New America Media, Commentary, Andrew Lam, Posted: Dec 18, 2012
Long ago in my native homeland, Vietnam, I used to bow. As a grade school student, with arms folded, and eyes staring at my sandaled feet, I would mumble, “Thua thay!” – Greetings Teacher! – whenever I’d run into a teacher in the hallway or enter a classroom.
Such was the Old World tradition that honored and paid respect to the teaching profession.
That habit quickly disappeared, however, when I joined 7th grade in America. My way was entirely out of sync with U.S. culture. American kids were rowdy, wore colorful clothes and sometimes even swore at their teachers. And teaching was not mere instruction in America, I found. It was part babysitting, dealing with the unruliness that was the result of a society that increasingly emphasized self-esteem and individualism over achievement itself.
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