13 January 2010

Brad Who?

I have been asked to privately teach the children across the road.
They are a family known in this area as being part of Cambodia's elite; their uncle is supposed to be addressed by all as 'Your Excellency.'

My first class with them was focused on 'describing people', using a powerpoint showing various people from around the world.
One of those faces...Brad Pitt.

When I asked these secondary school kids who he was, they shook their heads.
"Brad Pitt," I said.
Blank faces stared back- they had never heard of him.

Yet, Angelina Jolie is well-known for her involvement in Cambodia, her movies filmed here, and her Cambodian-born son Maddox. But the kids had no idea about her, or her famous movie-making husband, Brad.


  1. I did a similar lesson with some far less wealthy students and the name Brad Pitt meant absolutely nothing to them, either.

  2. No, it's not important to know who Brad is.

    However, my point was that these kids sometimes aren't taught a wider view of the world. And, I don't mean just knowing parts of western culture.

    When I teach I like to reveal a world view that lets a student know what they are a part of. Life doesn't end at the Cambodian or Thai borders.

    I know who the Korean super bands, Chinese movie stars and Thai popstars are. It is all part of learning and having a bigger idea of what is around you.

  3. So, do you still think "Brad" was still a good choice to make?

    When you say "reveal" isn't that just your imposition of the "wider world" onto the kids? They have a "wider world" which includes their families, their village, the animals and nature. Why do they have to learn about some famous Hollywood actor?

    For EFL Cambodian kids it may be better to draw attention to their own culture before teaching them about American culture. That can come later if at all.

    Teachers bring their world view to the classroom but I think we should first start with the student world view first.

    With all due respects to you and your school...


  4. Tchansan,

    At no point did I say that Brad was a 'choice'. You have a reading comprehension disorder.

    If you take time going back over my blog entry you will read that Brad's face was one of many that I used in a lesson about describing people, not a lesson about American culture as you state.

    I have made no 'impositions' as you say, about a 'wider world'. I spoke of a world view, not about animals and nature. Where did that come from. Perhaps you need glasses.

    Additionally, if you come to Cambodia you would see for yourself that students want to learn about what is around them, as any inquiring mind does.

    You obviously have racist tendencies if you consider that any other culture other than the student's own should be taught at all, your words.

  5. My goodness me...aren't we being just a tad testy.

    When you post a blog and offer it to the world, you should accept comments openly.

    There are a number of points that you raise but I will not go into because they will only fall on deaf ears.

    I am only offering what I honestly think with only 14 years of EFL/ESL teaching experience in south Asia so you are probably more qualified than me.

    Have a think about your last comment.

    Do you think it is a reflection of your teaching and of your manner? No wonder your students want free lessons.

    And one last point: Yes, I am aware of my bigotry and my numerous other faults but I try not to let them rub off in my teaching. I still maintain you are better off understanding the culture of the learner
    and then go from there.

  6. 'When you post a blog and offer it to the world, you should accept comments openly.'

    Quite so. We have done that- we could have deleted any of your comments at any time. That doesn't mean though that we provide a vehicle for you to provide stupid, false comments without the right of reply.

    You say that there are a number of points that Ann raises but that you won't go into them. Yet, you are happy to write such tripe as 'No wonder your students want free lessons.' So you would have us believe that calling an idiot an idiot somehow reflects on how we teach? That's nonense as I suspect you know. Cowardly, stupid and ill-informed.

    Ann's accusation that you have a 'reading disorder' seems more than fair. Afterall she's told you twice that Pitt or American culture was never the subject of the lesson.

    I have to wonder though, what sort of teacher would fail to realise that kids wouldn't, or, as you suggest, shouldn't have an interest in the wider-world? Does a small-minded teacher make for a good teacher in your wacko world?