Rainy Day Rainy Day Magic

Market Entrance
Market Entranceway

I actually like rainy days a lot. Maybe this comes from living in a  dry climate my whole life. It rained all day Sunday, so I got some more shots of the market area.

The latest newcomer to the cluster of mobile fast food outlets caught my eye to the right of the path.  The cart says Yangzhou Fried Rice — Yangzhou is a city closer to Shanghai than to here.  But the main attraction was the black and white picture of draft board Uncle Sam.  The cart’s labeling says he’s calling himself “Uncle Sam.” I guess HE WANTS ME . . . . . to buy friend rice.

Granny and Toddler
The Leopard Kid – watching everything.

As I took this picture, I glimpsed over my shoulder two pairs of eyes looking into the picture display on the back of the camera.  It appeared to be a granny and toddler, so how could I not snap their picture and show it to the kid?  You can see it, too.

This is the sort of thing that will be missing when the school moves next year to the middle of the land of nothing.  You won’t find many grannies out there.

rolling out the bing
Rolling out the bing – the fryer lays behind.

There is new housing being built for university  employees, and it’s being heavily promoted. And it’s also quite a bargain by East Asia standards. But it’s something like ten miles from the school, maybe in some other island of development.  When you’re used to a five minute commute, something like that hasn’t much appeal.  And if you’re faced with an hour commute to the new school from your present location, well, at least at the present location there are people like these to share the community.

PJ Civilization
PJ Civilization

Closer to the market itself, the puddles get  deeper. Luckily there are bricks and old boxes lying around that can conveniently serve as fording material.

And the picture shows what I consider the hallmark of a great civilization – the freedom to wear pajamas out of the house. Any society that condones such things must truly be considered great.

I know I’d never leave my robes if that were acceptable.

A few years ago, during the Olympics and during the Shanghai Expo, there was a big government campaign against displaying such sleepware in public, which I could never understand. Don’t they realize what they’ve got?  It’s the rest of the world that’s behind on this one.

Bridges of Brick
Bridges of Brick

Anyway, here’s a parting shot of the bricks to the market.  I was enjoying the sight immensely because I have waterproofed shoes.

I didn’t have to take the brickway. I could just take the pictures.

And again, there are standard-type stores and supermarkets and restaurants nearby, where you can buy food and other items without the danger of getting your feet wet, but to me, those places lack atmosphere and authenticity and the informal, laid-back atmosphere.

Anyway, that was my one break from lesson planning after church yesterday.

But speaking of church, it was the taxi ride back that was truly magical.

As one can imagine, taxi drivers often have their sound system turned on. Usually it’s local news, or sometimes Chinese opera, or Chinese standup comedy. But this guy was listening to Luciano Pavarotti singing opera arias along with other Italian classics.

There’s something magical about a rainstorm beating down on the car from all directions, and bouncing off the windshield,  with the car full of beautiful sound.  I finally know enough Chinese to recognize simple words when spoken to me, so we exchanged some standard pleasantries.

We lapsed into silence, and the music paused as well. The rain continued its tap-tap-tap on the fuselage.  And then Pavarotti began singing Ave Maria. “hmm,” I said.  “Huh?” said the taxi driver. “Ave Maria,” I said

Taxi Tenor
Taxi Tenor

Well, that’s all it took.  The guy erupted with one of the most beautiful singing voices I’d ever sat so close to.  He continued singing Ave Maria and other opera classics all the rest of the way home.  And that was truly magical.  Especially with the rain.

And naturally I snapped his picture.

I’ll add one thing to end this post.

I find myself here in China, perhaps the only place on earth more dedicated than America is to the behaviorist / John Locke principle that the learner’s mind is a blank slate, and that teachers (or parents or preachers or “experts”) simply pour in whatever formula or gruel that they choose, and the learner will embrace it.

I guess it’s obvious that I don’t share that point of view.

In teaching university students here, I was struck by how much they need the same instructional methodologies that I learned while teaching in elementary school, teaching methodologies that are fairly common in those early grades, but much less so the loftier you ascend into the stratosphere of academic life, until you reach the American graduate school, of course, which is more-or-less structured like a traditional kindergarten (and all the better for it).

Anyway, it’s nice to see one’s reality confirmed by experts. So here’s a link to a recent article touting the superiority of active teaching over lecturing. You can see it by clicking here.