Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Culture Shock

We were warned. Culture shock exists, and it follows a very specific curve. Without even realizing, I have fallen perfectly into this curve, and am experiencing every bit of emotion. First, "everything is new, interesting, and exciting," and it still is, but soon after, "...frustration sets in."This adventure will result in a lot of growing, and although what I take away will end up being positive, that does not mean I cannot feel some frustration.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, everything here is just different. Not bad different... just different. This can be a little bit frustrating at times. It may be especially hard for me because of the relationship I had with my cooperating teacher in my previous placement, but I am having so much trouble communicating with my cooperating teacher. I have assignments that need to be done, criteria that needs to be met, and a desire to teach that needs to be fulfilled. My teacher does not quite get this, and I am trying to get these points across with little success. I am teaching my first lesson tomorrow, but what originated as an 80 minute plan has been reduced to 50 minutes, and I have no idea what my unit plan will be on, and cannot begin preparing. I know I need to have patience, and I need to be understanding (sometimes this is easier said than done... my mother can attest that I am not so patient sometimes). I am a visitor in her classroom, and while I want to take over and do everything my way, that is just not how it is going to work. 

Unfortunately, today was the day that I was finally a witness to my teacher using the cane. Teachers in the junior high and even in the primary schools (kids as young as 5), use the cane as their behavior management plan/disciplinary tactic. Kids are caned for reasons such as talking out of turn, disturbing the class, not following dress codes, or even getting questions wrong. I do my best not to flinch or wince when the students are getting hit on their arms, backs, hands, or legs, because when the students are whacked, I can feel some of the pain - both physical and mental. I suppose the teachers believe that the combination of pain and shame will quite literally whip the kids into shape and make them work harder and behave better. I do not believe this. I believe positive reinforcement and respect can bring students a lot further along than corporal punishment. Again, this shows how I am frustrated and confused. 

I cannot and will not change that what seems like indifference of my cooperating teacher, or her attitudes on behavior and discipline. I believe the cultural barriers presented are going to be a challenge to overcome, but I will learn and I will find ways. 

One thing that successfully does cross cultures? Puberty. While giving an example of how to use a question mark, one of my students (male, obviously) asked, "Is that woman pregnant?" Everyone in the class, including myself, erupted in laughter. The question had absolutely zero relevance to anything, but the student just had to say the word pregnant in class. While puberty usually only brings strong, stale body odor, this example of puberty was rather refreshing.


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  2. Mikey, it's very sad to hear how the teaching practices are there and how you had to witness it today. But, it's encouraging to hear you are not letting it deter you from your purpose.

    "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Ghandi

  3. Hey mike, very sad to hear that those techniques r being used...when I was a kid I went to catholic school they used a ruler and it was painful and cruel..never thought I would ever hear of it again till I read this...keep a stiff upper lip and just goes to show u how TRULY DIFFERENT their culture is...u r an awesome young man and sounds like ur dealing well and trying to understand their ways..