Cinderella, Cracking Down, Ikea, and LOTS of TV!
We’ve been plugging away at our daily routine here in Tianjin. Classes are going well. This semester, for my undergraduate writing classes, I decided to try focusing the class around a theme. I’m going with fairy tales, emphasizing Cinderella.
So far, we’ve read the Perrault and Grimm Brothers versions of Cinderella and just finished watching Disney’s version last week. It seems to be going well so far, and it’s way more fun to teach than just grammar and essay-writing.
I was afraid the boys would be all like “I’m too cool and manly for fairy tales!” but last week, they were laughing louder than the girls at all of the funny parts of Disney’s Cinderella. (They all thought the mice were hilarious.) After watching Cinderella 4 times over the past week, I have constantly had “Cinderelly, Cinderelly, night and day it’s Cinderelly” or “So this is love…” stuck in my head.
After Disney’s Cinderella turned out to be such a hit with the students, I’m pretty optimistic that the other movies will go over well too. Next week we’re starting Enchanted. Then we’ll talk about some themes that are common in Disney fairy tales and how they’ve shaped Western culture.
After that, we’ll watch Ever After (a remake of Cinderella with a lot less magic, starring Drew Barrymore), learn about some more fairy tales (Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty), and finish up with Into the Woods (a musical that brings together all of the aforementioned fairy tales, and then shows what happens “after happily ever after”).
After we finish all the fairy tales, the students will have to do a creative group project based on a Chinese fairy tale.
My humongous oral graduate classes are going pretty well too. I came down with the stomach flu 2 weeks ago and had to miss all of my Thursday and Friday classes. It was a pretty nasty bug…I basically didn’t get out of bed from Thursday to Sunday.
While I was out, Matt went to my two graduate classes and set up a video camera so they could keep giving their speeches (which is what was scheduled for that week, and I didn’t want to delay it). The 2:00 class was great, but the 4:00 class had some problems with chattering throughout the speeches. I announced on the first day that one of my classroom rules is to be quiet when other students are talking or presenting. My 4:00 class has consistently had problems with being quiet when they’re supposed to be quiet and with following directions in general. When I was in class two weeks ago, and they had started giving speeches, I had to tell them several times to be quiet. Apparently, since I was gone last week, they really got out of hand. Matt thought it was so bad that he decided to stay for the whole class and supervise in order to get them to keep quiet.
I punished them by docking the whole class 10% on their grades for the speech. When I announced the penalty last week after I returned to class, they were all deathly silent for the rest of the speeches. It certainly made the class a lot easier to control! Because let’s face it, with 60 students, it’s a battle to keep things from heading toward mutiny. I was worried that coming down hard on them would make them resentful, but I think it had the appropriate affect of getting them to be respectful and obedient without making them hate me. Now that they know I’m not going to tolerate disrespect, I think the class will be a LOT easier to handle. After I announced the penalty, I felt like it was so much easier to get through the rest of class, and I was even able to dismiss them early instead of just barely getting through everything.
Apart from teaching, we discovered the newly opened Tianjin Ikea. It was pretty much exactly like Ikea in the US, so if we wanted to, we could actually decorate our apartment exactly like our apartment back in the US. Matt said that made him feel sadly commercial, so we ended up not doing it. But we did get some much-needed cheap lamps to brighten up our bedroom.
LOTS of TV
One of the projects I’ve given my graduate students is to watch an English TV series this semester in small groups outside of class and then report to me about their weekly discussions of the TV show.
Since my classes ended up being huge, there were quite a large variety of TV shows that groups chose. I had already seen several of their choices (Awake, Once Upon a Time, Modern Family, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, Lost, Prison Break, Glee, and Lizzie McGuire…yes, being familiar with kids TV sometimes does pay off in my current job of teaching college students!) but there were many more I wasn’t familiar with at all. I tried to watch the pilot episode of all of the ones I was unfamiliar with so I could follow their summaries more easily. As a result, over the past few weeks, I’ve watched (for the first time) at least one episode from the following shows:
Revenge, Two and a Half Men, Sh*t My Dad Says, The Good Wife, The Apprentice, Castle, Desperate Housewives, Good Luck Charlie, The Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, and Nikita
I couldn’t find/had zero interest in Cougar Town and Sex in the City, so I just read the summaries of those on Wikipedia. (I’m planning to have a day to talk about American culture and emphasize that most Americans aren’t really like the main characters in those shows…right?)
So my take on all these new shows…The Good Wife, Castle, Grey’s Anatomy, and Nikita were interesting enough for me to actually want to watch the whole show. Grey’s Anatomy is ridiculously addicting…I’m on Season 2 already. The Good Wife just feels so Chicago politics, so that’s a kind of nice(?) memory of home. Castle’s characters are great (love his daughter!) and Nikita is kind of predictable/unbelievable, but the action and storyline are just interesting enough to keep me watching.
The rest are not interesting enough for me to care about watching more than one episode, so I’ll just let my students tell me how those shows go.
For someone who used to hate watching TV, it’s pretty ironic that now, I sort of have to watch TV. At least it breaks up the monotony of grading essays!