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January 14, 2008

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Reluctant Blogger

We have the same "problem" with some of our students (I teach at University level) who come here for a year or two from some parts of Africa or India to do a Masters course. They always attend every lecture/seminar and hand in coursework in advance of deadlines. But the cultural difference is huge - like your students, they never ask a question even in a small group and in their culture it is also seen as a complimentary thing to reproduce as your own, work by others that you admire - here of course it is plagiarism.

I always try to have a small scale debate every few weeks - on a subject in which they feel comfortable just to get them opening up and putting forth ideas. It works up to a point.

Debating is a bit of a dying art even in British schools (other than fee-paying schools). I always take care to ensure that my own children develop good debating (as opposed to arguing!) skills - just over dinner and things.

As you say, when you get your own classroom you will be able to draw these students out more and run your classroom on a more interactive basis. For now I guess you just have to watch and listen.

Good luck!

Mrs. G.

Interesting post. Maybe your classroom will be a safe and inspiring place to speak out and spread some wings. I have a good feeling about you. I have kids in my writing classes that act COMPLETELY different when their parents are aound. I look forward to hearing more about this.

Mary Alice

Bless you for wanting to teach in those schools. It is difficult but oh so rewarding. My sister teaches in one them.

Maybe, we shouldn't wish to change them so much as to learn from them ourselves. Is anyone really benefiting from the competitive atmosphere in our culture? Collectivist cultures are much more content than individualist cultures....maybe we could learn something from it? Just thinking.

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