Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I have to say that my experience of taking exams is now a much more happy one than my experience of giving them. With a few exceptions my students did rather terribly on the mock IELTS exam that I gave them. I'm currently wearing my fingers to the bone marking and writing up their end of semester grade report, but for what? Like I say, most of these students plainly didn't come to class, work hard and participate if they did come to class, and generally make the most of the class. Oh well. I guess they'd all get A+ grades if Blizzard proctored exams on Azeroth's bestiaries, best skill synergies for various classes, or estimating the undead population per square mile of Lordaeron.

What's more, some students really did think they'd get away with cheating in my exam. MY exam! Well, unfortunately for them, it seems they cheated off of people who got wrong answers, so it generally did not help their scores much. It may have actually hurt their scores, since they spent less time actually considering the questions and answers written before them.

Now, considering all the China hype lately, particularly the people in the West who are running scared of a resurgence of Chinese might (a few hundred years overdue, really; but that's what bad economic and social policies will do), I find these students a bit underwhelming. In other words, if these are the cogs in China's growth machine, I don't see a threat. Many of these kids are the children of rich people (i.e. the children of the communist party, as well as of business people). Their parents have been paying lots of money to send them to the BCIT program, because of the alleged chance for these students to augment their 3-year technical degree with a 4th year at BCIT in Canada. As far as I can tell, only 2 out of 126 students actually make the cut.

That's sad.

The real sad thing, however, is that a decent (somewhat larger) proportion of these students are smart enough to have gotten to Canada (they need a 5.5 on the IELTS exam) if they'd studied a bit more.

Back to the cresting wave of the 'Chinese resurgence' and the relative lack of oomph here at this college, I think I should clarify an important point. Although these are rich kids with good guanxi (connections) that will assure them important jobs in government and business, these are hardly the cream of the Chinese crop. The cream of that particular harvest is generally sent abroad en masse, mostly to various universities in Europe, N. America, and Australia. Hence the misunderstanding that leads us Westerners to stereotype Asians as being ultra hardworking and ultra smart. No, China in particular and Asia in general is one vast Darwinian survival of the fittest machine. The underachievers and the less intellectual never make it past the Chinese (or Japanese, or Korean, or Indian, etc) borders. If they happen to have some money and influence, they usually end up being processed through diploma mills like the one I'm employed by. Thanks to increasing numbers of the wealthy in Asia, of course, there are quite a lot more students who fall into this quality. Thus, although there has been a great surge in college attendance in places like China and India, most of the students (and most of the colleges built or expanded to hold them) are unemployable by international standards. The expanded or recently created colleges also reflect the expectations and quality of the students they process, so these colleges are also somewhat slipshod affairs where it becomes rapidly apparent that no one cares to maintain quality or standards.

It does make more a generally laid back place to work, however, other than the marking period wherein I must finally process all these laconic drones so that the college may expell them like pent-up flatulence into the workforce.

I should note that my students are also, for the most part, nice 'kids' possessing sunny, playful dispositions. Those relative few who attended my classes regularly I had a fun time teaching and I will surely miss them, even if I don't hold out much hope for their future prospects.

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