Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Just had to listen to one of my students get caned for 5 minutes by a teacher for some transgression in his class. I think it was something to do with not bringing his book and talking in class too much. He's a bit awkward and gangly, but usually a pretty good kid in my classes, in that he's usually quiet (compared to the others) and not very high level, but he looks like he's paying attention most of the time and really wants to understand, and can usually hammer out a more or less accurate sentence given 5 minutes and some help. But I have no idea how he behaves in other classes which might be why he's just been beaten around the shoulders with a love-stick (read: a wooden stick or bamboo cane that most Korean teachers have) and shouted at.that he's a worthless S.O.aB. (rough translation, but kind of just a generic insultory term in Korean) and a waste of time and how his parents must be disappointed in him (the most crushing thing you can say to a student).

So even though I could never do it, I can see that maybe a whack across the palms is ok if things get bad - it stings and it gets the point across that you've pissed the teacher off - but I hate how far corporal punishment can go here, and I always feel so bad for the kids. Sometimes it's just making them do a kind of downward facing dog position balancing on their knuckles in the corridor, othertimes it's a full-on slap to the face. It's not supposed to happen, but it does - I've seen the student manager here do a three-in-one across the faces of three boys who had been seen smoking behind the school. However, I've been told not to get involved and anyway, I mostly would have no idea how to and definitely no inclination to annoy any of the people I work with by interfering.

Just for the record, the most I do is minus class points - if they get a certain number they have to do lunchroom duty etc to make up for it - or make them stand in the corner or outside in the corridor. Or I take away the fun activities and make them study the textbook and let the rest of the class scream at them for me. The only time I've ever hit a student was accidentally when I was waving my pointer around too much and the tip flew off and bounced off her head.

So this boy got the beat down and verbal abuse and is now kneeling on the floor waiting for the teacher who was disciplining him to finish his class and come back for round 2, and is sniffling and trying to stop crying. But it's not all bad - I liked my VP before, but I like him a bit more now because he just came over and tried to calm the boy down a bit. Admittedly, he also tsked at him for sniffling too loudly and told him off a bit for disrupting the other teacher's class, but he was also pretty kindly about it - more like, 'you know that you were rude and that's bad' than yelling at him - and gave him some tissues. And he does have the position and seniority to do that kind of thing so it's good that he does.

Ok so the other teacher just came back and luckily the beating appears to be over - it's all a verbal scathing from here. Wish he was in my after-school class so I could give him some hot chocolate and check that he's ok. Not that he'd understand me anyway.

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