Thursday, October 1, 2009

I'm pissed off a little bit (yeah), I'm pissed off a little bit (yeah), actually I'm pissed. off. a lot.

Relevant video is relevant, and totally inappropriate and probably offensive. You've been warned:

I try not to post all my personal, gushy feelings here because that is hardly of interest to anyone besides myself. But I am in a foul, foul mood, and so rather than just sort of vaguely talk about some totally neutral topic, I'm going to let off some vitriolic steam. Get ready and....go.

I realize kids will be kids and that:

  • A) it's been at least ten years since I was my students' age and
  • B) even if I could remember what it was like to be 10, 11, or 12 years old, I was never a 10 year old Korean boy, anyway. Also
  • C) as far as kids go I would rank myself as pretty sedate. While I would occassionally sass an elder (I remember my fifth grade teacher using the word "defiant" to describe me during the one and only altercation I remember having with her; this may be a false memory), it was never a battle of getting me to stop running around. Quite the reverse; I'm sure by my parents' standards (mostly Dad's) (I love you, Dad!) I didn't run around enough.

And some days, I don't know what it is, a full moon or biorhythms or too much sugar or impending holidays (추석, more on that later), but they never sit down and I want to break something over their heads and all I can do is stand there and feel incompetent. And then impose martial law and, instead of playing a game that they'd enjoy, be a total bitch and make them do busywork for the rest of class. But most of the time I just feel totally incompetent.

Or they get older and instead of running around like loons all day, sass you in Korean and act like pieces of shit. Obviously a language barrier is frustrating for anyone; it's especially frustrating for me because I'm used to employing a variety of verbal subtleties (and not-so-subtleties) like irony, puns, and sarcasm. The last one there is my weapon of choice in my other life as a cave tour guide, whether to entertain or to discipline, and when you're dealing with 13 year olds who can barely string together a sentence...they don't really pick up on it. I crack jokes in English all the time in class, but of course they don't understand—it's mostly for my sanity. And while I have no way of knowing whether this is true or not, I feel like those all trump body language and facial expressions when I try to communicate. Obviously I can't watch myself talk, but I sense that I often have a pretty deadpan expression, and even if my hands move a lot, they don't move in a way that necessarily illustrates what I'm saying. But facial expressions and body language are exactly what you need to employ when words fail; slapstick is perhaps the only universal humor. It's also the form of humor I hate the most.

In one of my classes, overwhelmingly female, I decided to bring in Twilight. I can't think of anything in recent years that's offended my feminist sensibilities more, but it's English and at least a third of said class has expressed interest in it by actually initiating conversations with me about it, so I thought "Hey! Great way to practice listening skills and kill time in a unit that drags on for far too long!"

And while my Google-fu is pretty strong, it wasn't quite strong enough to get my media player to successfully communicate with the Korean subtitle file. And there are few things in the world more frustrating than almost getting something...but not quite. I'm sure, given a few extra days/weeks of tweaking my media player, I'll get them to work flawlessly together...but of course by then it'll be too late.

So that went over...not as well as I had hoped, but not as bad as it could have been. Then my last class was absolutely off-the-wall bonkers, and I about snapped. Everything was coming together to be a Beowulf clusterfuck of fuck-ups.

I went home, raged a bit to my boyfriend over AIM, and then put on my running shoes and hit the pavement. Fuming the whole time, I inadvertently ran my fastest mile ever, which took the edge off but not quite the whole thing. And now instead of whatever I was going to do tonight (work on designing some jewelry using materials another English teacher here gifted me), I proceeded to bitch about my day on the Internet. Productive!


  1. yes it was productive ---- teaching is hard, frustrating and (from my limited Sunday School experience with the likes of Drew, Kyle,... you get my point) you're often left thinking "what's the point?" the point could be that in 5, 10, 15 years the kids will look back and remember some goofy thing you said (which you didn't even think they heard) that stuck and meant something to them. HANG IN THERE - take a deep breath once in a while; have you ever thought about using drama (as in having them put on a play) to get them engaged in something that could be productive? just a thought

  2. I love you too Katherine. BTW where did you ever pick up the subtley of sarcasm? Must have been from your mother.