This is a de-duction

At the second university, they decided whether or not to renew a foreign teacher’s contract by observing a class twice, or for Jarrett’s class, three times. They had two lists of what they’d seen and what the class monitor had told them. They called the good stuff Yes Points, the bad stuff No Points. First time Jarrett had heard the name was in Orientation, where they gathered all the Chinese and foreign teachers in a conference room and made them watch a Powerpoint on the dos and donts of teaching English in China. This was one of the few times all the foreign teachers would be together, just as it was the only time every Chinese and foreign teacher would be together.

Jarrett’s Yes Points were as follows: nice, not late, friendly.

Jarrett’s No Points were as follows: late, strict, and once he’d given a hard assignment.

He asked about that last one. The woman in charge of giving foreign teachers their evaluations, an auntie who covered her smiles with her hand, said, According to the monitor, you make the students write some words.

Yeah, I assigned them an essay.

She looked at him.

That is, I had them write about either their high school, their families, or –

It is not a writing class, she said, shaking.

It’s an English class.

It is oral English.

Yeah, but these students are all going to study abroad, right?

She looked at him like she didn’t know what he was talking about, despite at the beginning of the semester having told him that this was a special class, for students who were going to the Czech Republic to finish their degrees. They talked up how important this class was, how these students had been specially selected to do this.

Now . . .

Never mind, he said. Is that all?

This is a . . . She sought the word. So did Jarrett, and the word she found surprised him: De-duction. This is a de-duction. Is this okay?

Is it okay?

This is a de-duction.

Now it was Jarrett who sought his words, trying on different ones and settling for: Yeah. Sure. That’s fine.

Okay, she said. This is a de-duction.

She took a red pen and made a mark on a paper. Okay, she said. Now we must discuss why you are late.