It was a very casual scene after class had officially ended. There I was chatting with two students (future translators/interpreters) as we prepared to gather our belongings and head on home. We had just talked about the value of extensive reading (maybe I am slowly but surely being drawn into the cult). I recommended some podcasts I thought might be useful and interesting for them (mostly Freakonomics and This American Life) and mentioned some books I thought might be interesting and useful (including Native Speaker by Chang-Rae Lee, Drifting House by Krys Lee and Korea: The Impossible Country by Daniel Tudor).
One student was interested in my recommendations and seemed surprised I had so many things to suggest as I was a bit slow at first to get started. She also seemed surprised to note I’d been reading Please Look After Mom and that I’m a fan of Kim Young-Ha. Maybe she was doubly surprised by my interest in Kim Young-Ha’s work in the New York Times and how his writing is appearing so frequently there. When I mentioned my interest in the great blog Subject Object Verb perhaps my status as as a curator or sharer of resources was cemented. It is hard to say what they were thinking or feeling but it read to me like something of being impressed.
The next question was if I had ever shared books with students like them or given reading assignments or suchlike. I said I’d done so over the winter with their “seniors” (predecessors). They asked how it went and I said it was ok but maybe not a resounding success (I probably didn’t exactly say “resounding”). I mentioned how I just lent out books and didn’t require anything else. I expressed my perception that most of the students didn’t do much reading. Then the comment came out, “You are a teacher. You need to push students.”
In that moment the statement hit me quite hard. We had a potentially juicy case of perceptual mismatches. I mean, I thought I was doing pretty well to haul a bunch of carefully selected texts from my potentially impressive collection and let students borrow them for the winter. You know, the winter, when I am on vacation. But here was this very kind, appreciative, and keen student telling me perhaps I had not met my responsibilities as a teacher.
I did my best to respond appropriately, mumbling, “Yeah, I know what you mean. I do. I just thought since it was vacation people could choose to read as they want. It wasn’t an assignment or anything. You know, everyone is an adult and I didn’t want to overload people.” She nodded in agreement but came back to the role of the teacher being to push, apparently even during vacations. I saw this as a nice glimpse into her (and probably others’) thoughts on the role of teachers. It immediately got me thinking about things like cultural differences and how expectations play such a big role in perceptions.
Now, a few weeks later I appreciate conversation even more because it helped me see yet again how differences in concepts about roles and responsibilities can cause actions to come across differently to different people. Once again looking at #onething helped provide some insight into some bigger issues.
- This is the 2nd of ?? posts in response to Anne Hendler’s One Thing Blog Challenge .Here is my first.
- I think writing about one thing is a nice way to ease back into blogging (or get started) for those who feel like writing something but don’t know where to start.
- You’ll note there is no action plan above. That’s partially because I have no idea what I’d do differently or if I’d even do the whole “haul books into class and set up a mobile lending library” thing again.
- I thought this post on Extensive Reading from Kevin Stein was fab.
- I have been pretty crappy with blog comment responses lately. Sorry to those that have been personally effected. I will be better from now, starting with this post.
- In all the books Korean books mentioned above I am talking about English translations.