Sunday, January 15, 2012

A while back, I posted an entry called, "Ten Tips for Newbies to the Korean University Teaching Experience."

#2 on that list was:

"University is a party-time for Korean students, between Sooneung Hell and selling their souls to Samsung or Hyundai or Kia.  Adjust your classes accordingly.  If you make them too hard with too much homework, the students will be unhappy.  Give a little bit or homework and a few tests so you can have some self-respect but don't stress too much about making it like a university class is "back home."

And this was a reader comment:

"#2 is insightful, but why do you feel you have to worry about making your students happy? I agree, it might make you a more popular teacher, but is it the best way to teach?"

And my response:

No, of course it's not the best way to teach!  That much is obvious.  And actually, it kinds of wears on my soul, in a disturbing, maybe I need to leave Korea kind of way.  But the reality at my uni (but not all unis in Korea) is that student evaluations are huge.  Like the top three foreign teachers get special recognition each semester and the one or two that come out on the bottom seem to get fired.  And those in the middle stress out if they're below average, worrying that they'll be on the bottom in the near future.  At my uni, it seems to be almost exclusively what contract renewals are based on.  When this is the reality, keeping students happy is the first priority, and actual education kind of falls by the wayside at times.  Anyone who is on a yearly contract and works as a uni where student evaluations are closely scrutinized would just be naive to think they don't have to worry about keeping students happy.

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