By Whose Standards?

I had a view changing experience recently. I have a dear young man from China in one of my classes. His language skills are excellent, but it’s clear he carries the humbleness of his culture heavy on his shoulders. I gave my class an assignment where they were required to identify their individual strengths and weaknesses as listeners. All of the students did this, except for him. Instead, he wrote an eloquent piece about the importance of good listening without ever referring to himself.

At first I was poised to get out my red pen and begin slashing, but then it struck me: he did the best he could within his own experiential and cultural framework.  The Asian view is one of suppressing the ego, being respectful and behaving passively versus our western view where “I” is at the center of everything.  Instead of grading his paper as I did the others, I decided to grade it where he was – in his heart, mind and culture. Did I do the right thing?

The right thing – for years I have taught students from other cultures – many of them Asian. Yes, of course there were differences in writing and ideas – I mostly got hung up on the poor grammar – but until these last few days I never faced the question – by whose rules? Given his good writing skills, the issue became culture and whose should win – mine or his? Let me be so bold as to pose this response: neither.

Human beings embrace their cultures and often stay cocooned within them. A booming global economy insists that we emerge from the cocoons, interact and at least try to understand each other’s cultures. Thus is the mandate of this global economy. In reality we pretend.

Back to my student. Again I pose the question: by whose rules? Theoretically I should hold all students to the same standard, and in terms of writing quality, he was competent. It was this indirect answer of his that unleashed the Pandora of just how do determine and administer standards. If indeed standards remain rigid, then what kind of educational system is it that would penalize students who follow the norms of their ethnicity while enriching our country with the vibrancy of their culture.

 

 

About

An author, a teacher, a candlestick maker? I am lucky enough to have followed my muse through a most eclectic life of many careers, many interests, and many friends and liasions. Two beautiful children, now grown and one their own, several books -- the penultimate accomplishment dream come true, a hores trainer, a college professor, and a stint in corporate America to validate my feelings that I never, ever want to go there again. So I donned my ruby slippers and dared to take those different paths, those diverging paths, and that has made all the difference! (Thank you, Robert!)

Posted in Uncategorized

A Penny for Your Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Old Stuff

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,716 other followers

PetSaver Healthy Pet SuperStore

PetSaver Healthy Pet Superstore in Rochester New York is the best locally pet store. PetSaver carries the best natural pet food, healthy treats, raw food, pet toys and pet supplies. PetSaver features a Self Wash, with wash tubs at all locations, Webster, Brighton, Greece and Victor

lucia's blog

Strive to understand and not to judge.

Pauline Hawkins

Writer. Teacher. Dreamer.

Life After College

"Your career is your business, so manage it like a CEO." - Dorit Cher

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

A Little Bit Softer Now.

Reflections on Popular Culture, Writing, and Tai Chi

copyright1982

sarah cedeño

Culture Collage

Lori D. Nolasco

How to Live Write

Advice for freelance writers about making money online.

Read.Learn.Write

Words unlock worlds

Dana Griffin

Author of Airline Thriller Novels

harrisonjones

aviation author blog

Existence At It's Best

Another Blog From William Kelly

Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors

Advice on Writing, Publishing, and Book Promotion

The Art of Translation

...perchè tradurre è un arte

%d bloggers like this: