Week numbero dos finds me less stressed but no less tired. Around Wednesday I was able to surmount the near-constant cloud of panic I had been operating under and get far enough ahead of myself in planning my classes that I could breath properly. For the first time since I arrived in Korea I felt adequate to my job.
I also had my first class with the third graders, which was truly fun. After a scintellating introduction and explanation of my many fascinating attributes ("I am 24. I am from America. My favorite color is purple.") we played a version of musical chairs where 16 students sat in a circle of 15 chairs. When I would say an attribute like, "Students who are wearing... blue!" all the students who fit the profile would have to change chairs. The student left standing performed a penalty.
For the longest time I was unable to figure out what the penalty was; the students seemed to be wiggling a lot. Eventually it dawned on me that the students were actually spelling out letters of the alphabet in the air... with their butts.
Now, I don't know how this would fly in the USA (probably not) but in Korea it makes for some real amusement on the part of both the adults and children present. After awhile the 3rd grade teacher and I played with the kids too and performed penalties, which the kids really enjoyed, to put it mildly. The class ended with me getting hugs from every one of the kids. I was really great and I can safely assure you that absolutely no English was learned during during the course of that lesson.
After work Wednesday I met with some other EPIK teachers at Certo Cafe where we drank caffeinated drinks with whipped cream, played crazy 8s, and talked teaching. Stories were exchanged, including the title of this post, which was asked to a middle school teacher by a student. The teacher, cool under fire, replied, "No, it's a lifestyle."
Tonight I've been invited to dinner and tomorrow I'm hiking Taebaek-san, which my guidebook says is one of the 6 holiest mountains in Korea... whatever that means.
I'll leave you with some interesting "Cultural Notes" from the English teaching guide to my 6th grade textbook. I assume they're directed torwards the Korean English teachers, since the language is too complex for students and I would like to think I do not need to be instructed on my own culture.
Anyway... all typos and mispellings below are from the original:
Individualism of the Americans
The Americans value individualism. Equality, justice and democracy are another value system in American society.
Fundamentally, every human being has the same right and they believe that they have a freedom, human rights by nature.
They want to protect themselves by not being bothered by any other people.
Thus they have been trained in a way to decide what they want and what they have to do to get it by themselves in their young period. Accordingly, they use I, me, my, and mine, but we don't hear "We Americans", or "We British" in their language.
The American School System
American students have milk, grapes, oranges, fruit sherbet, cerealm etc as their breakfast in the school. They bring their lunch or school provides various lunch menus such as sausages, hot dogs, spaghetti, tacos, fruit ice cream, sandwiches, steak, pizza, etc.