Me: What’s the most important quality for a teacher?
Student: They should be smelly. (I think she meant smiley, but still not a great answer!)
Me: Why do you want to teach in JiangCheng?
Student: I don’t, but maybe I will have to if I can find nothing better. (scraping the barrel, then?)
Me: Tell me about a teacher you had once who you remember.
Student: I remember Mrs Li was an inspiration to me. (blimey ... good English here!) He was for inspire to me where my English speaking made better. (ouch ... you blew it!)
Me: Why do you want to be a teacher?
Student: Back in World War Two (... oh here we go ...) Japan had two nuclear bombs dropped on it by America. Their economy came back very fast. This is because of education. So I want to be a teacher. (... just in case China gets nuked, eh?)
It was quite frightening how few of them could tell me simply why they liked teaching, or why they wanted to be a teacher. There was lots of talk about how China needs education to develop, and how cute children are, but it seemed like none of them had considered the realities of a teaching life or, perhaps, made a specific choice to teach (rather than be forced into it as everything else had failed!). As ever, very worrying.