Monday, March 29, 2010

Korean Children

I have always been surprised how people treat children in Korea.

A child in public is like everyone's child. If the kid were to start crying their would be 30 women coming over to placate it and another 40 sitting around clucking about how cute he is. People will play with stranger's children on the subway and give them food or candy.

At 10pm at night you can see children running around unaccompanied on the streets. Kids under a certain age are never punished. They can pretty much do whatever they want, be as loud as they want and everyone will think it's just adorable.

In school kids run in and out of the faculty room snatching things off desks and begging the teachers for candy. The other English teachers all roughhouse with the kids - tackling them, throwing them over shoulders, and even swinging them around by their ankles.

But then in school, when they get older, the pressure is ON. High school kids stay at schools from the time they get up in the morning until around 10pm. When I ask the kids what they did over the weekend all they have to say is that they studied. Period. They have violin lessons, piano lessons, math lessons, English lessons and sometimes even Chinese lessons after school. All this competition is to get into one of the few universities in Korea and, as I have mentioned in previous posts, these seem to be little more than four years of networking.

The gender dynamics are pretty interesting too. The little girls all take it upon themselves to keep the little boys in line. A couple times, before I could reprimand a boy for not paying attention or for goofing off, a nearby girl would yell at him in Korean and he would snap to.

The little girls in kindergarten will organize the boy's crayons or yell at them for not coloring in the lines. This seems to be a system that works pretty well, until you have class full of rowdy boys and no girls.

Anyway, I had something witty to say about this whole thing - something about trying to give a stranger's child candy in America. But I'm way too tired so why don't you fill in the joke here:

Here is something interesting: They have apparently found a new hominid species in Siberia. ..... Apply only where values of 'interesting' are directly correlated to whether or not your are an anthropologist. I personally thought it was amazing.

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