Monday, April 16, 2007

Kids Write the Darnedest Things

My greatest source of insight into the lives and mentality of Koreans comes from my students' essays. I admittedly get tired of grading essays all week long but I value the opportunity to learn more about my students. Most of them are pretty shy in class and so I'm often surprised how they are in their essays. Since my life is not all that exciting at the moment, I've decided to start posting excerpts from my favorite essays.

Beating kids is acceptable in Korea, not only by parents but by teachers as well. Stress positions are also used when students act up. One of my students told me that last week his entire class had to hold their chairs above their heads for 30 minutes because they had all misbehaved. For an essay on why is love important, one student wrote, "When a teacher hits a student, that teacher has love for the student." When asked if physically punishing children is acceptable, 7 kids in a class of 10 assented. Here is part of one of their essays: "If the parents just talk to make their children to know their mistake, it is good way to make them spoiled. They might listen to their parents at that time but they will not realize the seriousness of their fault and do not regret. That is the reason why we should punish the kids physically so that they can look over their everyday lives and they can know the real emotion of parents that they are very angry and disappointed about what their children have done. Hitting method is great way to make the kids to realize that they have misbehaved... Kids have to know that their parents are not scolding them to make them feel angry or frowning, but they only want their little babies to be more successful than any other children from different families." Although I'm generally one for accepting and accommodating cultural differences, I have difficulty with the idea of parents beating their kids. I doubt this will change.

One boy said that family is the most important thing to him because they're the only ones he can truly trust. He wrote that everyone else is just his competition (including friends).

On the importance of rules and laws: "If we don't have laws, we will be free. But we are not safe because people can do something dangerous. O.J. Simpson is a person who killed his wife and his wife's friend If there was no law the world will be filled with people like O.J. Simpson. It will be dangerous for innocent people. Even though we might have done nothing wrong, we might die."

On the changing role of women in Korean society: "Korean women's desires have changed through the years. In the past, their hopes were to have a well grown healthy son and their family's honor. But in the modern society of Korea our hopes have stretched out further and higher, like being successful ourselves, going to a good college and having a satisfying job."

I'll post more excerpts at the end of the week!


Blogger reed_maker said...

Hi Haley! Paula's Kathleen here.

Cultural differences are such a challenge, especially when they become tied up with moral issues rather than just with habit and custom! How does one ever know when to acqiesce or when to try to explain, or even assert, one's own values?

I can imagine you correctin this sentence: Hitting method is great way to make the kids to realize that they have misbehaved...

Actually, young student, a better way to say this is: Hitting is a great method to make kids realize they have misbehaved...

How can you just correct the grammar and not comment on the content? It's tough.

3:05 PM  

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