Brazilian Challenge Day 153: Cabular

Teaching my graduate Marketing Strategy class (see Day 81: I Got A Job!) has been fabulous, at least for me. I’m hoping it the others in the room are actually learning something. The students are all great people, however, there are only 8 of them. (I only started out with ten. Lost one before we even began and the other due to English skills.)

There have been a couple of cultural issues that have surfaced during this experience. First, a few of the students would just start up a side conversation during class either when I or another student was speaking. Of course, I would put a quick end to it, but I couldn’t imagine doing this during a class, especially in such a small crowd. If I had dared during one of my MBA courses, the professor would have just kicked me right out of the room. I mentioned this to the group. They straight out told me that it was cultural and that’s how they roll. Of course, we all agreed that’s not how we were going to roll on my time.

One thing they do NOT do (much) is sit on their blackberries during the class. Which I really appreciate. I can’t even count how many meetings in the U.S. during which I’ve sat next to someone who spent the entire time emailing while someone else was giving a presentation or discussing an issue. RUDE AMERICANS.

Second, there have been times when people just don’t show up for class. While a couple have preceded this with an explanatory email, others don’t. One guy didn’t come the first two weeks (I hold one 3 hour class per week) without explanation, or a return email when I contacted him to find out if he was ever going to show. Again, I would never have considered being a “no show” for a three hour class, especially if it would be so obvious I was missing due to class size, without advanced notice and excuses. In their defense, this is an executive program and these people have full-time jobs. I can definitely understand getting caught up in work. But considering 25% of their grade is class participation, for a situation like that I’ll let them make up the time with an extra assignment if they let me know.

This kind of behavior is referred to as “cabular aula.” On Day 153 of my challenge to be more Brazilian, I pulled a “cabular aula” myself.

My class is scheduled for Wednesdays, but due to a metro strike (see Day 144: Metro Strike) there was a traffic situation bad enough to cancel the class. So it was rescheduled for this past Friday night. We were leaving for Rio that night, and I assumed that no one was going to want to be kicking off their weekend in a classroom, so I had planned an early end. I had already lost two by the previous Wednesday class. The evening of the class, about midway through, I strategically gave them class time to work on their final project. Two left shortly after. But the remaining four decided to use the time appropriately and bust a move together on their presentation and marketing plan, due on Wednesday. Aye, aye, aye. By 9:30pm I abandoned them, 30 minutes early.

Not so professional but quite a bit Brazilian.

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7 Responses to Brazilian Challenge Day 153: Cabular

  1. Ray says:

    Dear B.A.B,

    I don’t think it’s cultural, if so, maybe to the specific school you are teaching at. See, I studied at PUC Sao Paulo between 1990 and 1998, including Law and an MBA, and 2 people chatting during any class while a teacher was speaking to the class or someone else was unthinkable, and not tolerated at all.
    And I do not tolerate people checking their blackberries during meetings, if I am running the meeting, I put an end to it right away, which does happen here all.the.time…, and it drives me bananas…


  2. Adults do it here all_the_time….but so do they in the US in a similar situation. However, I heard a student tell off the talkers last week….so it’s not tolerated like your students are trying to tell you!

    It’s a delicate situation for me as a languauge teacher- I have to provide an environment conducive to learning, but also it needs to feel ‘fun’since it is a language class. Adults really need to police each other on this.

    The cell phone thing was a HUGE problem in grad school. I’m guilty of it, too, in boring classes 😦 but we did feel comfortable enough to monitor each other.

  3. Meredith says:

    I think it’s cultural. A friend/expat co-worker pointed this out to me my first day of work. She said, watch how people talk while the director of the school is…and she was right. So rude. Imagine how my students are in class. I have to put a stop to that, too.

  4. Corinne says:

    my students do the same thing and it is the only thing I crack down on. My students also waltz in late, get up in the middle of the class to get a coffee and come back in in the middle. I choose my battles and talking while I am lecturing is a no-no for me.

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