Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I've had one middle school student for about seven months or so. In all that time, I never noticed that she has what looks like a little baby's finger growing out of her head beside her ear. I might never have noticed, except she came to class last Thursday with this:
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Four new earrings now, where the day before there were none. As soon as she walked through the door, I saw her new punky ear. I was quite surprised, actually. Korea is a pretty conservative place, and this girl has only just started grade eight!

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I called my boss into my class as she passed by and told her to have a look. She said, "If she were my daughter, I'd want to kill her." My student says her mother thinks it's pretty, and that her teachers don't care. I find these details surprising as well. I also found it interesting that she decided to decorate the ear with the baby-finger growing out of it, leaving the other finger-free one bare.

I can't figure this kid out, actually. She really marches to her own drummer. She's got huge owlish black rimmed round glasses, and her teeth are all serrated. It kind of looks like she went to a specialist to have them filed into three jagged little points each. She wears her pleated school uniform skirt almost down to her ankles, and likes to skip class a couple times a week. She's by far the lowest levelled student in the class, and likes to sneak in text messages on her phone when it seems like I'm not paying attention. She doesn't have a really bad attitude, but she also seems to really not care about studying, preferring to shrug her shoulders and whine she doesn't understand the task, despite it being explained in both English and Korean.

Today, one of her friends switched from the higher levelled 5 o'clock class and now it looks like my formerly enjoyable class is going to head down the tubes. With Punk's aversion to studying, and her friend's general pissy attitude, they're adopting a too-cool-for-school stance, and scaring the other two fantastic younger girls into silence. During a speaking exercise today, where I encouraged them to work with one another they wriggled around and sighed and finally just leaned over and copied each other's surveys. I was already exhasperated, and tossed my pencil down and sat there staring at them for the last five minutes.

It didn't help that we've got no new textbooks to start our new "semester." I knew this was going to happen. It always does. Even though we've been working toward finishing up the textbooks for the last three months and the supervisors know we're going to need new texts, they don't order them in time. Just about nothing is done in a timely manner here. Last week we were running around to get all the paperwork done for my new visa the day before it needed to be handed in, even though that deadline has been approaching for the last twelve months!

It's not a huge deal, though. Truly, I've gotten used to it and learned it's easier to just smile and shake my head a bit instead of throwing a tantrum. It's not like all the students won't benefit from a week's worth of review anyhow. One more day 'til a holiday!

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