notes from lunchbreak

September 19th, 2007

Update from after class: Holes in my memory patched and I think I misunderstood the slogan. Maybe I’ve got it right this time, but corrections are most welcome.

A random oddity spotted in the classroom yesterday afternoon: A sign on the wall beside the blackboard with the slogan:



Ummm…. yeah, can’t quite remember it. I wrote it in my notebook which I left in the office. I was going to write this up from the office, but China Unicom wasn’t quite being cooperative enough and it was getting too close to lunchtime to bother fighting a dodgy connection. I guess I’ll have to check it when I go back to the office this afternoon- and remember it this time. Anyway, under the main slogan was the usual Olympic rubbish: “迎奥è¿?,树新风”. I asked my students what they thought of this sign. Nothing. Of course. Anyway, here’s what I think:

1: My first reaction was unnecessarily sarcastic (as always): You mean my teaching is bone dry and full of sand like the spring wind? Alright, sorry, I’ll work on livening things up. Of course, the slogan is meant to be something about the depth of teachers’ kindness and grace, right?

2: Where is the connection between BeiGongDa’s teaching and the Olympics? Sure, the Olympic badminton (I think) competition will be held on BeiGongDa’s campus, but I can’t see the connection between that and the kindness and grace of teachers.

Anyway, there are many such odd signs in the BeiGongDa classrooms. Personally, I’d rather see them all replaced with the “No Cellphones” signs that they used to have here. I’m getting sick and tired of patiently explaining that playing with a cellphone is not appropriate behaviour in a classroom. Nor is sleeping, for that matter.

More randomness: Thanks to this teacher showing up from Oz (not the Oz you ride tornadoes to from Kansas), I have a much lighter classload for the next three teaching weeks (National Day falls smack in the middle of this light classload, so I get a month of relative leisure all up), meaning today I have only one class. So I decided I better use the extra time to catch up on paper work. A teaching plan is first on the list of things to do. Despite spending two hours in the office this morning, and having Chapter 1 and most of Chapter 2 already sketched out, I only got as far as finishing off an outline for Chapter 3. Perhaps plugging in the China Unicom wireless card was not such a good idea after all….. Anyway, one reason for not getting so much done was that the book seems to quickly run out of material and general “thickness” after Chapter 1. Chapter 3 was looking quite spartan, and I had to reach for Hogue to try and fill in some of the gaps, flesh out the material the book did provide, and get some more solid, detailed definitions of things they need to learn well.

Well, first up, I’m not entirely sure I’m remembering any of the names in this paragraph correctly, but anyway: Ann Hogue’s Academic Writing series (First Steps in Academic Writing, Introduction to Academic Writing, Writing Academic English) can be frustrating. They’re certainly not the best textbooks I’ve come across (although I can’t think of any writing textbook I actually liked). But they do do some things much better than the book I’m using for class. The clear, logical and detailed definitions and explanations of such things as paragraphs, topic sentences, thesis statements, introductions, conclusions and essays are much, much better than the muddy, illogical vague rubbish in the book I’m using.

It’s kinda frustrating trying to plan out the semester when it seems the people who wrote your textbook ran out of inspiration and motivation soon after they finished Chapter 1 and your only fall-back options are Hogue and whatever you can find online or dream up yourself.

And I took the laptop to the office because the office computer is so absolutely riddled with viruses as to be little better than useless. Might as well just take my own computer and save myself all the hassle and frustration. And I still used the wireless because in my experience school and university networks are chock full of viruses and spyware and untold numbers of other electronic nasties. I keep the home desktop as well protected as possible, only plug the laptop into the university network when I need a quick update of AVG, and generally try to avoid using any other computer.

Better get back to the office.

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