Posts Tagged open class
Since the new school year started in March, I’ve had lots of new roles and responsibilities here at school. Today is a test day (meaning no lessons, which is why I’ve got the time to write this) and before settling down at my desk for a taxing day of surfing the internet I went to fill up my water bottle at the other end of the school. From every classroom I could hear a recorded, robotic voice saying things like “number one: the pencil case is under the chair; number two: the computer is on the desk”, or “Hi Jiho, how’s it going? Great, Minho. How about you?”. I then realised the voice was mine. All this week I’ve been arduously recording the English listening tests that the students are taking now. Each lasts about 20 minutes, but thanks to a combination of our poor technologcial resources and our inept editing skills they have to be recorded in one take, so a single, simple slip of the tongue means the entire process has to be repeated. Reading words off a sheet clearly, slowly and in order is one of those things that’s so easy it becomes hard, like playing table tennis against someone who loops returns back to you at half a mile an hour, and it seems like every spare moment I’ve had this week has been spent speaking into one of those Britney Spears headset microphones.
This weekend I had to go in to school on Saturday morning. In addition to my contracted 22 hours of lessons per week I teach a group of first and second grade students five times a week, after school has finished. Most native teachers that do this get paid a basic overtime rate per hour, but my pay is dictated by however many students sign up for the classes and on Saturday a big after-school fair took place where teachers could advertise their programmes. Otherwise, I might have protested more than I did at only getting one lie-in that week, but I decided I’d probably have a better success rate if I actually showed my face.
I have just performed my second open class since moving to Korea to teach. I hesitated after the first three words of this post and I was racking my brains for a more appropriate verb to use when it struck me that ‘perform’ was perfect – because on reflection the programming and practice (before) and the posing and the precision (during) make these open classes pseudo-lessons: performances. I have noticed here that a robotic predilection to avoid deviation from directions that come from above permeates the Korean education system – whether these directions are effective or not – and this manifests itself in such things as co-teachers’ biblical devotion to the elementary school textbooks. Of course I’m generalising massively, but my point is that a satisfactory open lesson does not a good teacher make, and the belief that it does is representative of some common misconceptions that I believe certain teachers, parents and head honchos hold.