The Shay Rebellion | Christopher Shay

“You’re our teacher?!?”

In an Orientation meeting for new Shue Yan instructors, we were told—based on personality tests performed on the entire incoming student population—that two thirds of the student population were “analysts” and not “intuitivists.” Analysts are compliant and desire structure, while intuitivists are nonconformists with a broad perspective on topics. Because today’s global economy requires more intuitive thinking than at any previous time, we were informed that it was our job to transform our analysts into intuitivists.

Though obviously flawed as a method of depicting a mass of students, the description led me to imagine a class of students used to—even desiring—being filled with knowledge from an all-knowing and unquestionable lecturer. I feared they would react to my interactive—you could even call it “intuitive”— approach with an awkward silence.

Instead, my first classes were chocked full of enthusiastic volunteers. The variety of ways of asking about my love life left me both impressed with their English and their “intuitivist” approach to problem solving. They just kept trying new approaches to extract information, despite my repeated refusals to dispense with information.

Being a 22 year old instructor at a university means that I’m in this strange liminal state between being a teacher and a fellow student, a mentor and a peer. According to the university, part of the reason why I’m here is to “bridge the gap between students and instructors.” But it still makes navigating the teacher-student relationship difficult. The students certainly do not treat me like a normal lecturer. I can’t imagine they’d ask an older teacher whether or not he was single. It’s true; they were testing me, seeing what they could get away with. But for a first day, where a teacher tries to create a trusting environment where people are willing to take language risks, I’d say it was smashing success. Now, we’ll what happens when I force them to do some real work.

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