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."