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Crash course in how to make new students anxious

If you happen to be running an international education in any given country, or indeed any education at all, I have some advice about how to conduct the first week in order to make sure that the level of anxiety your new students are suffering is as high as possible.

First, separate the students into three groups, based on their skill in a certain area (I’ll use Chinese as an example). Then tell the students in the A class (the best one), that they are a lot better than the A students last year, that they are the pride of the school and that they get most time of all students in classrooms with air conditioning (or something else which makes the learning environment endurable). So far, I think this is fairly common practice in many countries, although some Scandinavian countries might be a bit hesitant about the decision to split the class in this way. Now over to the important bit.

Second, after a couple of days in the first week, when everybody is still nervous and don’t really know what’s up or down (or anything at all), tell the students in the A class that they are too many and that you need to “eliminate” three students (in Chinese, I recommend using 淘汰, which is used, among other things, for Darwinian elimination or elimination through competition). If you want to, you can also add some sort of pseudo-explanation and say that there are two A classes this semester and that changing class is not really that bad (even though simply by saying so, you are actually enhancing the importance of a change). After some more testing, you then select a few students and discuss with them what they think (this is a nice touch, but can be removed if you want to enhance the anxiety further).

Third, now that a few students have switched classes, you wait a day or two and then repeat this procedure again. Tell everybody that you need to remove another two students, and then do some additional testing and discussing with some students until you have the desired number in each class. Neat, or what? As you can see, this procedure can be reiterated as many times as you like, you don’t even have to remove students every time.

There are some additional things to take into consideration if you plan to go through with this kind of scheme. Be aware that it’s not very nice to the teacher who has to tell the students different things all the time (they definitely don’t know about how the decisions are made, shoot the messenger is common practice, I think). Also, don’t expect people to ask many questions after you do this, because most of them will still have the feeling that every time they go to class, they are being tested, and perhaps they will be the ones who are eliminated in the next round. This will also make sure that all students think that they are about half as good (or half as much worth) as they truly are.

By way of ending this post, I’d also like to propose a way of making some money by selling the broadcasting rights to some TV channel and run a show like Big Brother. This isn’t something I have personal experience of, so please note that it’s just pure speculation.

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    1. Olle Linge’s avatar

      I’m writing this comment in English, even though you asked in Swedish. Yes, this is something I experienced this week. I did survive all three rounds of elimination, but it felt like I was (and still is?) close to the edge all the time .

      Reply

      1. Martin Ackerfors’s avatar

        Well, they are just boosting your motivation. Survival of the fittest.

        And I think it’s neat with some anxiety in your life since you’ve had it really easy with apartments and such the last week. Or not.

        Keep it up and don’t let the thought of the edge get you. I know you can and will be amongst the top students in your class, heck, I know you can be the top anything anywhere.

        Reply

        1. Olle Linge’s avatar

          Thanks. :) I will survive, I hope. The good thing is that simply surviving means I’ll learn a lot of Chinese, which is sort of the whole point. I don’t need to excel to surpass my previous learning achievements, simply surviving will be quite enough. And thanks again for the encouragement. :)

          Reply

        2. Xhakhal’s avatar

          I can only think of the pictures of children in the third world using empty cans as tables and wood and soot to write with that makes me more depressed about education than reading this :(

          Reply

        3. Caroline’s avatar

          De darwinistiska undertonerna får mig att tänka på Richard Dawkins och hans slutsats att (i min tolkning) det att vara människa innebär att ha möjlighet att kliva ur det skoningslösa system som evolutionen utgör och behandla varandra på ett mer humant sätt. Synd att inte alla har lyssnat till vad han har att säga!

          Reply

          1. Olle Linge’s avatar

            Ja, det låter vettigt. Nu är det ju inte så att de som gjorde så här gjorde de med flit och de inser ju också att det inte blev bra. Det ändrar ju dock inte på faktumet att det blev väldigt dålgt och jag tycker nog att de kunde ha planerat det lite bättre. En runda eliminering var ju oundviklig som det såg ut, men de andra borde ha kunnat undvikas.

            Reply

          2. walium’s avatar

            Som blivande lärare kan man lära sig mycket även av misslyckade pedagogiska grepp och dålig planering.

            Hur upplever du annars att lärarna på universitet är jämfört med i Sverige? Är det ett mer segregerat och auktoritärt system eller är likheterna fler än skillnaderna?

            Reply

            1. Olle Linge’s avatar

              Att kalla det pedagogiskt grepp är nog lite överdrivet, då låter det som att det är med flit och det är det ju inte. Det råkade bli så, vilket känns klantigt, men det var knappast planerat så.

              Men om vi lyfter blicken från just det här fallet så håller jag med dig. Jag tror att man ibland kan lära sig mer från andra lärares misstag om man själv är student, för det är väldigt lätt att lägga märke till och känna vad som är fel.

              Det är ganska stor skillnad på systemet. Universitetet här känns som gymnasiet hemma. Attityden är aningen förmyndande, lärarna betraktas som elevernas närmaste släktingar och så vidare. Bor man på skolan finns en mängd regler som i Sverige skulle vara helt absurda (typ att man inte får gå ut efter klockan tolv). Det känns ganska gammalmobigt jämfört med vad jag upplevt av undervisning i Sverige.

              Det betyder väl inte att det inte finns fördelar, men jag tror att det är lättare att haka upp sig på nackdelarna. Jag ska skriva mer om det här senare!

              Reply