I have fallen victim to an Asian stereotype. I seriously overestimated how much Korean high school students care. I believed that they were somehow harder workers or more focused than American students. I could not have been more wrong. The worst part is that there is absolutely no system for dealing with bad kids. If the teachers care, they don’t show it.
In one of my classes, nine of 42 kids sleeping on their desks in the middle of class. I gave up on waking them up after the third or fourth time I walked around and woke them up. It was absolutely mind-blowing. If that happened at my high school, which was probably average for an American high school, there would have been hell to pay. At the very least, they would have been sent out of the class. Sending kids to the principal’s office is not an option here. You just have to deal with them – and they know it.
I assumed that this was happening because I teach at an alternative school, but apparently that’s not the case. Several of the other EPIK teachers seem to be dealing with the same stuff. One of the Korean teachers told me today that it is difficult to control classrooms in most Korean schools.
The bright side is that the middle school kids are pretty good. They’re still scared of the teacher, and they perk up when I speak loudly. Most of them seem pretty interested in the lesson, too. I have fun with the middle school kids and they tend to participate. It’s like pulling teeth to get the high school kids to respond to anything I ask, but the middle school kids get pretty excited once they start to feel comfortable. I can already tell that the six middle school classes I teach each week will be the bright spots in my schedule.
Until next time.