Tuesday, October 23. 2007
Motivation Posted by Spanky McAwesomepants at 16:01
...is something I'm often lacking in.
So, what do I need to get moving?
I've got two stacks of essays from this week's writing class sitting next to me, waiting to be typed, printed, and checked over.
And I haven't so much as started typing up even one in the past hour and a half.
On the one hand, there are personal issues on my mind, but I've worked through those kinds of things before. They contribute to my lack of movement, but I don't think that they are the cause.
The root, I think, is in the very question of whether or not work that is done is actually "productive." The "why" of what I am doing.
I had a crisis with this question the other night. A call to another foreign teacher helped shore me up and got me through the evening and the work that I had to do.
But two days later, and here I sit again with the same quandry.
Why must I slog through all this "English" writing, and read and critique these "violations" of the English language?
Because someone has to. At some point, someone has to pick up the slack. Someone has to do the work that must be done, or it will never be done.
And this is true even of the work that never can be "done."
Rabbi Tarfon is quoted as saying, "It is not up to you to complete the work, but neither are you free to neglect it."
While this was in reference to serving God by way of religious observances and pious action, I think it applies to any legitimately large task that is beyond the ability of any one person to accomplish.
Accordingly, it is certainly true of the work of teachers and professors. So long as we do our part, the work will be closer to being finished.
A little chat I just had with a writing student also has contributed to this feeling I'm coming to have more and more often.
I am starting to accept this role of "teacher," and, well, I want to actually play this role properly.
And if I expect others to do everything they can to improve their students, I have to do no less.
I am not doing it only for my job. I am not doing this only for myself, or only for money. I have to work the way I have committed myself to for these reasons, yes, but the most important reason for doing such work is the students themselves.
They are my responsibility. And I must do the work I set myself to do because I must do what I can to better my students.
The degree to which I can legitimately better my students is the true measure of my value or worth as a teacher or professor.
And if I ever want to bitch or complain about any other teachers or professors, I have to lead by example. I have to be the better way.
Or, I will never be able to lead others to, or point to the better way, because I will not be of the better way.
I will one of the others, the countless many who speak of the way things should be and do nothing.
And their words mean so little compared to those who do not speak of how things should be but simply act as they feel others should act.
These silent workers lead by example, and better themselves and everything around them with their work.
Those that encourage such behavior are good in being able to point out the way things should be. But were it not for such examples, no one would have anyone to point to. There would be no one to lead us or show us the way.
So while I may talk of this "better way," I must also show others that I follow the "better way," and that it is real and possible.
And by bettering my students, I better those that they touch, work with, and influence in the future.
Through them, in my small way, I better the system I am in, the society I live in, the culture that is around me.
But all this is only true if I do my work.
Back to the trenches.
Thursday, July 19. 2007
Below LaoWai Radar Posted by Spanky McAwesomepants at 03:15
What's the title of this blog mean?
It's a way of describing me. I've been called a "stealth laowai" by friends, and that plays on the "lao-wai radar" that so many of us foreigners encounter when we first come to China.
What is "lao-wai radar?" It's the ability of native Chinese to notice and pay attention to foreigners. Those in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, or other more cosmopolitan cities may not know what I'm talking about, but anyone who's been to the smaller cities, the places outside of the foreigner-haven cities knows exactly what I'm talking about.
It's what activates what we call "the celebrity effect." What informs the gawking, the stares, the whispers, the shouted--yet somehow still shy--"Hello!"'s by someone who never waits for or expects an answer.
And, yes, it's what brings the pointing fingers and shouts of "Lao-Wai!" by children, and some who are not children in age or form.
It's what anyone sick of the celebrity effect looks to avoid. Hats, hoodies, sunglasses, all are ways of interfering with it. But I can fly right under all the time.
Blessed by my Southern Chinese parentage, I can walk unnoticed through crowds of potential lao-wai gawkers and "HELLO!"-shouters. Their stares never follow me, and they never shout half-mocking greetings in my direction.
I am a "Stealth Lao-wai." And I happily operate "Below Lao-wai Radar."
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