I have a pretty easy schedule this semester (much to my surprise as first semester is usually the busy one). I basically teach only one subject to 6 classes. (I have one minors oral english class but I could teach that in my sleep, have to do no prep or homework, and therefore I can ignore thinking about it.)
I’m teaching a class called Newspaper Reading which I have taught almost every year since I’ve gotten here. And guess what? I HATE teaching newspaper reading. First, I find reading and analyzing the news quite tedious. Just reading about the inefficient congress in America, the (alleged) chemical attacks in Syria, the Egypt fiasco and so on, is annoying enough much less talking about it for 12 hours a week. Second, I am teaching seniors. At many universities in China seniors have no classes. At mine they have just 2, Newspaper Reading and Comprehensive English. So seniors are encouraged to find a job, study for a test or sleep in late and skip all classes.
I’m teaching 6 classes of seniors, 2 of which are “mine.” The ones I have taught every year since they were freshman, the ones that I write about all the time on my blog, the ones who I am staying in Lin’an for. It’s our last semester together and I want it to go out with a bang, not a whimper.
So I’m changing my class. Instead of reading the news we are going to do a class called Becky’s Life Lesson’s. I feel like I’m a pretty successful adult. Plop me down in any part of the world and I can survive. I’m good with money, experienced traveler, avid researcher and easy-going. I don’t make a ton of money, but I make enough. I love my job but don’t make my job my life and have plenty of time to travel, see my friends and do things I’m passionate about like writing.
But my life was not always like this. I made a lot of mistakes along the way, and learned from them. I know I can’t help my students live a perfect/mistake-free life, but I thought maybe I could help them make less mistakes.So that’s the basic idea of the class. Each week I want to teach them a practical life skill, such as money management, how to travel cheaply, and how to take care of your health, to less tangible but equally important topics such as how to be a critical thinker, how to set goals and change habits and mindfulness.
You might say that some of my ideas are basic but that’s because Chinese culture is different than us. It puts such an emphasis on studying students are basically pampered. They’re not allowed to have a job or a boyfriend/girlfriend because they should focus on studying. Many have never cooked anything except a cup of instant noodles and before they come to college they have never even washed their clothes themselves. It’s not their fault, it’s that the system demands they spend all their time studying, and even a few minutes washing is considered a “waste of time.” So they have no experience with these seemingly easy things.
I’ve planned 11 out of 16 weeks, leaving 5 classes free on purpose. I know what I want to teach them, but I didn’t know what they wanted to learn. So during the first class I asked them two questions:
1. What are you most concerned about the future?
2. What would you like to learn?
Students have always been shockingly honest in their answers and this was no exception. While most were most concerned with finding a good job or a good spouse some bared their souls a bit more.
How do I find my dream? I don’t know what kind of person I want to be.
How to keep going when no one understands you.
I don’t even know what my dream is now. A person without a dream is terrible!
Afraid of marriage. Become one of the true adults in cruel world.
What I worry about is if I follow my dream I will totally let my father down. I can’t take on so much burden that I betray so many people and so many things.
Do we need to be that mature like one day we need to drinking wine with somebody just to be easier to get a better job or treat someone or give them money? I hate to do that. But people say it’s part of the social life.
Would like to learn: skills of not being afraid
To be honest I have a lot to worry about…
As for the biggest concern about the future it is that I don’t want to have marriage. I’m afraid that my parents can’t accept it. I’m also afraid that I will be lonely all my life.
I’m kind of awkward in adult world.
Looks like I have my work cut out for me trying to help with self-esteem and confidence. But not everyone was so serious. Some students listed some very practical matters:
Swimming!! (I don’t wanna be drowned)
I’d like to learn something about how to keep a enthusiasm for a job. Also I wanna know how to stay away from my PC and spend time on reading more books? (This would be the most important one right now.)
And then my all time favorite response: