Sunday, April 15, 2007

Beating Axl Rose to the Punch

The initials for the band Guns n' Roses are often labeled as "G F'n R". I'm sure that you can figure out with that F stands for. My initials are GFR, I sometimes say "G F'n R" as an homage to the band. And because I think that it's funny. For more than a decade the band has been working on an album called "Chinese Democracy", which will probably never be produced. Well today, I beat them to the punch.

While I have planned and delivered many lessons before, this one was different. Not only was it going to be my first time in front of an entire group of Chinese ESL students, but I had a difficult topic, Parliamentary Democracy. To make it even more challenging, my AT suggested that I include some sort of activity in my lesson. I knew of only one way to do this. Stage a mock parliament.

That's right, the foreigner planned on staging an election in an oppressive communist country on my first teaching day.

I spent the first 40 minutes of the lesson discussing the different groups of Parliament and how they interact (i.e. the Monarchy and House of Lords/Senate do pretty much nothing). And
I described how a bill becomes a law. Then the fun started.

I had them all take a small political survey that I made up to figure out which party they would be in and then I had them divide into three groups to stage the debate. Interestingly enough, both classes had a fairly even split between the Centrist and the Leftist (Liberals and NDP for those of you who don't know that that means) with very few Right Wing members of the class. I even had the parties select a leader to represent them, and giving our class a Prime Minister.

The first Bill we discussed (I came up with it) was that we should ban Cell Phones for anyone under the Age of 21, which was met with genuine disgust. However some students proposed amendments to the Bill with the first group lowering the age to 18 and the second lowering it to 16. Also the first group suggested that we make it illegal to talk on the phone and drive at the same time (a motion which failed).

The second Bill I proposed was switching all of the food at the cafeteria to Western Style Food, saying that it was more cost effective. This was turned down as well but some students suggested that they change some of the cafeterias to Western Food, and many saying that it was less healthy. One bright students said that we weren't asking the students what they wanted so if the students did not like the food than nobody would eat at the cafeterias and they would loose money. It was absolutely brilliant.

All in all it was a really good day of teaching for me thus far. I have the mixed pro and con of teaching the same thing nine times throughout the week, so I'm looking forward to refining this activity and finding some more stories.

I was impressed at how well they responded to Democracy, they got the concept fairly quickly. Hopefully I won't get a stern talking to for this one. If you don't hear from me in the next little while then please just call the Embassy.

Until next time,


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