Friday, 30 September 2011

Being a GET in a KET Environment

Yangyang sits at the bottom of Seoraksan National Park on the east coast of my province. This week many of the public school teachers in my province had to go to YangYang to attend a teaching workshop. The focus of this workshop was effective co-teaching. It was a waste of time. The opening ceremony was long and tiresome and was introduced by a woman with zero enthusiasm, it started with a promotional video about the history of the language institute that this workshop was taking place in. It was introduced by a man who sounded like he was the voice over for an epic Hollywood action flick, with dramatic music to accompany him. It was embarrassing. What followed was a lecture by someone who’s name I forget, much like what he said. He had a phd, in what I do not know, I don’t even know how he got it. He stood at the front of the auditorium making infuriating generalisations about world economics and team teaching. This went on for about seventy minutes until we had a break. Snickers bars were supplied. Maybe this wasn’t all bad.

The second period began and opened with a team teaching demonstration. I suppose they wanted us to see how we should be co-teaching. If that is how we should be co-teaching then I feel very sorry for these Korean kids. They made it clear at the beginning of their demonstration that they would be treating the audience as an elementary class and asked us to go with it, fair enough. This never happened; they described everything they were doing, stepping out of the ‘teacher character’ every five seconds, it was boring, predictable and pointless. I've been a teacher for a month and could have put together a better class. Why are they pouring so much money into this event?

How well do you know your co-teacher was the next presentation. The answer, not very well. Obviously. I've only known her for a month. Some of the questions that were asked I wouldn’t know about my best friend, or my mother, or anyone I’ve ever met. What shoe size is your co-teacher? What!? How is this improving my relationship with my co-teacher? Oh, it’s not? Oh, this whole thing is just a waste of time and money? Oh, now I get it.

So enough ranting, you get the idea. Dinner was good though, lots of seafood, sea snails and sea everything really. It was delicious. That evening we went to the beach with a bunch of teachers, some whom I knew, some whom I didn't. It was a fun night although we got kicked off of the beach by the Korean army. Apparently, North Koreans like to land submarines there sometimes, so there are watch towers everywhere. Mental. We ended up having some drinks in a park which overlooked the beach and the town of Sockcho.

The next day was equally as tiresome and even more degrading. I think just from being here most teachers in that room knew everything they were getting told. Most of them were probably better teachers than all of the organizers put together, and the problems that lie deep within the Korean education system will not get addressed at an event like this. They are deep rooted problems, and I won’t go into detail here, but English education here needs to be changed if they ever want these students to achieve a level of fluency and efficiency. For now we trudge on, try and make lesson plans that the kids will enjoy, try and teach them what we can, try and make a mark on them. That’s what everyone’s doing though, right? In one way or another.

Apologies for the ranty blog.

Over and out.

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