Tuesday, August 24, 2010

the Orange Inquisition

Today, Susan came in to the faculty lounge and started throwing things around. Since Susan is normally the picture of motherly love and never loses her temper - even though sometimes she has great reason - we were all concerned.

Turns out the mothers of one of our Kindergarten classes - Orange, the oldest - have banded together and decided that their children are not learning enough English. Since these kids are leaps and bounds ahead of all the others in kindergarten this makes no sense to me. But apparently, they called Susan out and flat out asked her why their kids don't speak better English. This, obviously, is a hard question to answer. What I would have pointed out is that these kids are only six and are pretty much still learning Korean.

They were yelling at her today because, as she was trying to explain to them, the class is focusing on speaking and being understood. Memorizing what to say and knowing what it means and when to say it. The mothers don't like this idea. They have an eye towards the future when their kids will have to take the Junior English Test (a written test). The mothers don't understand why their children aren't able to compose sonnets by now.

Being in a private tutoring school really leaves you a lot closer to the inner workings of the school than working in a public school might. I know the school has strained finances - this is obvious by the fact that I replaced two foreign teachers when I got here and another Korean teacher is now only working part time - and that kindergarten is where they make most of their money.

One of the students in my after school class, Daniel, is the brother of one of the Orange class students. And honestly, the one thats in Kindergarten is doing better than Daniel. I'm not sure why this is. Every time I ask Daniel a question about grammar he more often then not has the answer. He's not the top of the class but he's not lagging far behind, either. Yet, every time he has a chance to display his English skillz in front of his parents, he won't. When I call home to talk to him over the phone - this is mostly for the mother's benefit - he answers all questions with one word answers. Mostly 'no' and 'yes'. His father apparently speaks wonderful English and doesn't understand why he can't converse with either of his sons in it. I have a feeling his parents are leading this little crusade.

The mothers are going to descend on us in the coming week to observe classes and teaching styles to determine if they are getting their money's worth. This is highly nerve wrecking, especially when it seems they've decided that they aren't getting what they want. Poor Susan, being Orange's homeroom teacher, - or at least the only one who speaks Korean - is going to bear the brunt of the inquisition.

Either way, this week's stress level just when up exponentially.

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