Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Canadian High School=Korean University?

I was eating dinner with a couple of my coworkers tonight and we got on the topic of conversation about how our middle + high school experiences (Can/USA) are very, very similar to the Korean University experience. This is true for the following reasons:

1. Discipline in the classroom is exactly the same. You need to spell out to freshman students that they should bring their books/pencil/notebook everyday to class. And you actually have to kick out students once in a while for being disruptive and trying to have a power showdown with the foreign teacher.

2. For most of them, it's their first opportunity for interaction with the opposite sex since they've been in segregated schools since elementary school. And they're just as shy and nervous and annoying as I was in middle school, girls not wanting to talk to or sit beside boys and such.

3. Almost no one has ever had a part-time job since they've been studying for 20 hours a day, everyday for the past 6 years, so this is their first opportunity for that. Which leads me to my next point....

4. This is their first time not studying so much and so they can experiment with smoking/drinking/staying out late. Most people back home would do this much earlier, but not here.

5. They are still scared of their parents. For example: a student who doesn't study or do homework all semester will come to me at the end of the semester, after I've given them an "F" and beg for an "A" because their father will be really angry and hit them.

And the list could go on! I'm sure you can add a few more for me in the comments section :)

Anyway, once I realized this fact, my life, teaching in a Korean university became much easier. Like I really can't give my students a lot of freedom, because they can't really handle it. And I actually need to kick out students for not bringing books or lock the door after 10 minutes. And I need to give them stamps for motivation that translate into grades because they won't willingly learn English just for the sake of learning.

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