November 27, 2010

The gang deals with the North Korea situation (II)... 'nobody loves you when youre down and out'

The situation in the North has pretty much become a same same issue. In Canada there are cold fronts that drift down in from the arctic. They are often despised, and yet Canadians weather these cold spells. They do so while uttering under their breaths that global warming should take them out at some point.

In Korea we have a similar issue, although instead of being a cold front that drifts down, it is a large ego that descends south. I don`t know how much detail I need to go into on that, so I`ll leave it like that. Yet like Canadians it seems to have become a practice for Koreans to utter that the ego will be dealt with at some point. That silencing will occur through starvation, or a communist extinction event.

Both appear to occur with the same frequency as well. Since I've arrived in Korea this is the 4 or 5th time the North has stirred up shit. That seems close if not higher than the amount of cold fronts in Canada.
After my (not so) brief introduction I can reach my point.

I have a small theory as to why the north chose Tuesday to attack. I think it was because they were jealous, I don't think it has anything to do with wanting to start a war. If they really wanted to start a war, they could have easily attacked last week while the G20 was going on. They wouldn't have to worry about the Obama if they knocked him off (although that might lead to a communist extinction event ie. an American invasion).

I've done some brief searches online, and have come up with a possible conclusion. After a (short) search I was unable to find any information on music in the North. People don't really know what the Kim's listen to, well besides their propaganda filled national anthem. This goes for father and son, well more father than son. Either or we know very little.

Shortly before I found out about the attack I secured my tickets for the upcoming Eric Clapton concert. In fact I found out about the concert about an hour before I found out about the attacks. I think they were upset that Eric isn`t visiting them, and that was why they attacked. You may say that that notion is preposterous, absurd, or horribly implausible, so I will present another argument supporting my asinine conclusion.

Last week there were fears that North Korea would attack in some way shape or form. Security at the G20 summit was insane, they had an entire section of the city cordoned off, so that the leaders of the free world could gather Gangnam to chit chat. As we all know there wasn't an attack, and that one actually occured this week, the same day that Eric Clapton tickets were shown on Interpark (a Korean equivalent of Ticketmaster. I highly doubt this was a delayed reaction, and that it took the North a week to fully hit the launch button.

So there it is, a somewhat rational argument for why the North was pissed off.

just a thought.

November 15, 2010

dog and pony show...

This week is my second round of open classes. You may remember that in April I was subject to similar scrutiny (re-read). Where my biggest fear and enemy proved to be my inability to tie a tie. Well I have some good news, I am not going to wear a tie this time around. I've slain that evil through pure avoidance.

Instead I'm left with a larger fear, lack of control. In my previous open classes, I was able to control and dictate the pace, and direction of the class. I chose the story we would read, and I would throw out random questions to my kids. I felt quasi confident in this process, because I could quash any unwanted silence. If a child bottled up, I could simply direct the question somewhere else. All in all, I could fill awkward silence with some child's voice.

This time around I won't be so lucky, I will have minimal control over most of the class. My kids will be presenting an adventure story they wrote. For most people this would be awesome, perhaps even kickass, me, I'm left quaking in my boots. Korean children, like many children I'm sure, crack under the watchful gaze of their parents. The bright, lovely, outgoing students quickly become mutes, it's as if their parents presence creates an invisible gag in their mouths. That is a huge reason I loved to be able to control things, and quickly adapt as the class went on.

Tomorrow they will be thrust under the limelight, or halogen (or whatever light the projector uses), and will recite a story. That as well should be pretty simple, yet the school has decided that it wants the children to memorize the story. Not even a cue card can be used to bail them out.

I have a couple objections to this kind of torture... First with the presentation style. It takes a couple of years of practice before most people don't require cue cards anymore. It took me all of high school and the beginning of college before I started to save trees, and ditch the paper. Yet I was still taught speech class that it was completely fine to rely on cue cards. The invisible safety net would be a great benefit to my kids, considering what happened to some last May. Tomorrow the stress will be cranked, parents will be watching, and hell even the Obama doesn't memorize his speeches.

Tactics aside, as there is little I can do to change the format. My objections for presentations are insignifigant considering my feelings for the students memorizing them. Yet I slightly (silently) objected to the presentations in the first place. This is because the school stated they want the open class to be an average class, and not appear to be staged. I have never, not once held presentations in this class. With that knowledge in hand, it is clear, it will be staged (dance monkey dance) I don't object, really! I love presentations. Okay, slight rephrase, I love giving presentations, I'm not a huge fan of standing on the sidelines.

In the end, I'd love to be able to absorb all the stress in the room to take it off my kids. Perhaps I'll bring a sponge, and try to deflect the tension into that. At the very least I have to know that I've done all I can, and I hope to shit that my kids surprise me and memorize their parts. If not, I may find another rogue gray hair. I found one last week which may, or may not be related to this open class.

November 12, 2010

cars...vulgar language... and barenaked ladies...

What do Top Gear and Anthony Bourdain have in common? probably very little. But! I've shown clips of both to my classes, and my Korean students have learned valuable lessons. Such as, what happens when a car is struck by lightning? I didn't know, but Top Gear filmed it. What are the national dishes of South America? again, I haven't the faintest idea, but Anthony Bourdain and Jamie Oliver know. Although, of the two I kind of prefer Bourdain, nothing against Jamie but Bourdain is brutally honest, and I appreciate that. 
I guess you could say I love being able to show YouTube videos in class. I've been able to expose my kids to highly censored clips of Anthony Bourdain, and non censored clips of Emeril Lagasse. I've also shown clips of Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. All to show my kids that the world eats great food, and so they can see what gorgeous food expanded American waistlines.

I have had to mediate a debate between my Grade two's as they argued which was better, the folk tale Mulan, or Disney's historically inaccurate Mulan. Instead of drawing horrible diagrams of weather, I brought Hurricane Katrina alive in the classroom through NASA's 3-D satellite imaging videos. The same grade two's have also witnessed the phases of construction of the great wall, and all the global empires from the last millennium.

Nobody quite says "Houston, we've got a problem" like Tom Hanks. I'm sorry Jim Lovell, but Forest's got you beat. Tom Hanks didn't play Neil Armstrong, but if he did I'm sure he would kick ass, instead I've had to improvise in class by showing the actual moon landing video. Truth be told I've actually shown that video to four of my classes, as apparently the moon landing is not shown in Korean schools.

Some might say that my use of video in the classroom pushes the limits, I'd say that some of the time they are right, like when I showed David Copperfield make the statue of Liberty disappear (although to my defence, my students were reading the book 'David Copperfield' at the time). Pushed line or not, I find it amazing how educational Anthony Bourdain can be, I find his blatant honesty the best way to describe food that my kids have never heard of. Grammar can also be perfectly demonstrated through the song 'If I Had a Million Dollars', even if I had to spend time explaining why it is cruel to buy a real fur coat.

Perhaps this post just a long winded way of saying, thank you school for buying projectors. It is because of that kind gift, that James May and Top Gear were able to show my Korean students that the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is the world's fastest car.

November 03, 2010

what would you do for a snickers bar?

We had an extra lesson day in the session last week, so it was used to give candy to already hyper children. My youngest kids were adorable, and took the smallest piece of candy with such glee. My older kids however, needed to be bribed a little. I needed them to do some work, and not bounce off the walls. I figured the best way to do that would be to entice them with the allure of more chocolate. I was a little shocked when my plan actually worked. I gave the kids this picture, and told them that the best three stories would get a full snickers bar. I recieved some run of the mill stories, I also recieved these entries. (as always these are unedited)
First place: by Benjamin
(no title)
There are two boys and one tall girl. In Halloween day they were going to the theme park and go inside the ghost's house. But there was a real monster. Everybody screamed and ran outside. But 1 girls and 2 boys didn't scared. The monster asked "why did yours not scare?" "Because your not real!" they said. "We can see your legs, little bit" "Wow, your clever".

Second place: by Lisa
A long time ago, there is a wierd and big large door. It seems like a monster. One day, three (3) children were playing in the playground and saw that door. They suddenly go in front of the door, and laugh. The other people saw them and frightened. More scary thing is that the children didn't move. People thought they were dead. AND, the secret of the door is that's the door the baby dead in that moon, so when the people saw it. They can't move anymore (they died)

Third place: by Esther
(no title)

The three  children live in the very beautiful house. One day, the Halloween is coming. So, they do the Halloween trip. First day, they go to forest, but there is very scary things. They go near. There is the title. 'Welcome to Halloween' The sign is very scary. That place is ghost house. That ghost's tongue is the door. They go inside, but its very fast. Because, the tongue is the roller coaster's seat. When finish the roller coaster they are panic. This time is the most interesting Halloween.