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Friday, May 6, 2011
Don't Engage in a Power Struggle
Susan steps lightly up and down the narrow aisles between the fifty-nine desks that fill her classroom in Yichang, China. Most of the students are chattering to each other in their foreign language, and a few are looking through magazines. The veteran English as a Second Language instructor stops in the aisle and speaks to one of her students.
“What class is this?” Susan says.
The student looks up at her and blinks. His face is expressionless.
“English class,” the student says.
“What book should be open on your desk?” Susan says.
The student slams his Chinese book closed and opens his English textbook.
“Thank you,” Susan says.
The teacher moves to another desk and asks the same question. The student stares at her but does not move a muscle. Susan repeats the question. The student still does not answer and Susan’s mind drifts to the advice she had received from her sister-in-law, a teacher and councilor at a high school in Vancouver Canada. ‘Don’t engage in a power struggle with the kids, especially teenagers, you will always lose.’
Susan stands in front of the class, smiles at her audience and says, “Welcome to English class.”