I wanted to tell you a quick story that might contextualize some of my recent actions.
Anyway, maybe a month ago I was driving back from the office. I stopped at the store to pick up some Bacardi (my favorite), and was maybe 5 minutes from my house when I hit another bike. The bike was carrying a woman and her kid, and they jumped in front of me (and stopped, frogger style), when I was glancing over my shoulder for a lane change.
A RESPONSE TO LIBEL
Here is what Matthew Arnold had to say in his book, Culture and Anarchy, about American Philistines. Rather than say it himself — that would have been too harsh and Matthew Arnold walks more often in sweetness and light than I do — he approvingly quotes a certain monsieur Renan on the same subject:
I'M OFTEN WRONG
So, you admit that our students have achieved high…yet you say that we make them achieve low. This is a contradiction. It’s the kind of logical or descriptive error that we commonly point out to our students. The fact that you made such an error in public while accusing others of vice should make you feel uncomfortable. This is a positive and productive discomfort that should help you make fewer mistakes of like kind in the future.
RESPONSE TO AN ANONYMOUS CRITIC
I was having a discussion with Michael about beliefs, and I realized that I should write something detailing my own beliefs, specifically focusing on how those beliefs have changed. This is an important exercise. If your beliefs rarely change, it means that you aren’t learning. I like to have a fairly major belief change every six months or so. If I go longer than that, I begin to worry about my mental state.
UNPACKING VIETNAMESE EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
Apparently one of my articles has been making the rounds and even drawn a rather long bit of criticism on Facebook! Very exciting.
First of all, if you disagree with me, feel free to leave a comment on the blog or send me an email. If your response is written properly and is sufficiently well thought out, I’ll even publish it here. But it feels gross, when online authors are so accessible, to write or see extensive criticisms of someone behind their back. Why, oh why, would you wish to deny me the ability to respond?
One of the funnier and more insistent claims that I get from both Vietnamese parents and students is how much the Vietnamese value education, teachers, and knowledge. This is either a blatant, self-conscious lie or something is lost in translation. In my five years in Vietnam, I can count on one, maybe two hands, the number of students I’ve met who actually care about “knowledge”, in the Western sense, the sense that they claimed. What Vietnamese students (and parents) care about more than anything else is status and material success.