Lesson one: I am amazing.

I currently teach 9 classes averaging around 22 young pupils a class.  That means 189 young open minds are exposed to the world of Andee.  They not only sit before me but they are also subject to my perceptions, my aberrations, my temperament, my good days, my bad days, and my bizarre inner nature . . .  which is a rather horrifying thought.  However, they seem to maintain some sense of a buffer between my ideas and theirs  given that I tried to convince my class tonight that Beyonce was cooler than Justin Bieber.  I’m afraid my idol stands no chance to that teenage love boat JB. . . . so much for transforming minds.

Like any student, my youngins are torn between the fierce expectations of their parents (I don’t know of any American kids who would go to class for three hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights) and simply embracing a life of a normal kid.  From what I can tell, the students are either at school or at home playing computer games…alone.  Few participate in extracurricular activities like sports, art, or music.  In fact, when I asked my class the other day what their hobbies were, out of 18 students, all but four said “playing computer games.”  And one of the other four said she liked shopping for shoes.  What is the world coming to?

These kids don’t have access to any exterior outlets to express themselves athletically or creatively.  It seems as though they are turning into their beloved computers, becoming programmed responses devoid of any elements of personal charm or personality.

I know it looks like chaos . . . but trust me I have complete control . . .

This behavior reveals itself in the classroom as these kids seem classically conditioned to follow certain guidelines and formalities; they lack the confidence and willingness to express themselves in an educational or formal setting (Note: this statement COMPLETELY excludes my little ones who do not follow my list of AW approved classroom behaviors such as no screaming, no hitting, no karate moves, no strangling classmates, no pulling teacher’s clothes, and no cutting each others’ hair in class…I’m hoping the parents didn’t notice this last one).  For example, when taking attendance, I ask each student how they’re doing or how their day has been.  The response from every student across every age level is exactly the same: “I’m fine thank you how are you?”  Except the students don’t reply, rather they recite this phrase with the same monotone intonation.  Sometimes, they start reciting this before I actually ask them how they are.  Naturally, I found this rather annoying and droning so I directed one of my first lessons at changing this behavior.  I desperately explained that when I inquire how they are, I actually AM curious.  Imagine that.

Cuties!

I taught them some alternative responses to try and get the ball rolling given that they looked at me with blank stares when I first proposed the revolutionary idea.  My favorite one is “I’m awesome!” because not only do my students exclaim this rather enthusiastically (I give out high fives for good energy) but I also think it fosters positive self-esteem . . . don’t you think?  Regardless, in one of my more advanced classes, all of my students now respond with sincere honesty to the “how are you today” question, granting me an array of replies ranging from “I’m tired because I studied too hard” to “I’m very very  very very good!” to  .  . . “I’m awesome!”  Listening to the responses they come up with at the start of class has become one of my favorite highlights, as their eyes light up with some emotion and excitement in telling a room how they ACTUALLY are.

What if we all exclaimed “I AM fabulous” or “I AM amazing!” to the world when someone asked us how we are?  No need to be timid in stating the obvious my friends.

Live in love.

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About aweinfur

Learning and Organizational Change graduate student at Northwestern University. Yogi. Happy.
This entry was posted in children, Saigon, Southeast Asia, Teaching, Vietnam. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lesson one: I am amazing.

  1. martha.weinfurter@gmail.com says:

    OK, this one of my favorites!

  2. AJ Ghiossi says:

    LOVE it. Good thinking–might even have to steal this from you 🙂 But I thought Lesson One was “a huge city trapped in a little box?” Uh oh…am I going to be tested on this??

  3. polly breen says:

    Andee,
    I love your blog!! Your thoughts are terrific! Really interesting the way you describe the children. I have heard that the one advantage the U.S. has traditionally had over Asian countries is our society’s fostering of confident, self initiating, creative minds. Interesting to hear how the alternative scenario evolves in Vietnam.
    Good Job!! Love the lesson Plan:-))))
    Polly

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