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Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby Loretta » 11 Jul 2011, 09:50

GuyInTaiwan wrote:That's where they miss the boat. Finland doesn't do well on international tests because it tries to do well on tests. Finland does well on international tests precisely because it doesn't give a shit about international tests. It cares about educating people. Good test performance follows from that.

I know that. You know that. The Finnish education experts I met a few months ago knew that. But it was clear, listening to the Taiwanese at the roundtable, that their understanding was limited by their agenda. The guy who actually stated the problem clearly is an old friend teaching in a good university, who has a lot to say (unofficially) about the several education committees he is on.

Anyway, we're on the topic of 'Chinese Logic,' not having yet another pointless rant about the local education system. Here's another one:

It was an adult class in which they had to read and understand a text about the role of sleep in memory. The article quoted various research and experiments demonstrating that sleep-deprived people remember and learn less than people who get a good night's sleep. In the discussion afterwards, the students were able to explain to me that staying awake late at night studying was not as effective as going to bed, and waking up refreshed ahead of the next day of learning.

So... how many hours of sleep do you get? Typically five hours a night, they reply. And I ask if they're going to change anything in order to get better grades.

You can guess the answer, I'm sure. It had a lot to do with "too much work" and "no time," and included my favourite phrase: in Taiwan...... !

My personal theory is that the collective nature of Taiwanese society prevents people from accepting (at an emotional level) anything that is not in agreement with the accepted wisdom. It doesn't matter what the rational basis for anything may be. If believing it means being different from everyone else, then nobody is going to believe it.

It's the difference between adaptive learning and integrative learning. Everything you tell someone has to be integrated into what they already know, ie not contradict anything. If they have to adapt their beliefs to accomodate the new information then it's not going to happen. It's a natural tendency everywhere, often remarked on in the "Google makes us stupid" camp, but amplified by the hive mentality in Taiwan.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby Jack Burton » 11 Jul 2011, 10:17

tsukinodeynatsu wrote:This line was parroted for around a thousand years, up until Sima Qian (in his telling of the tale) asked 'Really? Why shouldn't they have been bitter?'


You mean a few centuries. let's not get caught up in the hyperbole of 5-thousand year blah blah.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby Jack Burton » 11 Jul 2011, 10:20

Chris wrote:
finley wrote:What makes that really funny is the implicit subtext: she knows more about English writing than you do (yet, she's still asking you to fix it ...).

That's a staggeringly common assumption among Taiwanese people: that educated native speakers of English are not very competent in their own language, and the Taiwanese know better because they studied English in school for years.


I would definitely say foreigners' knowledge of idioms as more knowledgeable than native speakers is invariably false. One might have more "proper" grammatical English, but idioms, no way, especially not Chinese.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby Ducked » 12 Jul 2011, 08:03

For a long while, until it disintegrated, I used a large plastic bottle top (cut to accommodate the strap), as a wrist-watch protector. It served a practical mechanical purpose, but secondarily functioned as a cultural devining rod (pretentious, moi?).

In the UK, reactions ranged from indifference (the majority, naturally) through "that looks bloody silly" to "thats quite clever, really".

In Taiwan, there was an additional, quite common reaction (Mostly from girls, but then I mostly talk to girls.)

Taiwanette: "You can't do that"
Me: "What do you mean? I've already done it. Why can't I do it?"
Taiwanette: "Because nobody does it"

Thats one of my favorite Taiwanese exchanges. Apologies if (as seems likely) I've mentioned it before.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 12 Jul 2011, 08:17

ed: Haha. That's funny.
And you coming in to scold us all like some kind of sour-puss kindie assistant who favors olive cardigans and lemon drinks without sugar. -- Muzha Man

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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby finley » 12 Jul 2011, 11:14

That's too far out there to be funny. Just sublime. Absolutely classic.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby asiaeast » 12 Jul 2011, 11:26

Anything is possible. I worked for a branch manager one time who would change students grades (when no one was looking) so more students would pass so she would make more money. When they caught her at it, she got promoted. It's like classic Eron. Making money is always good. Better to pass the students than to lose a dollar.

Talking about funny. One time I had a class where students always agreed with me. I told them I would give them a better grade if they disagreed with me on the test. Still, no one took the challenge. Classic risk aversion.

One time I told my class, "Right now, I am lying to you." This is a paradox showing how logic breaks down at a point (hence the need for fuzzy logic). So I asked the students, "Am I lying or telling the truth?" They said, "You are lying." I said, "Why?" "Because you said you are lying." "But if I'm lying, then what I said is not true, so it can't be a lie, which means I'm telling the truth. So am I lying or telling the truth?" "You are telling the truth." "Why?" "Because you said you are telling the truth." I gave up at that point...
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby Ducked » 14 Sep 2011, 14:18

Newsflash! (Suspense killing y'all, right?) Just had the first Grade Change Cockup Committee hearing.

To their credit, they seem to have lightened up on the "in-depth report in pentuplicate" requirement, though that may come later. They just reproduced my original email, as below (names changed on parenoid-principle)

Hi Dr Boss

One of the students in my Wednesday class did not attend the Midterm test. I attempted to contact her yesterday directly via email/phone, and via the Language Centre and her department to see if she had a valid reason for abscence. Our departmental secretary was unable to contact her by phone, and (I assume) her department did not provide any relevant information, though subsequent events suggest there may be some on record.

In the abscence of any other information I submitted a failing grade for her last night.

I recieved an email and phone call from her today, telling me that she had to attend her Grandfathers funeral at the time of the midterm, and had been absent for 2 weeks.

I assume this abscence, and the reason for it, is on record and can be verified. I further assume that this would be considered a valid reason for abscence.

In her email she said she had asked me about a makeup test and I had said that if she had a valid reason for abscence I would give her the same grade as she got for the final exam. I didn't initially recall that conversation, but it is what I would have said, so I believe that it took place.

I would probably have made a note on my grading spreadsheet, but this was lost in a virus attack and had to be rebuilt from the original test papers, so if there was any such note it would have been lost.

This is clearly a failure on my part and I am accordingly applying to initiate the grade change procedure for this student.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

Class:
Classlist number 10

Department:

Student No.

[Chinese name]

Submitted Grade 52%

Changed Grade 75%



Regards,

I explained what happened (in different words) adding (in partial mitigation) that none of the three other students who missed tests that I had been able to contact, had a valid excuse, and that this is the general pattern, ending with a mea culpa and a plea to spare the innocent. Not a dry eye in the house.

Immediately before the meeting, the boss and I had a slightly heated discussion on my "grade subtitution" policy, which she feared was going to be "controversial", and might jeopardise my contract renewal if I was "stubborn" about it.

I (perhaps rather tactlessly just before an enquiry with censure as its sub-text) pointed out that she had been aware of it for several years, and defended it as both fairer and more efficient than the suggested alternatives.

In the event, AFAIK, (the meeting was mostly conducted in Mandarin) no one raised it, and translated comment consisted of an admonition to double-check before submitting, pretty much a non-sequiter in this case since I'd tried to, and hadn't been able to get any information from the girls department.

"Don't submit if in any doubt" would be more meaningful/useful, but that would involve a policy decision anchored in reality. "Dont make mistakes" is much simpler.

I understand thats only the first (low) hurdle and there's another two (successively higher) to go.

Bet y'all can hardly wait, eh?
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby Ducked » 26 Nov 2011, 16:33

The girl just emailed me as to what had happened about her grade, so I checked with the boss.

Apparently I was "tried" in absentia a couple of months ago, because I was teaching at the time of the committee meeting. Probably just as well since, although apologetic about the grade screwup, I wasn't inclined to be about not doing a makeup, and might have made disparaging remarks about Chinese academic traditions and culture.

The grade change was approved, (though no one apparently thought it worth telling me or the student affected) but the boss passed on the message that my continued employment would be seriously threatened if I did not give a makeup test in similar circumstances in future.

She suggested that I just repeat the test, but with a 10% "discount". "That will be better and fairer" :loco:

I said it would not do such a thing voluntarily, since it was both unfair and illogical, but if she told me it was a new, mandatory (unfair and illogical) school policy then I would comply under protest.

So we agreed that's what I'll do.

(I didn't say anything about what I'd do with the score, though.) :whistle:

There is actually a valid reason for doing this (though of course I had to supply it myself, since AFAIK Confucious never specifically commented on it).

IF I elected to use the end-of-term instead of a makeup test for the midterm, and a student so affected had a valid reason for missing the end-of-term test AS WELL, I'd have trouble coming up with a defendable grade for them, so maybe its worth having a makeup in reserve for that unlikely eventuality.

Action on a validly missed end-of-term only was not discussed. I assume that the farcical facial massage that passes for Chinese Logic would require a makeup in that case too, though that could be very difficult against the background of disappearing students and impending grade submission deadlines.

I suppose I'll demolish that bridge when I've retreated across it.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 26 Nov 2011, 17:18

I do not envy you at all.
And you coming in to scold us all like some kind of sour-puss kindie assistant who favors olive cardigans and lemon drinks without sugar. -- Muzha Man

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