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Author Topic: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits  (Read 10553 times)

Offline nomadicmadda

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2015, 03:33:15 PM »
Id give my left arm to teach high school again with EPIK haha

I'm actually with JLP, not EPIK!  I know JLP still has quite a few high school positions scattered throughout the province.
My students on the other hand I have never SEEN them study and I don't know how they do it other than memorizing, especially when it comes to English. When I did teach high school my co-teacher would give them 50 words to memorize and if they didnt do it by the next day, every wrong answer meant a whack in the back of the legs with a white PVC pipe that they nicknamed "Snow White"...

Uuuuuuugh, I hate the vocabulary lists.  When I first came here, my CT showed me the ones she had to teach her kids, and I went through and marked all the ones that were never/rarely used in common English.  Halved the list every time, and that's with me being generous and trying not to mark more.  They're required to teach their kids 100 words a week.  A HUNDRED WORDS.  Words that I guarantee they're never tested on or see again until, maybe, the 수능 or some shit.  Absurd.

I teach from elementary to middle school levels and I think there is some sort of huge gap in between elementary and middle school.

The elementary school stuff is quite easy, and mostly at their level (although of course the text books are of very low quality with many errors) but then in middle school the text books seem to jump about 3 years ahead of their ability. Also the middle school text book my school uses was obviously written by people on drugs. The chapters are so disjointed, and even the title of the chapter often has nothing to do with the content of the chapter.

The middle to high school text books seem to do the same. Sort of skip ahead a few years, and teach material that is simply not useful in communicating.

My high school 1st years' textbook, by chapter:

  • Hard Goals, Smart Success with phrases like "What should I do?"; "I'm planning to..."; "I have ______ed"; someone "suggested that I ______"; and "It's easy to be tempted by..."
  • A New Way of Looking at Comics with phrases like "Let me check _____"; "I dare say, ______" (lmfao)' "seeing something as something"; "_____ being used ____"; and "as __ as
  • No Words Needed* with phrases like "I'm curious about ______"; "In ______ you should not ______"; "What amazed me was..."; "Terribly fatigued" (lol again); and "It was not until ______ that..."
    *Apparently this is about traveling/cultures
  • Weird Inventions with phrases like "Can you show me...?"; "I'm not satisfied with..." (this textbook); "The more ______, the cooler _____" (what??); "...so fast that..."; and "...is said to ..."

And so on and so forth.  The last 4 chapters are called Beyond Your Dreams (hope to/have no idea), The Noblesse Oblige: The Story Behind The Burghers of Calais (what?!), Beauty & Drama in Ancient Works of Art (do you mind/ and "You can say that again!" haha), and A Sound Decision for the Environment...why is there always a weird environmental one with bizarre problems and language, like "we ought to"??

Like why are my C level students, who can barely say hello to me, learning this shit???  The textbook itself is discouraging to them because the content is so far beyond their grasp.  It's certainly not their fault, but this system makes them feel like they're to blame.  Bullshit.

Offline macteacher

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2015, 03:49:34 PM »
I teach from elementary to middle school levels and I think there is some sort of huge gap in between elementary and middle school.

The elementary school stuff is quite easy, and mostly at their level (although of course the text books are of very low quality with many errors) but then in middle school the text books seem to jump about 3 years ahead of their ability. Also the middle school text book my school uses was obviously written by people on drugs. The chapters are so disjointed, and even the title of the chapter often has nothing to do with the content of the chapter.

The middle to high school text books seem to do the same. Sort of skip ahead a few years, and teach material that is simply not useful in communicating.

I bet a lot of teen angst comes from this. There are little to no expectations put on the elementary school kids in my experience. Most kids get 100s, if they do badly they just get passed along. No detentions, etc. There really isn't even any civil expectations of them (being a good human being). But then they get to middle school and high school and all of a sudden many expectations are put on them. All of a sudden their english reading level ought to be high level USA 12th graders, etc. It's so pointless.

Of course I see kids with the opposite problems with their moms expecting them to be mastering calculus in the 4th-5th grades.

Offline nomadicmadda

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2015, 08:04:04 AM »
I teach from elementary to middle school levels and I think there is some sort of huge gap in between elementary and middle school.

The elementary school stuff is quite easy, and mostly at their level (although of course the text books are of very low quality with many errors) but then in middle school the text books seem to jump about 3 years ahead of their ability. Also the middle school text book my school uses was obviously written by people on drugs. The chapters are so disjointed, and even the title of the chapter often has nothing to do with the content of the chapter.

The middle to high school text books seem to do the same. Sort of skip ahead a few years, and teach material that is simply not useful in communicating.

I bet a lot of teen angst comes from this. There are little to no expectations put on the elementary school kids in my experience. Most kids get 100s, if they do badly they just get passed along. No detentions, etc. There really isn't even any civil expectations of them (being a good human being). But then they get to middle school and high school and all of a sudden many expectations are put on them. All of a sudden their english reading level ought to be high level USA 12th graders, etc. It's so pointless.

Of course I see kids with the opposite problems with their moms expecting them to be mastering calculus in the 4th-5th grades.

Yup.  Welcome to my vocational high school, and my "C" level students at my main school.  The teacher's see them as insolent, disrespectful, and lazy when they're really 100% a product of the curriculum and teachers' attitudes.

I've been teaching at the vocational high school since I first came to Korea in August of 2014.  I originally had a teachers class (ha, didn't we all) and one of our first discussions was this TedTalk about creativity in modern schools around the world.  I'd been hoping to talk about what the Korean teachers thought about music and the arts being a part of the curriculum, but instead they went off on this tangent about how their kids have no 정, have no spark or creativity anyway, and it isn't even worth trying.

How awful is that?  Like ffs, the kids are still just kids.  They need you, as a teacher, to support them and stand behind them and build their confidence.  Yet here these teachers were, being the loudest voices telling the students they'd never amount to anything.  Kids, especially here in Korea, are hard enough on themselves and each other.  They don't need adults doing that too.

I felt like I could relate to my students a bit, because I often was the insolent, defiant student in high school.  So, I geared my lessons toward what I thought would be interesting to me when I was their age.  Essentially, I had to give them a reason for learning English, not just tell them they had to do it 'because teachers say so'.  There was a difference in their attitudes and respect for me that was notable enough that, despite losing funding for me in March, the school continued to pay for me to come out of pocket.  Then when my entire position lost funding this part August, they harassed my new school (in the same area) about my schedule and letting me come again  :laugh:

I don't think it's really that I'm some amazing teacher, but more that I can actually connect to and relate to the kids, which is very un-Korean and not common in the academic world here.  Especially with kids like these, they need that in order to be successful.  They already come from homes where they've had to work from a young age, parents are often divorced, and no one has ever thought they would amount to much.  As a teacher, the least we can do is be there to fill that hole and support them.

Anyway, sorry for the ramble.  I agree with what you've observed and I feel like I often get really angry at the system and treat of my students in their defense, because at the end of the day, it's always the kids who're getting shafted. :sad:

Offline JLCutler

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2015, 08:12:58 AM »
Right there with you, nomadicmadda, except my vocational high school is an arts school. A very conservative arts school. The kids' creativity is encouraged (proven by the art they produce) but normal classes are normal classes and there's a reason so many of them don't even try when it comes to English and the teachers panicked this year because the situation had reached such a low point that the government was about to investigate on the grounds of incompetence.

I've taken many of the same approaches you have because I don't see any other way to do it--thus I have much better relationships with students than I do with any of the teachers at this school.

Offline nomadicmadda

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2015, 09:42:51 AM »
Right there with you, nomadicmadda, except my vocational high school is an arts school. A very conservative arts school. The kids' creativity is encouraged (proven by the art they produce) but normal classes are normal classes and there's a reason so many of them don't even try when it comes to English and the teachers panicked this year because the situation had reached such a low point that the government was about to investigate on the grounds of incompetence.

I've taken many of the same approaches you have because I don't see any other way to do it--thus I have much better relationships with students than I do with any of the teachers at this school.

Yeah, my kids are studying tea farming (woohoo Boseong!) and mechanics.  My CT I was with when I first started was like, "OMG THEY LISTEN TO YOU, HOW?!?!" And I kind of felt like saying, "Uhhh, stop being a power-tripping dick?"  Like do you have no other coping mechanism for managing a classroom other than trying to dominate some sort of power struggle with teens?? :rolleyes:

I have two rules in my classroom:
1. Don't talk when I'm talking.  I let minor chatter go (pick your battles) but if students are blatantly carrying on a conversation, I'll wait and the entire class ends up looking at them.  I'm always happy and smiling in class, so if I say, "Are you finished?" or, "Stop.  Now.  You're being rude." in a lower, flat voice, they immediately get the point.  They know that I really like them and when they can see they've clearly offended me, that's way more effective than trying to yell over them or force them to stop.

2. No cell phones. If I see it, I take it away and it sits on the end of my desk/podium.  If kids are playing a game or having a conversation, I'll give them a few moments to save/quit properly.  I've never forcefully taken a student's property.  After class, they don't have to apologize or get a lecture from me (or even say anything to me!), they can just come and take it.  Because the point isn't to use it to power-trip or assert dominance over them, but simply show that the behavior is rude.  I've only ever had students refuse twice, and in one instance because I asked nicely and took a minute to explain why it was rude, the girl ended up giving it to me.  In the other, the boy tried to be dramatic and walked out of class.  Fine by me.  The other teachers here use CP, and if he'd rather choose that by the teacher's patrolling the hallways for class skippers over setting his phone aside for 20min, that's his choice.

Offline JLCutler

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2015, 10:12:06 AM »
Teachers already take students' phones from them at the beginning of the day, so my two rules are:

1.) Speak English
2.) Be Polite

Neither are followed completely, of course, but both are accomplished as well. Arts kids are pretty chill that way.

As for the power trip stuff...I would fight that, too. I fight it as an adult.

Offline nomadicmadda

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #26 on: November 27, 2015, 01:20:11 PM »
Teachers already take students' phones from them at the beginning of the day, so my two rules are:

1.) Speak English
2.) Be Polite

Neither are followed completely, of course, but both are accomplished as well. Arts kids are pretty chill that way.

As for the power trip stuff...I would fight that, too. I fight it as an adult.

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: Same!

I probably gave my teacher's such headaches as a student, haha.  Unfortunately it seems like Korea's only way of doling out discipline is through CP or threats; there's very little explanation or conflict resolution...  :sad:

Offline Tinsley

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #27 on: November 27, 2015, 02:31:58 PM »
I'd been hoping to talk about what the Korean teachers thought about music and the arts being a part of the curriculum, but instead they went off on this tangent about how their kids have no 정, have no spark or creativity anyway, and it isn't even worth trying.

This is such a self-fulfilling prophesy, I hate it! The first time I planned a creative task with my middle school students, my CT took one look at it and said, "Oh, that's hard. Korean students aren't creative."

I didn't listen because I knew it was BS. Creativity is like a muscle. Give them a chance to work it out! Lo and behold, I ask my students to do creative things all the time now and they still surprise me with the things they come up with.

Online robobob9000

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Re: Korean Culture: "Study" Habits
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2015, 10:41:06 AM »
My students also pretty much only take notes when I tell them to, although I've seen some higher level students with notes in their books from things that we talked about in class. I think one of my co-teachers is pushing the concept.

Also, I don't know if this counts, but they seriously mark up the reading sections of the book with what appear to be notes and explanations from class (I don't teach that section, so I can't be sure).
Yeah there's definitely a cultural tendency that favors passive study habits (reading/listening) over active study habits (writing/speaking).

There's a Korean/Chinese idiom that goes 독서백편의자현, which roughly translates to "if you read a book 100 times then you will understand its meaning". There aren't any parallel idioms for active learning skills.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. I don't think there's a single optimal way to study something.

Personally I always hated handwriting notes during lectures because I am a visual learner. For me, auditory explanations of complex topics cost a lot of mental energy. Handwriting about those complex topics during the lecture cost even more mental energy. If I forced myself to multitask then I would suck at both tasks.

Instead, I learned that my optimal study pattern was:

1. Read the learning material in advance.
2. Listen to the lecture in order to figure out which concepts I understood, and which I needed to work on.
3. Write about the material in order to work out my thoughts on the most difficult concepts.
4. Talk about the material that I'm still not comfortable with. Either with fellow students or teachers.

But that is just what works for me. Not everybody is going to be the same way. I think that if I forced my students into active study habits, then the students who are naturally inclined towards active study habits would definitely benefit, because chances are they haven't experienced them in their Korean-taught classes. But it would be to the detriment of the students who would prefer to use the passive study habits that they've cultivated over their entire academic career. That's why I think it's better to provide students with choices, instead of me trying to evangelize active studying habits.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2015, 10:43:04 AM by robobob9000 »