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Contemplating Chinese Speed and English Time 欲速则不达,中西无不同

发表于 2019 年 07 月 19 号 目录 杂谈/Points | Contemplating Chinese Speed and English Time 欲速则不达,中西无不同已关闭评论

段玉佩按:这是一篇写于2018年年底的文章,标题来自我的搭档,Dr. Brian O’Hare在工作中常常说的一句口头禅。现在看来,文中的内容我个人也觉得观点正确,值得在任何一个中西方兼容的工作环境中注意。敝帚自珍,立此存照。

Authors: Yupei Duan (Danny), Brian O’Hare

“Danny, you know, this is another ‘Chinese Speed versus English Time’ issue also…” were the words uttered to me by my coworker one day as we were planning our agenda for the week. Since Brian is the International Academic Dean at the Future Leadership Academy, I accepted his remarks just like he would accept some suggestions from me. Brian and I learn from each other and work together closely. The concepts of “Chinese speed and English time,” as he put it, were definitely good things to think about as an international team was forming. These words, I would later come to find out, have become a very important lesson for anyone working in a bilingual environment with two very different cultural approaches to time management.

 

Before starting my current position as the Chinese Academic Dean in FLA, for 10 years I worked in an elite high school in Beijing. When I worked as a subject teacher there, in my opinion, teachers on campus were just like soldiers on the front line of a conflict. They all needed to be given instant responses to spontaneous incidents so that they could be better prepared to fight to win. I was trained to finish preparing an excellent lesson plan with a well-organized PPT within 40 mins in my college. My education reinforced the notion that work was to be finished before the deadline. My mentor in college once told me, “If you have time for your meals, then you have time for your lesson plan.” It became one of my common habits that all assigned tasks should be finished ASAP, and that I should say “Yes, sir” to everything asked of me on campus just like on an army base. Because I grew up on an army base it was a natural response for me to obey orders without question. Now, however, I would like to reflect on this response after finishing one semester’s worth of work with many international colleagues. Is this truly necessary? What are the real reasons for such a short time for preparation? Are there any better and wiser solutions?

 

At the beginning of the first semester, I held a meeting with all of the parents, students, faculty and staff to introduce the schedules, after school programs, facilities, etc. At the same time, I had planned to ask subject teachers to present a brief introduction at the meeting. When I shared this idea with Brian, he suggested that I write requirement in an email and to distribute the proposal to all teachers ASAP to give them more time to prepare. I expressed how I did not think it was very hard to handle an introduction for a subject teacher, yet Brian reminded me that it would be more acceptable if teachers received tasks at least 24 hours in advance. It was not exactly clear what was asking of them last minute, which then turned into a conversation about what kinds of introductions we wanted them to present. Should these introductions focus on their classes or other academic requirements? Or should these be presentations about the teachers’ experiences in and out of the classroom?  It became obvious that I did not think very carefully through all of the details. Later, we sent a message to describe all the details we wanted the teachers do, which led to a more effective and productive meeting in the long run.

 

Over the next few months, similar phenomena would happen. Gradually, I found a lot of advantages from jumping into something without thinking of all the possibilities more thoroughly. As a dean, I need to strategize ahead and think broader about certain topics than teachers and other staff. In this way, I must arrange plans and design blueprints ahead of department heads and coordinators. The more detailed the plans I have found, the better arrangement I can make for providing the best leadership and mentorship to all teachers. In hindsight, I would like to thank Brian who fist mentioned to me this notion of “Chinese speed versus English time”, which is clearly expressed by a Chinese idiom: More haste, less speed. (欲速则不达)

 

Unfortunately, being efficient cannot overstep the dignity deserving of all staff at FLA. For example, one night at an online meeting that included some administrators and myself, I had still wanted to express an idea when the meeting organizer abruptly ended the meeting by saying goodbye and hanging up the call. My sentence was interrupted and the meeting was finished, yet because I felt it was not right to occupy others’ time in such a manner, I could accept how the meeting ended. I personally believed that it was my fault for the curt behavior since I had extended the meeting time. The next morning, a colleague who attended that meeting told me that she felt sorry about how I was interrupted during my final statement. She did not think it was polite and wanted me to feel better about the situation. In actuality, I did not think anything was wrong at that time because of the idea of “Chinese speed” was one of my working philosophies already. Therefore, I could understand and accept this abrupt behavior. When another colleague found me to talk individually to explain his thoughts about that encounter, and then later, a third and fourth colleague came to comfort me separately, I began to realize something was amiss. Finally, I received a written apology from the meeting organizer. Several days later when we had another online meeting, he again apologized. These apologies left me confused again. Why would my international colleagues value their time and yet act differently when I had disregarded it? My understanding of “English time” with all of its rules and regulations is still something I am discovering the more I engage with the international staff.

 

In ending, I now understand that the school is more like a garden than a battle field. We need to be patient and detailed gardeners in order for the flowers and trees to grow. This requires us to nurture ideas, and take more time to make sure the quality of the word is not lost for the sake of speed. We do not have to be brave warriors who do know how to finish the work on time, but who do not know how to say “No” to decision-makers even if there are apparent flaws in their plans. As leaders, we need to keep the lines of communication open more, then we will be able to find out the real problems across various departments within the institution. By trying our best to avoid making mistakes, we can see the big picture when the problems regarding “speed” and “time” are really related to quantity versus quality. Before I became dean, I thought I partly understand this concept of “Chinese Speed versus English Time,” and I now know that I have a lot to learn from my international colleagues. The same goes for them as they learn to work in a different culture that sometimes moves at the speed of light, and I hope that we can learn to balance our quality of time and quantity of speed together.

《欲速则不达,中西无不同》
段玉佩 吴炳琨
“段,你知道吗?这又是一个有关于‘东方速度,西方时间’的问题……”这句话来自我的搭档,外方学术主任Brian O’Hare博士, 当时我们正在制定学术部的周日程,我接受了他对我日程修改的看法——就像他也常常会采纳我的建议一样,合作融洽的我俩常常分享一句话,“东方速度,西方时间”——这是Brian在发现东西方教育工作方式的不同时,常脱口而出的一句话。同时,在国际教育团队的熔炼过程中,这也是非常重要的一个话题。在我们共事的过程中,我逐渐发现在多文化交汇,双语言使用的国际学校中,对这个话题的深入思考,是非常必要的。
在我成为未来领导力学校的中方学术主任之前,我曾在北京某精英公立中学工作了10年。在为师的历程中,我一直认为教师就应该像前线的勇士,他们需要对瞬时发生的事件作出即时和有效的反馈,这样才能获取战斗的胜利。在大学时代,我被训练在40分钟内完成一节课的高质量教案和演示文档。在我曾工作的学校,所有的老师都知道“课比天大”。我的导师曾对我说过这样的话:“你如果有时间吃饭,你就有时间写教案。”“按时完成任务”在潜移默化中成为了我的工作常识之一。无论什么样的任务布置给我,我的第一反应都应该是像军人那样回答“是,好的。”对于从小在军营中长大的我来说,这是司空见惯的事。 不过,在国际学校环境中与文化多元的国际化教师群体工作了一段时间之后,我觉得自己之前的做法和想法可能有些问题。很多事情真的有必要做吗?很多事情着急要做的真正原因到底是什么?还有没有更好的选项呢?
上一学期刚刚开始,我要给所有的家长、学生、教职工开会,介绍学校的课程结构,必修课、课后活动、教学场所等等。同时,我也期望任课教师们在那个会上可以做一些简要的自我介绍。当我把这个想法和Brian分享时,他建议我尽量提前发邮件来通知所有的老师做好准备。我当时觉得这么做没必要,因为任课教师做自我介绍,还不是手到擒来吗?Brian提醒我说,最好提前24小时给老师们安排任务,别到现场才让老师知道他们要做介绍。“另外,你具体想让老师们介绍什么呢?是介绍他们的课程?还是介绍课程的学术标准?抑或是让他们介绍自己的工作经历?”很明显,我之前完全没有想到这么细致。之后,我们将具体的要求发送给各位老师,会议的质量一下子就提高了很多。
在之后几个月中,此类事件发生了好多次。逐渐的,我从这句话中学习到了很多内容。我开始喜欢上了谋定而后动的坦然,厌弃了焦躁仓促地决策。作为学术主任,我需要比一线教师们想的更长远更全面,只有这样,我才能站在更高的位置俯瞰学校课程的全貌,教学体系的蓝图。计划和方案制定的越精细,更高质量的教育成果才越有可能出现。我特别想感谢Brian的这句话,其实他也是从另外一个角度让我认识到了我们中国的古语“欲速则不达”。
不过,在FLA,还有比对于时间的珍视更重要的东西,那就是对于人的尊重。由于时差的关系,一天晚上,我和几位外籍教师在校内与身在美国的老师共同开线上会议,当会议已经到达结束时间,到了大家该互相道别的时候,我仍然有几句话想说。会议组织者在另一端告诉我,时间已经到了,并直接终止了会议。彼时,“东方速度,西方时间”,这句话再一次在我脑中响起,我耽误了别人的时间确实是有问题的,所以我觉得所有的问题都在我这里,在约定好的时间限制外,又额外延长了会议,肯定是我的不对。第二天,一个昨晚与会的同事找到我,告诉我说她对于昨晚我的遭遇感到很抱歉,会议组织者突然中止会议是很不礼貌的,她希望我现在感觉好些了。就像我前面描述到的我当时的心理活动,我一点也没觉得有问题,因为“东方速度,西方时间”已经成为我的工作常识之一了。紧接着,又一个昨晚参会的同事单独找到我,和我说了同样的事情,接下来是第三位、第四位……我开始觉得事情可能比我想象的要复杂的多。之后,我还收到了一封来自于中断会议的组织者从美国发来的道歉邮件。几天后,我恰巧又和这位组织者同时在线开另外一个会议时,他又再次向我道歉。这些道歉再一次让我陷入到深深的迷惑之中。为什么我们的国际教师们那么珍视自己的时间,可却在我不顾会议时间已经结束,仍然占用他们时间的时候,却都统一反对严守时间的会议组织者,而同情我这个耽误时间的人呢?“东方速度,西方时间”是否还深蕴它意?当然!远在对于个人时间的在乎之上的,是对人的尊重。
最终,我们明白了。学校更像一个花园,而不是一个战场。我们需要的是严谨守时,细致入微的园丁,这样才能让如花草般的学生更健康繁茂地生长。我们在栽培的是文化,这就需要更多的时间来去字斟句酌,而不是迷失在简单的数字增长之中。我要学习的,不是将每一件事都简单应承下来,而是应该学会对一些明显看起来有问题的安排和决策说“不”,并针对此展开讨论,将之变得更合理、更有效。作为管理者,我们应该保持与各部门的畅通交流,这样才能更好地发现潜在的问题,将事情做的更完美。无论是东方的速度问题,还是西方的时间问题,归根结底,都是关乎质量的问题。截至于此,我觉得我可能对于“东方速度,西方时间”有了些许的理解了,在我的同事身上,我能学到的事情还有很多很多,我很高兴我们能彼此学习、共同分享,在这个过程中,找到时间和速度的最佳结合点,让教育的质量变得更好。
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箭头为什么反转了?

发表于 2019 年 07 月 19 号 目录 游戏/Games | 箭头为什么反转了?已关闭评论

绝对不用掉包,绝对不用换材料,绝对没有做手脚,但你就是眼睁睁地看着原本正向的箭头颠倒了方向,这是怎么回事呢?还是让科学告诉你吧!

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一口气大力士

发表于 2019 年 07 月 19 号 目录 传媒/Media, 游戏/Games | 一口气大力士已关闭评论

空气是个大力士,真的吗?当然了!而且,在你拥有了更多的科学知识以后,你就可以更好地驾驭这个大力士了。这一次,我要教你操控口腔中的“一口气大力士”,来控制悬浮的乒乓球,可别小看自己口腔中的这“一口气”,它能做的事,可多着呢。为了让我们口腔中的这个“一口气大力士”更好的工作,我们需要为它营造一个和谐的工作环境。让我们一起动手吧?

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水杯里的火山

发表于 2019 年 07 月 19 号 目录 传媒/Media, 作品/Publish, 游戏/Games | 水杯里的火山已关闭评论

你见过火山爆发吗?也许你的答案和我的一样——在电视里见过。真正的火山在爆发的时候是什么样子的呢?是不是像电视里那样,赤红的岩浆高高地喷出,滚滚的浓烟直冲云霄?正确,但不全面。地球上的很多火山,都位于海面之下,在爆发的时候,炽热的岩浆会迅速在海水中冷却凝固,在浅海区域还可能形成新的岛屿或者大陆的某些部分。我们今天地球表面上的很多陆地和岛屿,就是这样形成的。下面我要告诉你,今天我们要在家里见证这个水下火山爆发的过程,你准备好了吗?

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好课之“好”

发表于 2019 年 07 月 15 号 目录 作品/Publish, 杂谈/Points | 好课之“好”已关闭评论

2007年9月4日上午,北京市西城区西黄城根北街,北京四中的多功能厅里,原本宽敞的大会议室,被几十个人挨挨挤挤地填充到显得局促,众人静静地倾听着会议室中间一位老人娓娓道来。有一句话,让当时在场的我至今仍记忆尤新——“学校代表着国家的未来”。讲话的人是中华人民共和国总理温家宝[1]。

 

2019年5月27日晚上,海南陵水清水湾大道,未来领导力学校的教师公寓中,我一边刷碗一边听手机中播放的央视“面对面”节目。“……因此我认为国家要充分看到这一点,国家的未来就是教育。”这句话让我停下刷碗的手,拿过手机仔细端详,屏幕上接受采访的这位75岁老人,是华为创始人任正非。

 

这两位政界和商界的领袖,对于“教育即未来”有着跨时空的共识。并不奇怪,无论是从经验来看,还是从理论出发,一个国家教育的发展都对本国的经济有着强大的促进作用。美国斯坦福大学胡佛研究所的高级研究员埃里克·哈努谢克(Eric. A Hanushek)和德国慕尼黑大学经济学教授卢德格尔·沃斯曼因(Ludger Woessmann)共同撰写的研究报告《经济发展中由学校革新带来的关键影响》The Role of School Improvement in Economic Development[2]不仅从国家教育实施的“量”上,还从“质”的层面上得出了教育革新对于国家经济发展的具体助益。他们以一个国家教育对于“认知能力培养的效果”作为指征,探索了它的提升对于国家GDP提高的强大推动性。

从上图中我们能看到,一个国家的教育,在保持每年投资(GDP的3.5%)不变的前提下对于“认知能力培养的效果”提升的越明显,这个国家在相应时间段内,GDP的提升也就更具优势。“如何把教育做的更对?如何把教育做的更好?”,在9年义务教育基本普及的中国是更急切的议题。这篇97页的报告不仅描绘了以国家和地区为单位的大教育促进经济发展的图景,还用详实的数据为每一个终生学习者重申了“书中自有黄金屋”这个亘古不变的真理。我们甚至可以对着研究报告的图表大声朗诵亚当斯密在《国富论》中的段落:“对于那些对熟练度和技能要求很高的岗位来说,一个花费大量人力和时间培育出来的人才,就相当于一台昂贵的机器。他所学会执行的工作,必须满足预期价值超出普通劳动力的一般工资,这样工作的价值将平衡他的教育花费,至少保证获得使用等值资本产生的正常利润……”这个来自两百多年前的论述,在如今这个“人工智能”的时代仍显得恰如其分。

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