Say Hi Class

23 10 2010

It was the first day of class and all I could think was how am I going to flip the switch, from student to teacher.

I’m not what you would call a maternal person. Kids freak me out. I’ve never been one to get excited over a baby being cradled into a room: “Oh please, can I hold her?” No. I’m the kind of person that would accidentally call the little bundle of joy an “it” rather than it’s sex. When it comes to children, I’m awkward to say the least. However, as someone who has spent a great deal of time behind a desk, studying, pretending to read text books, I know a thing or two about students. And Korean middle school students are an interesting case study of both what it means to be a student, and Korean.

You remember middle school. It was probably an awkward time for most of you. Guys learned that their voice cracking was actually manhood calling forth hairy changes, and that the girls laughing at them would probably keep laughing until the end of high school. While the girls ditched training bras, and began to understand how beauty plays into a hierarchy that they wouldn’t be able to describe until college. Go Feminism! In middle school we learned how to forage our parents signatures, ditch class, talk back to teachers, conjugate the word fuck into a noun, verb, pronoun; a synonym for anything worth talking about. So rebellious. We were physically changing up and out, buying products to hide the changes that we were all facing: hello acne! Clean and Clear and so NOT under control.

So when I came to Korea I was freaking out over this job. I was sure that like myself, a former student, if these kids saw one shred of terror in my face, one wrinkle over lack of preparation, they would jump all over me, nail me to a wall, and call me a phony. How was I going to flip the switch and over night become a teacher? How was I going to pretend to have patience when they start calling each other names, and throwing paper airplanes at me? Do Korean kids even know how to fold a paper air plane? How do I teach Animal Farm and the Russian Revolution to middle school kids? When the training wheels finally came off, I took one deep breath and just went for it. The students weren’t scary, they were amazing.




2 responses

27 10 2010

“Do Korean kids even know how to fold a paper air plane?”

Yeah dude origami!

27 10 2010

Indeed. And I have learned first hand that they do know how the folds work. Though I think Origami is Chinese or Japanese….not sure.

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