Home at last

I returned home at the end of June. It was nice to leave the heat of Beijing, and the weather in recent weeks in the UK has been pretty good. Before I depart to Scotland for a week’s holiday, a friend (in China) asked for an update on life back in Blighty.

Brexit has been dominating the news and, once again, there seems to be no logical argument from those in favour leaving the EU, especially about the impact on business when we leave, if Britain does not remain part of a customs union. Whether we will get a general election, remains to be seen, but it can’t get much worse (I do not think)!

And then there was the football…. I had many students watch the World Cup and some message me about it, even though many games air at 02:00 in the morning in China. Those I spoke to about it recognised, like many people here, that it was a good competition for England, and that they did very well to get to the semi-final, and that they could be proud of their achievement. I do not know much else about football, though, so I will leave it at that.

I have uploaded all my students’ grades. This was a more complicated task (or so I thought), than it should or could have been. I assigned high grades to all my students – an A grade is 90-94, and an A+ is 95-100. After factoring in all the different parts of the grades (class grade, attendance, exams and so on), their overall grades were, on the whole, good. But in a group of four, if three students get 93, for example, and the other group member got a 90, (because their listening exam grade was not as good), would they bother? I was not sure. I balanced all my grades out, and uploaded them anyway. The day after, a student messaged me to say thank you for their 4.5 grade. I said I had assigned them a 95 (they are very good), and he pointed out that yes, I did, but 4.5 is his GPA for my class.

Being British, I do not really understand GPA. He then told me that it does not really matter if a student got 90 or 94, their GPA would still be 4.0. So, for all the time I spent organising and balancing grades was, mostly, time that could have been spent doing other things. Still, the grades are now online and those students who I have spoken to, seem to be happy with their grade, which is good.

I recently had my first Chinese class since coming home, through the website of the Chinese school I go to. There were technical issues from the start which meant the class began about ten minutes’ late. When the class did eventually begin, it was not a great class. I forgot a lot of stuff and kept having to be corrected by my teacher. Hopefully my next class will be an improvement…

After the holiday to Scotland, I should begin to plan my classes for the new semester, and work out what I need to do for my culture course. A student who took a class in American history this semester – and who asked me a couple of questions about it – seemed to have spent most of the semester studying philosophy and not much about culture in modern America at all. Hopefully mine will be better!

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