Monday, April 6, 2009

Some Sympathy interesting article from the Chosunilbo about how Koreans "Work longer, suffer more than most in OECD."  Koreans work the longest hours among the 30 countries, spend the most on private education and not surprisingly, seem very unhappy.  And who could blame them?

So, in my classes I try to have a little sympathy.  This really is the only time in their lives that they get to relax and spend time with friends and date and do whatever normal teenagers in other countries do.  Many of them have come from middle school/high school hell, studying until all hours of the night, every night and on weekends too.   It perhaps even started earlier with hagwons in elementary school.  Then, they have these 4 years of break time before starting jobs where the expectation is that they'll basically live at the office.  Anyone who refuses, gets fired or pushed to the side.  And my students are even telling me these days, that it's harder and harder for college grads to get jobs in Korea, so they're forced to take university a lot more seriously and get good grades.  So even the 4 years of freedom is slowly being taken away it seems.  

How this all works out in my classes?  It's pretty easy.  For a minimum of effort in doing homework and coming to class everyday with an okay attitude, the student will at least get a D.  With a minimum of cramming for the test the hour before, they'll probably get a C.  But I save the B's and A's for the students who are either actually good at English before or, who put in a serious effort towards actually learning.  It seems to work out well and most students are pretty happy with the grade they get.  Or, at least no one has complained to the administration about it!   

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