Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I'm bored

Yes, my classes now bore me.

I cannot engage more than 10% of my students because I don't give them a mark at the end of the year, and without a mark on their report card they couldn't care less about my class.

Korean students don't listen attentively like Canadian ones tend to do. Probably because they usually wind up spending 18 hours at school -- You gotta turn off sometimes so that you'll be on when you need to be.

Okay, you are no doubt saying, so how is this different from any High School anywhere, after all High School students often don't care much about anything, even if they DO have their report card marks on the line?

Well, I have 37 students in each class and do NOT have a means of communicating with them (i.e. no translator present for translation, classroom managment) and my students having already discovered that my class has absolutely no consequences (I cannot punish them like the other teachers, cannot keep them after class either) -- THEY TALK LIKE A BUNCH OF SCREAMING BANSHEES LIKE IT'S GOING OUT OF STYLE.

So, how can a teacher compete with that? I spend a great deal of time with my arms raised saying: "Quiet Please", "Boys, Quiet!", "UmmmHmmm, excuse me!". My arms are getting tired! So, instead of developing my arm muscles I just follow the procedure I've seen so often in the classrooms from my hallway jaunts: Just keep on talking, it doesn't matter if nobody is listening.

Last week I also tried a different technique. I tried worksheets. I was thinking that perhaps the students need some focii for their attention, a point of focus to which they are more accustomed. But, I just cannot get over the insanity! Nearly half of the students in my classes don't have a pen or pencil. Of those students that don't have a pen or pencil in the classroom half of these don't actually have a pen or pencil in the entire school -- forget their lockers, that's where they keep their cellphones and toothbrushes -- they don't have anyway to write, and they spend more than 12 hours a day at school!

For the moment I'm just going to give up on the idea of making a difference. I spent hours trying to devise the perfect worksheet to both be at their level (sub-literate, pre-kindergarten) and engage their interests. Only about 2% of my students actually put more than a moments thought into the worksheet -- so I'm not going to waste any more time -- not for now at least.

When I get bored I start to read. I found Albert Camus' The Stranger on today, I read it once already -- maybe twice? My copy or copies purchased in Canada years ago are getting moldy in a box or on a shelf somewhere in Canada and so now I'm enjoying it once again electronically.

FYI: You'll need a bittorent client, like uTorrent, installed to follow the Albert Camus link above. It's a link to a torrent that will give you about fifty classic books. Here's the bare link in case you have trouble with shortcuts in your browser (I had some problems with an earlier version of firefox):

If I'm a pirate for downloading this book then piracy seems reasonable to me . . . I bought the book at least twice but I never took the time to digitize my copies. Along comes a friend that posts a digital version. I download my friends version instead of laboriously scanning one of my own two copies.

Also, my boredom has led to the increased frequency of posting here not to mention a slightly more serious bent (besides the Queen of Jordan post I made recently). I posted a phonics worksheet for educating adult Koreans in the key areas that most Koreans find troublesome. And I'll probably put more serious shit up here too -- so you better watch out!

By the way, looks like is being attached again. Don't worry, it sounds like they have themselves covered pretty well, after the last time they got busted.

Gottfried Svartholm Warg, one of four founders of The Pirate Bay, said Monday that "record companies can go screw themselves" in response to a music-industry demand for $2.5 million in damages.

Read more on Wired.

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