‘As they see Us’ Chapter Summary
Throughout chapter four of ‘as they see us,’ Nathan successfully paints the image of the American college by examining the experiences by students from various cultures. The author discusses the nature of student’s relationships through the eyes of the international students who share learning experiences from their different cultures. To help understand the differential student experiences in college, Nathan interviews students from various cultural backgrounds who give their honest opinions of their relationships and how this differs from experience in their native lands(Nathan).Nathan places significant emphasis on the characteristics of the American classroom and how this varies from one student to the other. The bottom line in the feedbacks yielded by various international students is that the American class is characterized by a high level of independence, indifference and recklessness, especially by the native students.The author describesthe American school environment as,’ a world of individualism, choice and autonomy that cries out for remediation.’ This paper narrows down this claim into the classroom setting and uses observation to assess the validity of the claim.
Report from the observation
My observation was aimed at proving the validity of Nathan’s claim in relation to the American classroom. The first class I observed constituted native and international students. The American students were paying scarce attention to an ongoing lecture. While some of them were taking notes, the majority were actively using their electronic devices such as mobile phones in a ratherdistractive manner. It was possible to outline the indifference posited by the American students in this classroom setting.
Conversely, international students held a different attitude altogether. It was surprising how these were actively engaged in taking notes during both sessions that I observed. Notably, international students also used their electronic devices but in a civilized manner and for productive purposes such as translating the lectures and other educational purposes.At one instance, I observed an international student ask a question in slightly broken English causing a commotion among the American students and couldn’t help note the low ethics held by these students (Student Observation). From my observation, it was easy to tell an international student from an American one by observing the difference in behaviourdepicted in a classroom. It would, therefore, be true to cite American class as overly informal.
Evidence from Nathan’s ‘As Others see us.’
In the chapter, Nathan reports experiences from international students that the American classroom is lacking in control and that each student was free to engage in any activity that suited them. Although the author carefully abstains from using the word disrespectful to describe the behaviours exhibited by the American students, this is really the case. In an interview with a Japanese student, they reported being fascinated by the freedom allowed the students to wear any form of clothing, including torn t-shirts or worse still pyjamas (Nathan). The student was expressing a common concern that students don’t seem to be going to class but rather an informal event of which they appeared less concerned about their outlook. A middle-eastern student expressed his dismay on the freedom to enter or exit from a classroom at any point. Again, Nathan reports how American students could interrupt a professor in the middle of the lecture, which was not common in most countries, such as those from the Middle east. The indifferent nature of the American student is evident by their hesitance to form groups with international students because of a firm conviction that they share different values.
From the commentary from some of the international students, it is possible to outline traces of positivity towards the freedom allowed in the American classroom. However, most of the cases such as students eating, drinking or sleeping in a classroom as the author reports demonstrate the adverse impacts of unlimited freedom(Nathan). The reports by the international students illustrate the gap existing between the educational system and that in other regions. On one side, the professors are dedicated to their work, evidenced by a high level of flexibility to answer questions and simplify the learning process by offering handouts for learning. The American professors are open, available for consultation and dedicated to making the students excel in their academics. This is unlike the academic professions in other countries who stick to their core purpose of lecturing in their classroom without any point of entertainment.
Perhaps Nathan’s concern by the nature of the American classroom is elevated by the nature of results given by such students in an exam.Although international students report on the teaching and educational system being simplified, Nathan ‘s interviews pose the question of the effectiveness of content offered in the American classroom. The students, although displaying less concern in their classes, still managed to get good grades in their final tests(Nathan).From Nathan’s argument and my observation, I would accredit the academic excellence of international students to the hard work they put on studies. The American curriculum, such as constant quizzes is aligned with the American culture but maybe inducing inconsistencies in academic performance.
Nathan utilizes the interviewsto illustrate the nature of the American classroom in the eyes of international students.Perhaps the freedom allowed in the classroom is right, but it is not all necessary. Freedom in the classroom, although supported by the individualist American culture does not seem to auger too well in the mainstream. Due to the freedom of students to engage in many courses, their knowledge of one single discipline is limited. The American classroom needs urgent tailoring to make it more formal and capable of supporting a useful learning process.
Nathan, Rebekah. My freshman year: What a professor learned by becoming a student. Penguin, 2006.
Student’s Ethnographic Observation
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