I once had the displeasure of teaching a student from China, whose ego outmatched all others I can recall meeting. It was not, note, that he had anything special to feel special about - but that he found it in himself to so highly rate his own thoughts and worth, that no-one else's bore consideration.
He had some contributing factors to his egotism: he was the only child of a rich Chinese family and had lived a spoiled life. Yet, I felt, that did not excuse the irksome behaviour he manifested.
Teaching him was an irritating experience. If, for instance, I had marked his essay and corrected it (which usually meant about three to four corrections per line of text because, like I said, his ego was not matched by any commensurate talent) and had gone on to work with another student, he would shout across the room, soon enough: "HEY, TEACHER!". He would then ask me a question about what I had written on his essay.
I would lift up my head and say: "I am busy right now."
He would look put out that I had dared not come running the moment he demanded it and would look at me stiffly.
He would let me finish with the student I was working with - but then, when I had moved onto another, he would shout again: "Hey, what about this? What does THIS mean?"
This process would go on and would not stop, until I dropped what I was doing, with another student, and came over to attend to his question. It was always something silly - something apparent and obvious if he had just paused to think about it, rather than just demand that his teacher come running.
Then there was another habit of his. If I had corrected something of his, that was wrong, he would quite often argue with me over it. He would try to force me to back down from my view that his understanding of grammar was incorrect and that mine was right. To understand quite how galling this was, you should recognize that he was from the People's Republic of China, and spoke English as a second language and that not well. I, however, am a native speaker of English and it is my first language - and I work with the language professionally. His ego was so inflated that he thought that he understood his second language (one which he was still yet learning) better than I understood my first.
The arguments over language points would go on until I insisted strongly enough that he was wrong and had explained carefully why...then he would fall silent in a resentful sort of way.
Finally, there was another ploy which he would get up to. When he was writing his essays, he would sometimes insert what he thought were mistakes, to see if I picked up on them. I remember one time in particular when he said: "Ah HAH! You didn't see that one! That's wrong!", of his own work.
I looked at it for a moment and then said, quietly, realizing that he had tried to make a deliberate error - and failed: "No, actually, it is right. You can say it that way."
That flummoxed him. He had been accidentally right - having intended to be wrong as a test of my competence. It was bizarre.
I can say, without any doubt at all, that this particular mainland Chinese student was the most annoying student I have ever taught.
(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to:http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.
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