Wednesday, July 15, 2009

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A morning at Jodi’s ECNU continuing-education Preschool Psychology class

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The classroom
A long, air-conditioned, flat classroom, 15 rows of desks split by a central aisle, four students on each side. A projector screen behind the professor, a microphone system, big south-facing windows with closed curtains to block out the sun. Double-door at the very front and very back of the classroom. The prof sits at a desk on a slightly raised platform at the front of the class. The class is about 70% full.

The teacher
Middle-aged woman, speaking Mandarin with a Shanghainese accent and breaking into Shanghainese for examples of a sentence or so, about half the time repeating the words in Mandarin (I think). Likes to repeat phrases: “不一样的,对不对,不一样的,啊”. Teaching style is pure lecture, guiding students through the book/reading, supplementing it with examples. Points out definitions and explanations that will be test questions and gives students time to write down or underline. Occasionally asks questions of the whole class, students answer quietly to nobody in particular or among themselves.

The students
About 100 students, 2 male and the rest female. Median and average age pretty similar, probably about 24-25. Most students have brought some sort of drink in a bottle or tuperware, mostly tea or water. Back 5 rows are visibly more restless and chatty than the front rows. The teacher will occasionally in the same lecture-monotone remind students to pay attention, but generally leaves us (we’re 4th from the back) alone. Chatting is loudest in the early morning, gets quieter in the period before lunch. Most students are following along in their textbooks, underlining or taking notes in separate notebooks. Students are also (without the teacher caring, sometimes even commenting on): texting, sleeping with their heads down on the desk, working on sewing/crafts, chatting, absent-mindedly flipping through the textbook, snacking, staring through the window out across Changning district (oops, that was me).

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