Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Educational Differences: Maturity

(PICTURE: The planet that always gets a chuckle in American classrooms -- Uranus.)

Don't let the post's title fool you -- teenagers in America and Vietnam are both totally immature. However, their immaturity is expressed in different ways. I'm not gonna even pretend to understand the cultural differences in immaturity but I will tell a funny anecdote from the other night:

Right now I'm teaching a teenage class at Language Link. The students range in age from 11-15, which is to say there are A LOT of immature kids in the class. Every class I get lots of snickers and some misbehaving which would be the same in a similar class in America. Well, the other night I was teaching a science section about the planets in the solar system and I had all of the students repeat the planets after me: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

The students repeated the planets without a chuckle. Not one chuckle was emitted from a classroom of pre-teens and teens who had just said the word "Uranus". Can you imagine that happening in an American classroom when a teacher says out loud, "Uranus"? While listening to the silence following the students and me saying "Uranus" I thought to myself, "This is so unAmerican." There was only one thing for me to do and that was to say, "Okay, lets try that U planet again -- Uranus." The students followed with a perfect repetition of "Uranus." I smiled to myself and said, "One more time everyone - Uranus." Yeah, I guess I'm a little immature sometimes too.

A minute later I told the students to turn over a sheet I had given out: "Okay, everyone flip over the sheet." Sure enough, one or two of the boys chuckled, "He said shit."


Hannah said...

Does the International Astronomical Union know you're still teaching kids that pluto is a planet?

Benjamin said...

Actually, Sis, I told the students that Pluto is no longer a planet and they all knew that already. I'm pretty sure though that American students are still taught that it is a planet because it is the only planet discovered by an American*.

* I think I read that somewhere but clearly could be making that up.