Thursday, September 9, 2010

The position in which I find myself

Sometimes teaching here can be just heartbreaking. I imagine it's the same all over, but it's still difficult for me to hear what I sometimes hear from these students, coming from where I came from.

Whether they're just honest, young, or aren't aware they're saying anything that most people would consider private (or if they're just Korean), I have no idea.

In another teacher's class, students responded to a prompt asking them to write about an invention they would like to make. One student said in broken English, and I paraphrase, "I would create an un-losable card, because I always make cards for my mother to make her happy, and she always loses them."

When asked to describe something embarrassing that has happened to them, one student responded, "I am embarrassed when my father hits me."

When giving a speaking test, one on one to one of my higher level students, I asked him the question from the sheet, "Describe the character of your best friend" to which he replied, "I don't have any friends." I probed, "Of course you have friends." He replied, "No teacher, I don't have any friends." I said again "Sure you do, in class." And he said, tears just beginning to form, "No teacher, I don't have any friends." I wrote down his response and continued the test.

In one of my classes, two boys joined who hate a third boy who was in the class already. They gang up on him and make fun, they isolate him on the other side of the room by refusing to sit near him, and the poor kid won't even break the "no speaking Korean" rule to defend himself.

Today I caught one of the two shit-boys pushing the third boy. I stopped both of them and sat them down and handled the situation. The shit-boy had tears rolling down his cheek. Not 2 minutes later, the second of the shit-boys (thinking that I've left, but I was just outside a door with a huge glass window in it) starts screaming at the third boy, the third boy -who has already had it so rough already and hasn't learned how to defend himself or take it in stride - picks up his text book and is about to hit the second shit-boy when I busted in and screamed at the whole group of them. The third boy burst out sobbing and covered his face while I continued my tirade, in extremely slow but carefully chosen so they could understand, angry English.

I told all three of them to speak with me after their next class (their teacher was waiting to begin). After class, I sat them all down and talked with them about how to properly handle their frustration and anger, and made them practice a phrase, "Please don't do that." I told them that if I heard them use that phrase, and the other person did not stop, the other person would have the fear of God hammered so forcibly into them that their next stop after SLP would be church to beg for absolution. In so many words.

What I hope is that by getting all three of them in trouble, together, I can give them a common ground on which to stand. And hopefully, at the very least, stop the constant abuse of the third boy.

It isn't my place to defend every poor little kid who needs help and would be better served learning to help himself, but its so god damned sad what happens out in the world sometimes.