I’ve been spending a lot of time with the band members of Pippin recently. I’ve had to keep them happy since some of them are not being paid but have had to come to a lot of rehearsals. And so, I’ve been hearing about their teaching woes as band teachers. It’s one thing to teach English but it’s entirely another to teach music here at Shantou University. They adopt a fairly common American teaching style of being pretty relaxed (joking, laughing, etc.) and then stiffening up when it comes time to “buckle down.” However, these teachers claim students here (well, I’m convinced anywhere) don’t respond to them when they get serious. They only respond to Chinese teachers that are super strict. The American teachers claim racism is at play because even the Chinese band teachers joke around but they get respect and attention when they get serious. Chinese teachers get respect when foreign teachers just get a smile.
I began wonder how I make do in the teaching arena. I try to keep rehearsal light but often shout to bring things back in focus. However, I do it with mixed results. Students are quiet when I talk but I am unsure if they are actually listening. The students respect me to a certain degree but is it because I am half Chinese (and could possibly understand what they are whispering about in Cantonese behind my back)? or is it because of my teaching style?
Either way, students definitely respond to people who are in positions of authority. If you have the title of director or chancellor, you immediately gain full respect and attention. Not so, in the United States. High positions have to prove themselves to students in America to gain respect. Once again, that is proof of the old communist way.