This is a continuation from my last post on higher education in China.
Last Wednesday was my very own 40-minute presentation. It went as about as well as Lady Gaga’s recent musical flops, aka. it didn’t go smoothly at all.
Three occurrences are worth mentioning.
His constant bombardment of interruptions and questions, many of which my presentation would have answered if he had just let me finish. But some of the questions were indeed, already answered, and he chose to ask them anyway.
I’ve done my pre-presentation meditative routine, gathered up all my nerves and drowned them with deep breaths and reassurances from fellow classmates, and was well on my way to do a well-laid out, well-prepared presentation.
About five slides into it, things were sailing as smoothly as it could, with me droning on about Specialized Economic Zones and boring the spirits out of my classmate (I don’t pretend to believe that I made an interesting report), when he stops me to ask questions.
“I have two questions for you.”
Alright Professor, come at me. I’m ready.
“From which countries did majority of the Foreign Direct Investment come from?”
“Well, as I’ve previously pointed out in my presentation, majority of it came from overseas Chinese, so at the beginning, Singapore, Taiwan (contentious “state” status), Hongkong (not a country, I know), etc.”
“No no, but which countries?”
“No, which countries?”
“If not Singapore, than I don’t know.”
“FDIs did not come from the US or Europe, it came from…” drum roll please, “overseas Chinese!”
Wait. What? Rewind!
That’s what I responded with. I said that during my presentation, I said that when you asked me that idiotic, repetitive question. And also, “Overseas Chinese” is not a country!
Alright, alright. Language barrier. I’m sure if this entire conversation was conducted in Chinese, he would have understood me much better and wouldn’t have blatantly not comprehend anything I’ve said.
But hold on! If his english was so horribly inadequate, why did the university allow him to host an entire English-based course? Mind you, I’ve edited over all of what he actually said with comprehensible English here.
Which leads to the second occurrence:
“My second question is, why did overseas Chinese invest in China?”
“I guess, patriotism?”
“They love China? Is that why?”
“That could be one of the many reasons I supposed.”
“No, you are wrong.”
“Well alright then…”
“Does anyone know why?”
Another student decided to bravely answer, “I think it’s got to do with shared culture, values, languages and like Jade said, patriotism as well.”
“No, no, you are wrong! Chinese do not love their country! That’s not why they invest in China. They invest because…” dramatic drum roll again please,
“They want money!”
“They want to make more money!” A big, toothy, moronic grin accompanies this woefully simplified, generalized and not to mention, obvious answer.
The principal job duty of an “investor” is to make more money. But thank you, for clarifying that, Professor.
His profound inability to listen to students, or if you are a positive person, his amazing ability to ignore any and all student comments, is mind-boggling.
Throughout my academic career, I have yet to hear a professor outright deny the opinions of students. “You are wrong!”; what a great, direct, authoritarian pedagogical style you have there Professor.
But wait, there’s more.
At the end of my presentation, I pointed out the fact that the bureaucratic way in which China decentralized its control over matters of the economy hindered many things, including real competition.
He didn’t seem to grasp that and once again decided to express his incomprehension in the form of a question and a critique.
“No competition? There were a lot of competition. For example, when provinces demanded more SEZs in their area. Competition! See?”
“Professor, indeed that is a form of competition, but not the one I was talking about. I was talking about market economic competition, and those weren’t fully exploited because the central government continued to hold the power of determining the value of the RMB and exchange rates.”
“But without competition, as you say, there would no market economy. This is basic economics! Have you ever taken an economics course before? What was your major?”
“Um…I majored in international relations. And I’ve taken only two courses in the first year of my undergrad.”
“In Canada, Vancouver, at UBC.”
“I see. That’s why you don’t understand this.” He smirked knowingly and sympathetically.
That was not a question. It was a statement. He basically called me an idiot when it comes to international political economy, or economics of any kind, because I hadn’t majored in economics nor taken what he deemed to be sufficient amount of courses on the subject.
Offensive, to say the least. But I admit, I am not particular apt at economics, which is why I took this course in the first place. I wanted to learn from an expert on the subject. Yet, instead, I get a professor who not only refuses to teach properly, or teach at all for that matter (refer to my previous post), but also harshly criticizes the opinions of the students and tramples all whom do not agree with him. Plus, his English is through the floor horrible.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the climax and finale to my presentation.
I wish I could say he was the exception, that I haven’t had other professors with similar attitudes and teaching styles here. To be fair, this one has been the worst I’ve encountered so far. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I am deeply disappointed with my educational experience here.
China, oh how great your long march still is.