Monday, November 15, 2010

Blog 10 Young Teachers, Old Teachers.

The focus of this chapter is the age diversity and development stages of school-aged children.  But what about the teachers’ age?  What impacts of teachers’ age have on their teaching and their students? What are the strengths and downfalls of young teachers and old teachers?  Are teachers the older the better?
Young teachers are fresh off school and full of new concepts and ideas of education; their passion and energy make natural ties between them and their students; they are apt to use modern technologies both in classrooms and the communications with students (e.g. internet, texting, youtube, facebook).  They could be teachers, friends, and role models for students.  However, younger teachers seem “immature” and need to grow up as well as the students. They may lack skills of classroom management, ability to handle emergencies, which were learned over the YEARS of teaching.  Since young teachers have not raised their own children, they might fail to understand issues from the stand point of parents.
Are teachers the older the better?  Veteran teachers are often referred as “experienced”, “highly efficient”, since they have been teaching the same subject over the years and have extracted the best teaching materials and approaches to teaching. They have rich life lessons, which enable them to understand what parents are expecting from and worrying about their children. Older teachers are familiar with education policies, routines, procedures, resources, personnel that are helpful for dealing with general and specific cases.  Nevertheless, old teachers may rely too much on their former experience when solving problems, other than try to learn new findings of education.  If they are not updated with the knowledge of all kinds of learning disability, they might easily label a child with learning disability as “trouble maker”, “do not follow directions” etc. 
So, I will conclude that a middle-age teacher (such as me), would combine all the strengths of being young and old and be the best teacher!  Just kidding!  Judging a teacher by his/her age, is “ageism”, and thus biased.  Best teachers can be from any age group, as long as the teacher is passionate about his/her job, listening to students and parents, professional in the content area, self-reflective about his/her teaching, and always ready to learn new things.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blog # 9 East vs. West, South vs. North.

World Map, English Version

World Map, Chinese Version
 Can you tell the “surface” and “hidden” difference between the two world maps above? Of course they are in different language: English and Chinese, but the in-depth implication of these maps is the different ways we view the world based on where we are.

The entire childhood, I was exposed to the second map, and used to wonder why Asia is called the “east” or “orient” when obviously in the map, we are in the central part of the world!  (The name “China” literally means “the central kingdom” in Chinese language. Ethnocentrism!)   In high school and college, along with the learning of English as the second language, I started to tap into more topics and discussions of “East & West”.  I learned that the west and east cultures differ in so many ways from greeting, conversation, eating habit, dressing style, facial expression, to the social norm, political opinion, religion, and the value system, that when east meets west, there is a “culture shock”.  For example, China has a collectivist culture which emphasizes the benefit of people as a group, when necessary, people choose to sacrifice the individual for the group goal.  However in the U.S., individual freedom and rights is the main focus of the culture, any harm to individual right is the violation of “human rights”.
“South” and “north” is another pair of interesting concepts. We assume people from the same country are identical, but within this country, there is always regional diversity, in which “south” and “north” are commonly involved.  In China, although the geographical divide between south and north is Qinling Mountain and Huaihe River, the definition of “southerners” and “northerners” could be relatively different, I, as a Beijinger, was referred as “northerner” by people from Shanghai, but “southerner” by people from northeast China.  The “northerners” and “southerners” have all sort of stereotypes and prejudice to each other, just like in the United States.  I used to have 2 Indian families as my neighbors, from them I learned there is “south” and “north” in India too.
Geography encompasses with ethnicity and race, language, religion and socioeconomic status.  “Where are you from” decides your accent, lifestyle, religion, as well as your understanding of other regions and cultures.  It is easy to cross the geographic borders of north, south, west and east, but hard to pass the borders across people’s minds.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blog # 8 Can an Atheist Like Me Love Christmas?

Born and raised in a typically atheistic Chinese family and community, my early understanding of religion rested on the impression that Muslim people did not consume pork as the rest of us did, and they were very serious about it.   The schools I went in China did not teach us religion either.  Instead, we were taught Darwin’s theory of evolution, which has formed the foundation of my knowledge of the world and perceptions of human history and society. In China, many people share a common opinion: religion, as a synonym of superstition, was therefore the antonym of science, and only those with vulnerable minds would believe in supernatural power.
While in China, people with religion are usually judged and discriminated by the majority of atheists, it could be a totally opposite situation in the U.S.
With ninety percent of the populations (2005) claims a preference to some religious group and 60% of Americans believe that religion can answer all or most of today’s problems, atheists are minorities in the U.S. and somewhat become an equivalent to immorality!  Some published articles criticized China for being lack of religion, thus lack of morality and social conscience, which caused all sort of today’s social problems.  Personally, I have confronted the sense of superiority from churchgoers and questions like “Do you know where you are going when you are dead?”
Is being religious or not the only criterion to define people as good or bad?  Of course NO! Can I still be a good person without any religious affiliation? Of course YES!  All through my life, I learned the same values and virtues as those religious: love, care, honesty, sympathy, hard-working, responsible, humble, supportive, etc.  The only difference is: I am self-administrated. I am capable for making decisions and responsible for my actions, as well as taking all the consequences.  I do not worship any God, but it won’t prevent me from being a decent person!
I respect all religions, as much as I wish to be respected as an atheist.  I celebrate Christmas, because in my eyes, it is the most exciting AMERICAN holiday!