Responsibility

The sense of responsibility is another constituent of these teachers' structure of the lived experience of the teacher, a sense grounded in the Chinese ideal of jiao shu yu ren. Constant reflection is one of the ways that this sense of responsibility finds expression. 'So ... I have just been constantly thinking about that problems, and also I constantly write down students' mistakes, like this year's, and then you can find the common mistakes' (P1: 46). P25 is equally reflective in her practice: '[For a certain] class, I think I've done a good job. But why? Sometimes I will ask myself some questions. Or maybe the students actually are not very interested in [my] questions, somehow say, "Why? What's the matter?"' (276-277).

This kind of constant reflection leads the teachers to consider each lesson, each activity, every year so that they can better fulfil their responsibility as Chinese teachers.

P41 related the most dramatic example of the Chinese teacher's sense of responsibility, demonstrating both the jiao shu concern for content, and the yu ren concern for moral and personal development:

You know, [my English teacher in the late 1970s] wanted me to learn. You know, one day . .. because I was a kid and just wanted to ... have some fun, right? But he just watched and . .. you know, like parents, he just were ( sic) very strict. I was in my dormitory, I just, you know, opened the door and, you know, left the light on, and just went out. And, uhhhh, the next day - uhhhh, every day he gave me some work to do, right? And he said, 'Did you do some work last night?'

And I said 'Yes.'

And he said, 'I went to your dorm and you were not there.'

I said, 'Yes, I was there the whole night.'

'No, you weren't.'

'Yes, I was.' [Here, P41 is reverting to a small, adolescent voice.]

'No.'

'I just, you know, left for a few minutes.'

And he said, 'I was in the dorm for a half an hour, and you were not back.' [P41 laughs]

Moreover, P41 also related that the students would see the teacher's light on late into the night as he created every lesson from scratch. This teacher is the archetype of Chinese responsibility.

 
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