Teaching and stuff

I have recently made a rather startling discovery. One that shaken me to my very core and challenged beliefs that I have held close to me for many years. My convictions regarding this subject have been thrown into question and almost everything I once felt sure of has now been painted in every shade of gray. It’s scary, thought provoking and inspiring when things such as this happen. It’s like a light has been switched on for me, no longer can I feign ignorance and remain blissfully unaware of this astonishing new development.
Kids are people too.
I know……unbelievable as it sounds……I know.
And just people, they’re the same whereever you go. I mean yeah, cultural differences aside; we all want the same things deep down. To be happy, to be loved, to be well fed and cared for. To be able to watch the two seasons of Arrested Development that you were given for your birthday but had to leave behind thanks to Air Canada’s dumb-ass weight restrictions on international flights that you wonderful, beautiful, and very smart mother said she would sent to you………ahem.
Seriously though, it takes the edge off. Standing in front of a room full of kids who are, by nature, trained to dislike you from the get-go, and realizing that for the next 2-3 hours it’s just you and them, and with them outnumbering you at least 8-1…defensive tactics are often jump-started long before they need to be.
I’m not 100% sure exactly when it was that I began to dislike/fear those under the age of 17, give or take a few years. I used to like kids. Hell, I sought out opportunity’s to be around and interact with them. I was babysitting by the time I was 13, was a Sunday School teacher from around the same time until I was about 16 or so. I became a camp counselor in and after high school. But somewhere along the lines I became less and less attached to the little urchins, so much so that by the time I was in my final year of university, children were something I went out of my way to avoid, never mind trying to relate to them on any level. Theatre worked it’s magic the way it often does, in ways you never even see coming and working with kids within the confines of various productions in the past few years has made my urge to kill lessen somewhat, I have even met a few I enjoy spending time with here and there. Thus the idea of teaching in Korea didn’t seem as intimidating as it once might have. Hell, I thought, I might even enjoy it!

If this were a movie, this would be the part where the screen flips and shows the faces of ten thirteen year olds, their faces filled with a mixture of hostility and pity and me holding a grammar book with a big stupid smile plastered onto my mouth. You can practically see the words forming above my head,…..which I won’t go into detail about since I promised my mom I would try to stop swearing in my blog so much.
But through my miasma of distrust and discomfort, a small light was shining in the form of my S4 class, my 8pm class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s not just that most of them have lived in the US at one point or another so their speaking skills are that much higher then other students. It’s not just that most of them are friends from other classes so there is a certain level of comfort and trust in the classroom without me having to do anything at all. And it’s not just the fact that if I were twelve, these are the kind of girls I would be friends with.
These kids blow me away. Every time. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not perfect angels that I never have to discipline or tell to be quiet. I do☺. It’s their enthusiasm that gets me, how they seem so genuine and are so willing to talk to me about anything and everything; movies, music, books, school. We had a 20-minute class discussion on different art forms and what makes each of them special. Their vocabulary is not perfect. Their writing is not fluent. But they try so hard, and laugh the whole way. And lets not forget the fact that these kids speak another language, if not fluently, then pretty damn close, prior to their teenage years even beginning.

There are some people out there that are just fun to be around. Kids too. And there are some people out there who are assholes. Kids too. And the thing that I’m struggling with is the whole idea that kids, unlike adults, are still in the learning process of becoming cool, or becoming assholes. And by choosing to be one or the other yourself, regardless of how you actually feel about them, could make all the difference in the world. To them and to you.
If I have learned anything about teaching in my first month here, it’s that teaching is a give and take relationship. On both sides. Both sides. It’s easy to want to remove yourself from the situation when it scares you and just talk at them instead of trying to talk with them. I’m still not 100% convinced that I’m going to be any good at this whole teaching thing. What I do know is that I’m trying to look at it in a different way then I was before. Trying to look at the kids in a different way then before.
After my S4’s left today, I was tidying up my desk when Katie ran back into the room. She reached into her bag and pulled out a chocolate cupcake. The packaged, processed and preserved kind that has been sitting on the store shelves for god only knows how long and would probably survive a nuclear holocaust. She handed it to me with a big smile and ran back out shouting promises that her essay would be handed in by tomorrow.
How fucking cute is that? ☺


Katie is such a sweetheart! It's awesome to have those 1 or 2 classes that keeps you goin.. :)
Anonymous said…
I think that you are way smarter than I am - well in some stuff anyway - but I'm still older and probably know a little more just because of that - right, don't you think!?? Very good reading -


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