Friday, October 31, 2014

A Difficult Day

Today was a difficult day for me, but it didn't start out that way. In the morning, I got up at 3:00 am to have a Skype chat with someone from Mexico. After that I went back to bed until 7:30. Then around 10:00 am, I drove to school for my one o'clock class. Unfortunately, there weren't any parking spaces, so I had to wait for a while. The, just before class began, someone told me that I would have to move to another class. I said, no problem because I figured that they'd all be just about the same. 

As it turned out there was a problem. It was a computer classroom, and I was teaching English pronunciation. First, we couldn't get into the classroom because it was locked, and then when we finally did get in, I realized that with 60+ people it was going to be really crowded, yet still doable with the help of a little technology. Unfortunately, all of the computers were locked, so I couldn't even use the CD that I had planned on. 

So I taught for the first hour just using my voice; however, because I couldn't see many of the students behind the computers, I couldn't see how many were speaking correctly or speaking at all. Also, I began to notice that many were playing with their cell phones, and I couldn't easily get to them because the class was so crowded. Then suddenly, as the attendance list was being passed around, I noticed one student checking off previous days as though he had been there when he had not. When I took the list and looked at it, I noticed that some other students had done the same. What the heck, I thought to myself.

Suddenly, emotional energy began rising up inside of me. I wanted to yell and scream, but instead I stopped myself and took a few moments to breathe. Finally, when I was certain that my emotions were in check and I was the one directing me, I began to speak: “You guys, this is not the way we do things. To say that you were in class when you were not is dishonest, like lying and cheating.” I wanted to tell them that the attendance list is not there to harm those who don't come to class but to give credit to those who do. Instead, I said I would pass the list around again, and that they should white-out the check-marks that were incorrect.

As I was driving home, I wondered why I had allowed my emotions to arise in reaction instead of me simply stepping back, considering the best way to respond and then doing so. Now in writing this out I see that, in having to change classrooms at the last minute, I had indeed adapted to to less than optimal conditions. However, what I didn't do effectively enough was to lead all of the students in the same way. In other words, while most participated in the lesson, many seemed to give in to entertainment, text-messaging and/or playing on their phones. Herein, I realize that I have not within all my classes come to an agreement on the point of using phones during class. How can one be here participating in class while he or she is text-messaging and/or playing on the phone? 

So form this experience. I forgive myself for allowing myself to react, and I commit myself to (when/as/if I find myself in a similar situation) take as many moments of breathing as I require to consider and apply a solution that includes an explanation as to why it is neither necessary nor beneficial for all the students if a few cheat on the attendance sheet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Kind of like a Plan

Although I do not see a detailed plan for moving through this world and changing it/me/all for the better, I do have within what I speak and do a broad plan in the works to work with what is here (wherever I am), participating in bringing about a new found land based on the principle/s of equality within what is best for all.

Basically this means that to change the world for the better right now requires that those participating in the process of changing do so from wherever we are rather than waiting to get to the next point of readiness. For me, this translates into the practical realization that, rather than moving to another country and/or attempting to enter into a new field of expertise, I will be more effective by simply leveraging my current career as an educator so to from within the education system assist students and teachers alike to realize that we as the creators of the relationship lines that interconnect and flow from each of us as cause are equally as one responsible for all effect, hence the mathematics of changing self for the betterment of all so to change all for the better.

After about one year of re-positioning myself, I am now at Asia University in Taichung, Taiwan, and although I didn't arrive here with many expectations, I have been pleasantly surprised. Rather than trying to hold on to the old ways of academia, this university embraces change to the point that it even requires instructors (regardless of the grumbling) to embrace it too. Why? I would say that it is because, universities that are unable to differentiate themselves via the graduates they produce will in the near future no longer be in a position to compete against universities that do differentiate themselves. For example: in academic terms, one might say that the economic and financial systems of the world have entered into a state of contraction and consolidation. Unfortunately, this way of speaking of parts of the world system without considering the whole as one is one of the reasons that so many people, students and graduates alike have little to no idea how the world system actually functions, let alone how to comfortably maneuver through it. Herein the point of differentiation – that which will separate the dying academic institutions from the surviving and thriving ones – is the ability and will to look outside of the box for new solutions to old problems to thus teach/prepare young people to face present and future challenges.

As a student and educator of students, my goal is to assist myself and others to look beyond the box of common thought; thereby, expanding one's abilities to consider and create solutions that have yet to be taught.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My first Asia University blog

The picture above is the building that I spend much of my time in on the AU campus. This blog that I am now writing is part of my commitment to my students to write and post along with them. Perhaps our motto could be, a class that writes together stays together.
Sometimes when I sit down to write, there is so much that I want to say, that I have to say, that I don't know where to begin or how to begin. To be truthful, I don't enjoy structuring blogs before writing them and I usually don't; I like to simply write whatever comes up. Right now what is coming up is the question of what to write about; what should I write that I haven't already written about? I guess that since this blog is to be my first AU blog, I will begin with how I have been experiencing myself here at AU over the last three months or so.

The campus is cool, the students are cool, and the Faculty/staff are also cool. It's not a huge campus, so I don't have to drive or ride a bicycle to get to class. Even when I bring the wrong books to class, I still have time during breaks to go back to the office and get the right ones. The students I find to be very respectful and considerate to me and their classmates. These are the little points I appreciate because I see them as pillars of what I stand for, equality within the consideration of what is best for all.

Change has been a constant for me over the last several years, and as it turns out, it is also (through the words of the founder) enshrined on the walls the university, “The only thing that does not change at Asia University is change itself, change for the better...”

And there it is, my first AU blog, 250 + words.