I’ve wanted to write for months. Something, anything at all, I’ve wanted to put words to paper (or, in this case, words to a screen), but I’ve continually put it off. I have my excuses, which generally fall into a mixture of not knowing what to write about, not knowing how to express the emotions I’ve been going through, and a lot of laziness on my part. It’s hard to force myself to write something when I’m barely motivated to go about my day, which only seems to have increased since starting my new job.

That lack of motivation comes from questioning what I’m doing: I’m currently working in a buxiban (cram school) in Taiwan. So far, I have absolutely fallen in love with where I live in Taiwan; it’s beautiful, even if it’s extremely hot for autumn. But my job has been a source of constant anxiety.

Part of it comes from the fact that I’ve already trained to be a teacher, specifically secondary education; I know the various pedagogies, and I’m weird enough to enjoy reading the current research about education. I’ve also trained to work with ESL (English as a Second Language) students, which has shown me countless times that much of what my job says to do goes against that in every way, especially when you consider that my employer mandates we have an English-only classroom despite the fact that the use of their native language enables them to discuss the relevant concepts and understand the material better. I’ve also taught a second language, and I know that it has to be made meaningful in order for students to engage with it; this also goes against what my job pushes me to do, which is drill everything until my students and I are blue in the face.

When all is said and done, I feel like I’m accomplishing very little and am far from fulfilled. Outside of interacting with my students, I often feel as if I’ve made a massive mistake. I’m far from happy with what’s happening and what I’m seeing; I don’t seen much of a positive experience for my students, many of whom are in classes that are either far too easy or too difficult for their ability levels. There is rarely a middle-ground, meaning that someone is going to be left bored; the material is inappropriate and hard to manipulate, but I have to go by what I’m given because someone – my co-teacher, the students’ parents, or even the students – will inevitably question my decision to skip something. The curriculum often lacks anything that they would find reasonably helpful. More than a full month is spent repeating the same ten words at children between the ages of two and four years old? How is that developing “natural language use?” Did anyone of us learn English through nothing more than flashcards and drilling the same sentences over and over again? We used books, we used toys, we used play; none of this is present in our curriculum.

And when it is, someone goes and does something like this:

I am more than certain this is a sign that immature uni students are responsible for my curricula. That is not a flower.

I am more than certain this is a sign that immature uni students are responsible for my curricula. That is not a flower.

Or this:

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ESL books are certainly helping with the global anti-black rhetoric, aren’t they?

Along with this:

I feel like the terms “blood diamonds” and “conflict diamonds” escaped someone’s memory, which also found ways to affect South Africa.

I feel like the terms “blood diamonds” and “conflict diamonds” escaped someone’s memory, which also found ways to affect South Africa.

And even something as mild, but still infuriating, as this: 

The usage of words like this, even as an "acronym," contributes to the use of language that doesn't need to be in the classroom.

The usage of words like this, even as an “acronym,” contributes to the use of language that doesn’t need to be in the classroom.

This worries me. The people writing our curriculum clearly have little experience outside of what they’ve been told to do, which repeats for every level. Things that work for kids between the ages of 5-8 years old do not necessarily work for those who are 14-16 years old, but we continue doing this. The things that are done in these books are clearly written or illustrated by immature university students who are here for no other reason than to line their pockets, refusing to understand the direct and indirect harm their contributing to.

And those are the examples I’ve found after two weeks. I’m scared what I’ll come across in the next few months.

I’m hoping that things get better. I really am, especially because these kids are far too awesome for things to not be better for them. Maybe I’ll grow to tolerate it, but I probably won’t ever like it.

I’m alive, I promise. I just finished packing and getting my bags settled so that I can do some crazy excess-luggage checking and move myself back to the US for the next seven weeks. At the same time, VEDA started and has had me extra busy keeping up with the video-posting aspect. I’m glad, though; I wanted to do more video blogging. Everything is a bit over the top right now, so I’m trying to keep myself afloat; I’m trying to not stress out a lot, particularly as a lot of my plans went awry. That’ll get explained at [...] Continue Reading…

So other than existing on Twitter and Tumblr, I’ve been pretty much hiding due to finishing my final semester of university. And planning to move twice. And just running around seeing people I adore. I’ve been pretty busy!

Rather than make a list of everything I’ve been doing, I figured I’d babble about them in a poor quality video because my real camera hates functioning. Apologies!

I babble a lot, particularly in this. The short of it is that I’m graduating twice, I got to see my best friend (mentioned x2) Kirsti before I leave, I eat a Golden Gaytime because [...] Continue Reading…

It’s a pretty safe bet that, if people actually followed my Twitter, everyone would have assumed I had a bit of a breakdown. And I probably did because I feel really strongly about education and the absolute lack of care it receives. I feel about education much in the same way people care about things like whether or not JJ Abrams ruined two Star Trek movies (which he did), if Moffat really did turn Doctor Who into a horrible series (which he has), or justifying why foods like sauerkraut are particularly disgusting and should be avoided at all costs [...] Continue Reading…

“What separates you and me from the great unwashed,” he started, “is that we both have the potential and the desire to be better people.”

But that was a phrase that, as he would later come to understand, annoyed and hurt me. It was an awkward place to find uncomfortable classist remarks. In a letter that detailed his feelings for me and why he felt I was so special, he tried to raise us above everyone else as if we were somehow more willing to change than everyone else.

But it was a phrase that I grew up hearing because of [...] Continue Reading…

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