Education: My own personal demons and Korea’s

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The time after winter break (the start of February) until the start of March and the new school year is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever experienced. Especially for the 6th graders who know that they have finished their finals (IN DECEMBER) and nothing they do will effect them getting into middle school or not. I only had 2 classes of 6th graders today. In the first class, only half of the students brought their books and in the second class only 3 or 4 students had books. How the hell are we supposed to follow the lesson plan, finish the book for the year as planned/requested if the students don’t deign to bring books or pencils? They were rambunctious and couldn’t care less about being there. In the afternoon there is a field trip to visit the local middle schools for some sort of orientation (I think, as usual there is a fair amount lost in translation) so everyone was beyond hyper.  Mrs.

The time after winter break (the start of February) until the start of March and the new school year is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever experienced. Especially for the 6th graders who know that they have finished their finals (IN DECEMBER) and nothing they do will effect them getting into middle school or not. I only had 2 classes of 6th graders today. In the first class, only half of the students brought their books and in the second class only 3 or 4 students had books. How the hell are we supposed to follow the lesson plan, finish the book for the year as planned/requested if the students don’t deign to bring books or pencils? They were rambunctious and couldn’t care less about being there. In the afternoon there is a field trip to visit the local middle schools for some sort of orientation (I think, as usual there is a fair amount lost in translation) so everyone was beyond hyper.  Mrs. K eventually gave up on at least trying to get through the listening/speaking activities and suggested I start a game. I got the class under control by asking them if they would rather write or play a game (the 6th graders almost universally hate writing in English, I shouldn’t use it as a punishment but at this point it’s almost a lost cause). They stayed calm for about 2 minutes. One more warning and I gave up. I had them all sit down, passed out paper and pencils and had them copy sentences from the board. Boring as hell for both of us. Tomorrow I may or may not have classes since there is a rehearsal (but we aren’t sure) for the big exhibition next which I know nothing about other than it’s on Wednesday or Thursday at 6 or 7 and I should probably show up.  This ambiguity has nothing to do with my co-teacher’s English and everything to do with how business is run in Korea, that is to say last minute. I am trying to go with the flow. After all, it isn’t really a travesty if my classes are canceled last minute.

On another educational rant, though a slightly different topic, the infamous Kang Shin-who wrote the concluding piece in his illegal tutoring series. The conclusion? Exactly what I said a few days ago, that illegal tutoring is in too much demand and far too hard to regulate for the government to have a chance in hell at eradicating it. They might as well make some money off of the more honest folks. Kang, are you reading my blog? :-p Just kidding. The article was anticlimatic and not up to his usual inflammatory level. However, he did through in evidence of his usual standard of journalistic integrity by using this “fact” instead of trying to cite any actual statistics (or god forbid, conducting his OWN data poll or survey).

“According to some parents and students in Gangnam, southern Seoul, many foreigners there earn 50,000 to 70,000 won per hour for private English tutoring sessions.”

Seriously buddy? You can get away with that sort of stuff in the informal blogosphere but you write for the Korean Times, a newspaper that proclaims it wants to act “[a]s the mirror of the times, The Korea Times will become the eyes, the ears and the window to a whole new world.” 

I realize this is an overly negative blog post. I should probably refrain from blogging when I’ve only had about 2 hours of sleep. Stupid insomnia. 



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