Sunday, November 05, 2006

Do you have a problem with authority?

In my years as a social worker, I was continally told I had problems with authority. Joe's superiors in the church oftentold him the same thing. Of course I have a problem with authority! So does every American.
The university chancellor told me I was needed to teach a prep course for the TOEFL exam. This is a test of English profieciency for foreign students wishing to study in the North America, New Zealand, or Australia. I told the chancellor I'd love to, but I'm already teaching 14 hours. No problem, said the chancellor's assistant. There are two younger American teachers, recent graduates, and 4 hours could be transferred to them. I said, "Have you asked them? How much will you pay them for the extra work?"
The chancellor's assistant stared at me in disbelief. They did not expect to pay my young colleagues extra. But of course, the colleagues would say yes. "We will tell them the university has decided they must teach these courses. And they will, " said the chancellor's assistant.
Very tactfully, I explained this strategy would not be effective with Americans. The university would have to ask, not give orders. And since my colleagues would be doing extra work, they had to be paid for it. The assistant, a thoughtful young woman with whom I quite friendly, stared at me in disbelief. "How do Americans get anything done?" she inquired. "In society, there must be discipline, and people must do as they're told."
As I say, in America everyone has problems with authority. Thank God!
Above: Our university is located in the beautiful city of Weihai, whose harbor is shown here.

1 comment:

Jana Dobesova said...

Very interesting, Roz. I could talk to you about this for at least an hour and I already have talked to you some but this is fascinating. I would not say every American has an issue with authority. Some people less and some more. This issue in your blog post a cultural thing that most Americans would have an issue with but not all would speak up like you did. In fact I think most would be angry inside but would not say a word.

What does tomorrow mean? It is 5:30 pm here, but at home it’s 5:00 in the morning. I leave Weihai tomorrow and make a stop in Beijing. ...