Asia

Motivation for a varied life in teaching

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(1385 Words)

What motivates a teacher to start in the profession? For sure many reasons make someone begin a career in teaching. Is it pay or job security or is it a fall back option? This being said, initial motivation does not mean that years later the same can be said. The fact of the matter is the evolution of the new teacher into a mature tutor. This is then the professional person who has recognized the true meaning of teaching. This person recognizes their role in helping to shape young minds and impart moral values through education. Teaching has to be a vocation. In part an autobiographical story highlighting aspects of Asian teaching and also analysis, there are many aspects that any teacher has to realize to fulfill true potential.

Certainly, ongoing professional development highlights certain challenges in teaching that a teacher has to face up to. A focal point has to be the realization that students do not really know how to learn. How can any teacher, great as they may think they are, not realize that the students are naive about how to get the most benefit from a lesson? Any teacher has to look at the students’ own learning traits in light of today’s imperative that they both foster lifelong learners in their classrooms as well as become lifelong learners themselves. It’s the teacher’s inspiration that plays a huge part in a student’s education although every student and the class as a whole have to progress to help the teacher get the most out of them.

Different countries have varying approaches to learning and teaching. How does a foreign teacher survive in another country’s learning environment? Any foreign teacher working abroad has to adapt and work within the culture. It can be hard to change teaching methods to what has been ingrained from school through to university. Motivation to rise above some of another country’s inequalities as you see them is paramount. In some of these cultures, students tend to be passive and may be reluctant to participate in communicative exercises. A change in the style of teaching to suit these learners’ needs is essential because completely following an Asian model would be alien to any foreign teacher; a balance has to be met. A new foreign teacher would think it is strange to see no encouragement given to the students to think independently while just following the examples of the teacher, who is held in high esteem. Progression as a teacher means drawing attention to many facets of teaching. Inspiration has to come from somewhere. Breaking the barriers that slow students’ learning and build foundations that provoke students’ development has got to be a motivator.

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Bangkok Pollution

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(615 Words)

Bangkok is polluted, the smoke filled air from the early morning commuters with their cars, coming from their brand new condos, making their way to work serve to highlight the dramatic contamination levels this city has reached. Recent news from the Pollution Control Department that Bangkok’s air has reached critical levels can only confound worry. Bangkok people have learnt to put up with the pollution and ignore the three main worries associated with it; new high rise buildings, abundance of cars and filthy air. These factors will be classified in this essay.

The first factor is the brand new condos and apartments line every street in Bangkok these days. These new building have sprouted out of the ground to collect more people into a smaller areas of Bangkok. The sad fact is, there are little or no zoning laws. These seductively built premises neatly situated within eyeshot of major thoroughfares maybe appealing for the commuter belt brigade of workers but on already congested toll ways, roads and little sois, there really is no room for 50 or more families in their sparkling new condos. There are definitely signs of an oversupply of condos in Bangkok. The Government has noticed this too and has dropped the bank lending of 100% to only 90% of apartments less than 10 million baht which had made it too enticing for speculators but this will not stop the builders as they change tack and move into other avenues to entice more people into Bangkok.

Another factor is that there is no day off for traffic. Cars and buses clog the city twenty four seven. Benzene levels over Bangkok are well over the general limit. Medical studies have proved that long exposure to benzene exposure brings on cancer but this information must be kept quiet. Euro 4, one of the benzene petrol distributors have said they will try to reduce the levels of benzene emissions from 3.5% to 1%. This in itself is a great idea but what about the past and Bangkok’s contact with the smog that envelopes the city everyday. To compound the problem, these Bangkok people keep buying new cars. The roads are littered with red number plates, even with all the expense car ownership incurs; as long traffic jams every morning still grow larger. Bangkokians still continue to see their motors as prestige items.

One last aspect of pollution is the air which may seem clean to Bangkokians, some of them actually think their level of pollution is normal, but the air is not clean, dust particles lay in the atmosphere. These dust particles which can only be measured in microns of measurement that float around exceed the normal rate of air quality. Ozone levels were also found to be 0.2 percent higher than normal and volatile organic compounds were double the normal rate.  Most of the 6.7 million residents are taking this air in. Plants and vegetation should help this but with not that many green areas the plants can’t give off air to cleanse and cool the area while the temperature keep rising. This heat is added to by the concrete building which retain their heat so Bangkok is still hot at night.

To conclude, there are many examples of the ways Bangkok is becoming more polluted. The truth is the Government should wake up to the dangers of air pollution but with the sheer vast amount of traffic on the streets of Bangkok it is going to a hard task. They have started the underground and BTS which unluckily invites construction but expansion of this transportation seems a distant dream and the sad aspect, Bangkok people must have given up on that vision too.

Shame and Guilt Culture

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(1266 Words)

For this essay, the aspect of culture that will be talked about is the notion of shame and guilt. In many countries, each culture and the people within it adopt a way of dealing with wrong behavior. The emphasis here is on how an individual person reacts to an action done by them which is seen as not being right in their society. The essay will show with examples how shame and guilt work in daily life. It will focus on types of behavior, attitudes, and beliefs that are installed in culture. It is actually written specifically for individuals to think about their behavior and to think if their wrong actions belong to a guilt culture or shame culture. It is also written for each person to think more about their behavior when they commit something wrong and how they should behave.

Shame and guilt sometimes are considered to be similar feelings while within different cultures and countries they become separate entities when you can look closer at people’s behavior. For example, if a person was driving along the road and they saw a red light, they should stop, but in this case they continued through that light even though they had time to stop. How would they feel? In a shame culture, the person would (not in every case) look around to see if anyone saw them. If no-one saw them and nothing happened, they would be unperturbed and drive away thus not really having a feeling of doing anything wrong. In a guilt culture, if the same action happened, the driver would still look around, but they would feel remorse that they did something wrong thus producing a feeling of guilt. The feeling of guilt then becomes an inner feeling. It is as if they know they did wrong, and they are punishing themselves for it because they know what is right. The feeling of shame in this case, there is none, because in this situation no external force (such as police) saw the driver go through the traffic lights. There is no feeling for that person because the police did not catch them, speak to them and give them a ticket/fine.

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Reflective Essay – A Critical Incident

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A “prudent understanding of variable situations with a view to what is to be done” (McCarthy, 1984, p.2) encapsulates that moment when a teacher is met with new experiences that need resolving. Teachers are met with acts that define their personalities. While working in Asia, I was faced with one such dilemma as two students had complained to my manager that I was rude to them. All I was mentioning after class (in a respectful way and in the least words possible) on the first day of a new term that they had entered the class late, ignored me, and  sat down to subsequently talk with their friends. Asian culture may ignore this nonchalant kind of attitude, although I felt the need to deal with it.  What is called a ‘technical rationality’ (Schon, 1983), namely my reaction, I hoped, was a means to an end by telling them in not so many words that I would like them to respect the learning students, process and the teacher teaching. In this given situation, and given they were both adults, who was right as we both had views? For this essay, I would like to like to draw on Gibbs’ (1988) six step process of reflection to examine this classroom experience.

Firstly is the ‘description’ (Gibbs, 1988) of what happened? This can be said to be the ‘critical incident’ (Flanagon, 1954) which emphasizes a direct observation of human behavior to examine the point of myself, the teacher, keeping two students behind after class to talk about their behavior towards the learning process. This is also the ‘concrete example’ (Peters, 1984) which shows that we have to step back and test ourselves. Then, the next test is my ‘feelings’ (Gibbs, 1988) towards the students’ attitude of nonchalantly arriving late and traipsing past me. I felt a bit of frustration as the class had been disturbed, myself disrespected as a teacher while not forgetting being unsupported by my manager who told me to apologize to them.

Moreover, to ‘evaluate’ (Gibbs, 1988), the third stage of Gibbs’ model, which highlights the good and bad, is first to say that I chose a quiet moment to explain myself; this being after class. The bad would be the students’ reaction to a situation they felt was not to be worried so much about which in Asian culture made them lose face.  So, to make sense of the situation and thus ‘analyze’ (Gibbs, 1988) it, I was left feeling that I was in the wrong. My manager was now telling me to apologize and forget about it, although he was driven by the Asian culture and business ethics of the customer is always right and do not say anything bad.

Furthermore, the “conclusion” (Gibbs, 1988) is to highlight and reflect on what more I could have done, seeing as I had to apologize (or risk losing my job). Culture was an issue, but also I think attitudes to lateness of another teacher to which they had had the previous term was an issue. The sixth stage, my ‘action plan’ (Gibbs, 1988) is now to see if the situation arose again what I would do. Of course, there are reasons for being late, and also for reactions to negative things said about someone. Culturally, maybe I was too abrupt and too serious. Finally, laughter and a smile work in the Asian culture while also getting the students’ personal feelings as to the right behavior instead of pushing my personally held beliefs is also a factor; hopefully, we all become wiser.

(Words 591)

References

Peter Scales, 2008. Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector. 1 Edition. Open University Press.

Geoff Petty, 2009. Teaching Today: A Practical Guide. 4 Edition. Nelson Thornes.

Yvonne Hillier, 2005. Reflective Teaching in Further and Adult Education. 2 Edition. Continuum.

Andrew Armitage, 2011. Developing Professional Practice, 14-19. Edition. Longman/Pearson.

Thailand flood 2011

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(448 words)

Thailand is prone to rainy seasons and granted too, there is an expectation Thailand will flood during these rainy seasons. Thailand has also experienced catastrophic floods before, the most recent being in 1995. However, what is not granted is when a newly industrialized country with the second-largest economy in Asia fails to manage a situation it has had so much experience in handling and lets a situation get so far out of control.

This year’s monsoon season was like no other. However, then, why, like in recent years, was the water build-up created from the unusually heavy monsoons not released. Why were there questions about drainage systems left neglected and un-dredged for years, and why was there no system in place in the event of such a situation?

While admittedly it can be difficult to understand Thailand’s politics and systems of governance, it was clear for all to see that everything fell apart during the recent flooding situation.

The response from the powers that be was seriously questioned. Serious mismanagement of information by inter agencies and ministries releasing conflicting information, and media outlets competing in a bid to see who could sensationalise the situation the most led to the people of Thailand ending up confused, frustrated, and frightened.

As such virtual anarchy broke out as supermarket shelves were left empty due to panic buying, People fortified their houses with sandbags and concrete walls, abandoned cars were left on bridges and highways and neighbouring provinces began fighting amongst one another, while senior political figures seemed to use the situation to bolster their image and point the finger.

Was this how Thailand wished herself to be seen by the rest of the world?

It has to be said that this is not the first government that has diverted incoming water. It has happened before as recently as last year.

The question is: why do governments both past and present continue to allow cities industrial zones, highways, and other infrastructure to build in areas that are prone to flooding.

It appears truly bizarre, does it not, that a country lures multinational companies and investors such as Honda, Ford, and Toyota to their shores with promises of low wages, great infrastructure, and free trade zones only to stand by and let their 14,000 factories and warehouses be destroyed by floodwater. It could have been prevented, that is, were preventative measures put in place?

It is disappointing that in this day and age a fast-developing country puts individual political and financial agendas before the welfare of the country. It has the air of a lack of respect and care for its people and offers little in the way of compensation for its victims.