Wow, I just discovered something pretty surprising today -- Chinese teachers don't give the students reading assignments for class!
When I handed out the reading assignment in Constitutional Law this week, the students seemed surprised that there was "another assignment?!" I didn't think much about it, thinking the moaning and groaning was about having to read in English.
In Women & Law today, I got the same reaction.
I know reading English is hard for them, that's why I edit the cases down to the bone and only give them 10 pages or less to read. I told my students that my typical reading assignment in America was 35 pages for each class, and the classes met twice a week. I then asked how much reading their Chinese teachers assign.
The answer -- NONE! The students told me that they don't even have to buy books! The teacher either leaves it up to the student to decide what and whether to buy on the subject, or the teacher recommends some books. But the teacher DOES NOT REQUIRE THEM TO READ ANYTHING!
No WONDER they've been so floored by my assignments! Suddenly it all makes sense. I wonder why no one told me this before? Former Fulbrighters have warned that students can't read much more than 10 pages in English, but no one said they usually didn't have to read for class at all!
Not that it will change anything -- I will still be assigning reading. Part of the reason I'm here is to give them a taste of what legal education would be like in America. When I mentioned my discovery to Tracy, the Foreign Affairs secretary here at the law school, she said that one of the biggest complaints from students who go abroad to study is the amount of reading because they are just not used to doing it in Chinese, much less English. So now, after my class, they know a little more what they can expect!