Archive for September, 2008


Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a clearness committee right about now…


Sorry for not writing in so long!  I’ve been very busy during this holiday, surprisingly, and have not had much quality time to sit down and write a quality entry.  I do have one coming soon about me and reenacting, again.  There’s a new foreigner here in Jindo who went to a Quaker school, and she has caused me to think about that query again.  It’s such a complicated issue that I really tend to babble about it, but I will do my best to sound coherent, when I do write it.


So, I got ahold of the Seoul Quakers.  There seems to be some debate as to whether Meeting is happening this coming weekend or not, due to Chuseok, but I’m going to go up anyway.  Traveling anywhere else will be expensive, and Landoll and his wife have a guestroom that I am apparently more than welcome to stay in.  Especially given the grossness of my current accomodation, I don’t really care to spend a 4 day weekend puttering around Jindo, since that’s what I do on an average weekend anyway.  So, Seoul it is.  Maybe this time I’ll actually make it down to Suwon to see the folk village.

It will be nice to see them again.  Things have been a bit stressful here, and even though Meeting may not happen, just being around other Quakers was very calming, and so I think it will do me a world of good.  Besides, there’s another 3 day weekend at the end of the month, so I can also always go to meeting then, instead.  Sadly, there’s no holidays in November, and so while I will probably still attempt to head up there for a weekend, it will have to be a whirlwind trip.  But, hopefully it will work and be worth it.

Anyway.  This entry was probably more appropriate for Jindo Waygook than here, but whatever.

A note on an aspect of “Simple Living” in my life…

I realized today that there are quite a few things that we take for granted in the west, that I do not have here (and some that I don’t have at home, either), and I have realized that really, some of them suck to not have, but most of them aren’t so bad:

Dishwasher: If I had a family, this would be pretty necessary (unless I made dishes a part of chores), but for one or two people, so long as you make sure to do the dishes once a day, or as you use them (as I tend to do), it’s not a problem.

Washer/Dryer: Pretty much the only thing I miss about a dryer is being able to wear something within 15-30 minutes of it coming out of the washer. Here, it takes 2-3 hours at best, and 2-3 days at worst. But, in general, it’s not a problem, and if I end up with a house, I would strongly consider line-drying the bulk of my clothes, so long as I have a dryer as a backup for during the rain. The lack of a washer (I have one in Jindo, but not here in Gunnae) sucks though. I washed a couple days of clothes in the kitchen sink today, with some dish soap and some tea tree oil soap (for disinfectant), and since I also have no hot water at the moment, I had to boil the water to wash them. Not the end of the world, but it does sort of suck. A washer is not something I think I would willingly give up for more than a few weeks at a time.

TV: Only once in my life have I ever had a TV in my living space, and at that, it was only a few months and virtually never got used (and even then, it was only for DVDs). I do watch some TV on my computer, but very little (maybe 1-2 hours a week). I watch movies pretty regularly (once a week-ish), but again, on my computer most of the time. I have a TV in Jindo, but it is almost never used, and even then it’s mostly used to watch CNN. If one could be had cheaply, I think I would have a TV in my living space, but it is definitely not a priority, and I could easily continue to do without one.

Cell Phone: When I tell Koreans I have no cell phone, they look at me like I’ve just told them I have no left ear. Hell, I get a similar reaction in the states when I tell people that on average, I use about 40 minutes a month, and never more than an hour (well, not in the last 3 years, anyway) and generally only use them for coordinating amongst friends. Honestly, I hate cell phones and wish they’d go away. I hate that I “have” to have one in order to communicate with people in this day and age. I use pay-by-minute cell phones and if I could, I wouldn’t have one at all.

Car: Now, this one I miss. I love to drive. It’s very zen for me, and I love being able to wander. However, that said, I love my scooter. Depending on what happens with Marc and I when I get back, I would seriously consider having just the Ural sidecar bike that I intend to get when I get back and, if he would be up for it, sort of sharing his car as our non-open air vehicle, and using Zipcar or somesuch if we both needed a car at the same time. I’d prefer to also own a car, but it wouldn’t be terrible to have to share a car.

Microwave: While I did use one of these relatively regularly back in the US, I think that while I will probably have one when I return, I will use it far less. I don’t have one here, and I have learned how to do without it. This, along with dryers, is a huge energy waster.

At this place I also have no furniture other than a bed, only one lightbulb, and infrequent hot water. Those all pretty much suck, but it’s not the end of the world. Back in the US, I got mockingly called a “luddite” on more than one occasion, but really, that’s not true. I love my computer and the internet (though going without, when necessary, doesn’t bother me much, as I write in paper journals in addition to my blogs), and I do love certain aspects of technology. But, there are many aspects that I can definitely do without, and even some aspects that I strongly dislike.  In general, I definitely prefer this more simple life to a more technology-filled one.

A trying day…

Korea is very big on corporal punishment (with sticks, not rulers), and punishment in the classroom in general.  I, predictably, am not.  I generally try to redirect the student’s energy into something at least vaguely productive.  About 90% of the time it works, often to the surprise of my Korean co-teachers, who seem to be fans of using a (often rather knobby) stick instead.

I refuse to hit my students like they do, though I do sometimes rap the whiteboard pen on a student’s desk if they’re being particularly disruptive or distracted.  That’s about as violent as I get in the classroom.  The harshest thing I’ve done in the classroom was when I made a really rowdy student come sit in a chair by my desk.

That is, until today.

Today I had to discipline an entire class.

They didn’t like my lesson, so they were protesting by being silent. In an attempt to determine whether they were just upset that I was doing a grammar lesson, or if the lesson was simply too hard, I asked them if it was too difficult, a simple yes or no question. Silence. I told them that if it was, I would do an easier activity, that it was no problem. Silence. I had my Korean co-teacher translate, in case they weren’t understanding. Still silence.

I did my best to not get angry.  I raised my voice a little, but I did not yell.  But, eventually, their blank stares wore me down.  I tried to think of a punishment that was non-violent, non-shaming, and non-personal.  After 10 minutes of trying to get them to say something, anything, even “yes” or “no”, I told them that if they were going to be silent, they were going to do so uncomfortably. I made them all stand up from their desks and stand with their arms outstretched. Silent. For the entire period. Believe me, after 15 minutes, it starts to get really uncomfortable, and there was about 25 minutes left in the class.

I’m vaguely worried about retribution, however. Last week a teacher punished a few students, and they broke 7 windows in the teachers’ office in response. I told my co-teacher that in America, those students would be expelled, or at least suspended. These were the 8th graders (or rather, the Korean equivalent), who at this school are apparently are a reasonably violent and vengeful bunch, so I do have to be careful about what I do with them. After the bell rang, I asked them “Did you enjoy that?” “No…” “Will you speak when I ask you a question, in the future?” “Yes…”.  Next class, I will likely pretend it didn’t happen, and just move on, though if they behave the same way again, I will bring it up.

According to my co-teacher, they think I should only play games with them, as their previous foreign teacher did. I told them that I would play a game with them the last week of every month, but if I *only* played games with them, they will not learn anything from me because I only see them once a week, and insinuated that it would greatly lessen their chances of getting off the island and into a university. Harsh, yes, but they really, really angered me. They were completely disrespectful to both me and the co-teacher, and the other Korean teacher who was brought in to help. They were disrespectful by American standards, and *extremely* disrespectful by Korean standards, even cussing at both me and the Korean teachers at times.  I tried explaining to them that this decision to not learn had a far more reaching effect than they could really understand at this point in their lives, but it seemed to have no effect.

It’s early in the year, and I do *not* want to start off the year seeming like a pushover, but I also am generally a very friendly teacher and didn’t want to start out on this type of footing either. I really hope this has some effect, so that I do not have to do anything even remotely similar in the future. As a friend of mine says, if I continue with the same, all I will do is achieve compliance through force, which is not a productive form of classroom management, and not a role I feel comfortable in.

After class finished, I felt really uncomfortable with what happened.  In fact, I think that discomfort may have in fact resulted in me being more frustrated in class than I otherwise would have been.  I did not want to punish them, but, at least within the Korean system, they left me no real choice, and I was upset with them for inadvertently forcing me push the boundaries of my personal convictions, thus making me feel very un-Quakerly and generally uncomfortable.

I have been trying to think of less confrontational ways to deal with similar problems in the future, but thus far, I haven’t been able to come up with much that would work with Koreans.

Planned Posts

Posts coming soon:

Equality and Teaching in Korea: Oil and Water
Today’s REALLY UnQuakerly Moment (and how uncomfortable it made me)