Upon returning to Taiwan after the Saudi Adventures, I accepted a teaching job at my old International School in Taichung at their new million dollar facility out in Dakeng. It was a month long sub position, replacing the person who had replaced me. I was excited to see what my life would have been like if I hadn't gone to Saudi. Of course, it was a complete mistake.
The new facility is about twenty minutes outside the city and split in two halves: The International English Program and a Hotel Management Apprentice Program preparing high school kids for jobs in the service and gaming industry. (China is banking on casinos for its future) The students are totally pathetic. They arrive twenty minutes after the bell dragging their feet to class. No book. No pencil. Nothing to write on but maybe some borrowed post-it notes. Their attitudes are abysmal. They curse you and freely, openly defy you. It was shocking. Once again Asia showed its true colors: They build a million dollar facility and everyone cheers, but then spend pennies on filling it with what matters most: Heart. Discipline. Student Centered Learning. Fun.
Basically, the school culture there made it an impossible place to work. The English teachers were so far down at the bottom of the totem pole it was laughable. The students dumped garbage in the English classrooms. They refused to take work serious. The Chinese teachers tried to control every aspect of the curriculum. It made me so discouraged that everything I'd fought for over the last three years had gone up in smoke. Watching these lethargic students groan and complain when asked to go back to their lockers and get their books... or trying to get high school students, who have studied English for ten year... to even show enough interest to answer a sentence... or do anything other than shrug their shoulders... it was like pulling teeth.
The school and country culture is to blame, really... during the initial interview, when I was asked back, the new administrators implored me that things had really changed, that this school was going to be a model for the future... but once I got in the classroom I was appalled. Between classes, the loudspeakers played AC/DC Highway to Hell and the Jake Giles Band My Angel is a Centerfold... which, believe me, are rocking songs but... that's how you motivate kids?
My old nemesis was there... Princess. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows of my battles with this old bag. I had her students my first three straight days and she kept them late every day. Like ten minutes after the bell late... so I barged into her classroom and just started telling students to put down their math homework... that my class had started and they were to immediately leave her class and walk across the hall to start my class. Later when I confronted Princess about it, she just walked away.
The final straw was this... on my last day... I subbed an old class of really sharp kids (we did Julius Caesar last year) and during the last twenty minutes of class I took them outside to play basketball. It was a going away gift to them. We hadn't been outside five minutes when an administrator came running up and saying..."NO! NO! It is forbidden."
Apparently, one of the Chinese teachers saw us heading outside, called the school principal, he called the English department, and that woman came out to order me back in the class. I just stood there shaking my head, "Nope! Sorry. Unless you can explain to me why you are ordering me back into the classroom, we're staying."
She had no answer.
The very next day... two different Chinese teachers marched their kids right past my classroom taking their kids out to play basketball.
In the end, I'm happy I went back to my old school. It was a good month. But I'm happier than anything... that I'll never go back there again.