[LEARNING CURVE]Anything is possible in Korean classroom

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[LEARNING CURVE]Anything is possible in Korean classroom

Becoming an English teacher in Asia is strikingly similar to participating in a boxing match with a bare-knuckled opponent. You’ll live, but will suffer quite a beating in the process. Every teacher has horror stories, bruises, scrapes and breakdowns and here, for your own entertainment, is my personal top five:
During an interview for a kindergarten position, with maybe a little too much zeal, and in an attempt to impress a future employer, I decided playing with the children was in order.
As the jostling began, play fighting ensued, and so did the throwing of students, in a playful manner of course. One child kept shouting higher and higher, and I granted his wish. Unfortunately, with his head acting as a battering ram, he put a child-sized hole in the drop ceiling, laughing all the way. Incredibly, the job was offered, and I quickly took it.
Another instance took place when trying to control a class, quite ineffectively, and teach them the alphabet. Two students saw it as an opportunity to explore sex education. I discovered them at the back of the classroom, pants at their knees, looking over each other curiously. There was nothing sexual about it, but I looked at them with sheer terror and an open mouth; there seemed nothing fitting to say at the time.
Closely tied to the previous mishap was that of a young boy deeply engrossed in exploring his own body. He was sitting eye level in an auditorium-style classroom and was completely unaware of the roaming eyes that fell on him. He stopped after some time, which left any confrontation with me thankfully out of the picture.
Now to diverge from the sexual, here are two examples of some violent behavior, which is luckily not the norm. The first occurred when a child decided to bring a knife to school and threaten a classmate. I found him at the back of class, his hand around the child’s throat and the knife to his cheek. After jostling for a few minutes, I was able to take the knife away and he was quickly expelled.
Another example occurred at a high school with older children well equipped with attitude. One student, unfaltering in his attempts to aggravate the teacher, saw fit not to do his work. This was met with obvious annoyance and a quick trip to the headmaster’s office. Although complacent at first, he suddenly decided that he didn’t want to be punished and instead chose to assault me. He backhanded me twice, connecting once, before the regular teaching staff at the school subdued him.
Although these stories seem implausible, they are entirely factual. There is no silver lining, no lessons learned, only the hope that since these instances were a happy greeting to teaching in Asia they are either finished with completely, or the worst is over. Although both seem doubtful, I have to remain hopeful.


by Daniel Curley
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