Monday, March 17, 2008

Screw You, Teacher Woman

At the Poly Conference on the weekend, I admit to not paying a whole lot of attention to the opening speaker. These people are inevitably teachers back home and while I find them interesting if I happen to be in a receptive frame of mind (which has happened, remarkably, in spite of 11 hour days and giving up my Saturday), they seldom say anything of relevance to how I am able to teach in the context of a Korean hagwon.

I did, however, listen well enough to pick up on her insulting us in her speech. She stated that members of her family had taught overseas and so she knew we didn't prep, but she wanted to state that we really must do so to be effective educators.

She is undoubtably right. But wanna know what I did for about 40 minutes of my two hour prep period today? I put some Belle & Sebastian on my iPod and I put my head down on my desk and attempted to nap. I did this because I'm sick - just a cold, but after a morning of kindergarten classes, I was feeling very crappy and my throat and ears were killing me. I just didn't have it in me to do anything beyond my basic, needed prep. I have a ton of marking (I always have a ton of marking) to do, but I didn't have the energy to do it. And so I didn't.

Because the thing that Teacher-Back-Home ignores is that we all teach in a hagwon. I have 10 classes a day. I teach for almost 11 hours, with 40 minutes for lunch and 2 hours to prep. In that time, I also have to do my marking, because frankly, they don't pay me enough to take work home in addition to the kind of hours I'm putting in. I'm getting paid well enough for those hours, sure. But not enough to dedicate any more time to it. In fact, even if they did offer to pay me more to work longer, I couldn't do it. It's already as large of a chunk of my life as I am willing to dedicate to a job.

Also, Teacher-Back-Home gets more than 2 weeks vacation. She gets more than 5 days unpaid sick leave, that everybody but a newbie knows she's only allowed to take if her boss feels like letting her take it. She gets a back-home pension, and better health care, and professional development days that frankly have to be less ridiculous than the conference I just attended, and all kinds of other benefits. After all, this is a country where a teacher just died in a house fire, yet when my friend asked her boss to buy her a fire detector, her boss refused.

What I do is not teaching back home. I don't get why these speakers aren't selected more carefully. Get someone with some ESL background. Maybe even, gasp!, someone with some experience teaching here.

And if you don't? At least tell the speakers not to insult the audience, for maude's sake, as they are in the process of resentfully giving up a Saturday.

Alternatively, starting serving soju along with the lunch.

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