Thursday, July 16, 2009

Some Students

I shouldn't hate kids. I know this. I'm a teacher and I should embrace the challenge of bestowing some Engulishee on children in my classes; especially the ones who don't give a crap and are better suited to some sort of class where the goal is to wander around trying to stab other students with pencils. Pencil stabbing class. Fun!

Most of my students are great. Some are outstanding. I often feel like scooping up one or another into my arms and telling then how spectacular they are, but generally the scooping and the smushing is embarrassing for the kids - so I find another way to point out their awesomeness.

But there are some students,....hoooooo boy - I wonder what their mothers are thinking. By and large they are "first sons" which is a prized position here in Korea. Even more often, the ones that give me the most hassle are "only sons," and I think to myself,...well something about maybe the kid should visit a temple and praise Buddha they're not MY first son because I would smite them for their shitty behaviour. Smite, I say. ("Beat" I don't say, because that's not PC. I would never beat a child, but yet sometimes my imagination runs wild.) Still, I realize that my worse students have been somehow created to be wee monters, so I sometimes imagine smiting their moms who probably find their children's tantrums adorable.

It's the students who make me micro-manage my classes that bug me. The ones who can't stay in their seats. The ones who are compelled to hit their classmates. The ones who can't help themselves from constantly interrupting my lessons with their bad behaviour. I have one middle school student who just recently started, and I knew almost instantly he was going to be trouble when I tried to give him an English nickname. (This is fairly common in English classes, and I don't dislike it - it's so much easier than trying to remember 200 names that are foreign to my vocabulary. Regardless, that's the way it's always been done at my school, so I don't have a choice. "Be Yoon Ji" becomes "Joe." Fine by me. I like to provide the students with a few choices and let them pick their nickname. It takes a little more time than me just knighting them, "Ye shall be 'Donna,'" but I think it's good that make they own their choice. Usually I start off suggesting their name should be Spider Man.

So I knew my new middle school student was going to bug me when before I could get out the first syllable of my first suggestion of "Ja-son," he interrupted with his choice: "Hit-ler."
"Hitler! My name-uh is-uh Hitler."
"Are you kidding? Nong-dam?"

I assured him his name would NOT be Hitler, and asked him if he knew who Hitler was. Perhaps he did know, but he lacked the English to tell me. Hand to heart, he actually looked a bit like Hitler, with a severe side-part and hook-nose. Had puberty grown him a wee mustache, he could have entered a contest. I named him "Tony," after a thorn in my side boy I taught five years ago who has grown into a fabulous high school student complete with charisma and manners.

Long story short, Tony's new name didn't make a lick of difference. He railroaded my classes, and made teaching a most unpleasant experience. With four boys in that class, two of which lacked ability and the other two lacking interest (or enthusiasm or manners) they became my most hated class. They are my last class of the day on Wednesdays and Fridays. My second most hated class is chalk full of "first sons." I've got them first thing on Monday morning. They fight and whine and tattle-tale and take every liberty they think they can get away with. It's like my week is bookended by crap.

Yay, me.
And, "to be continued,....."


Lola O. said...

Okay, I know you were having a rant, but your writing style had me laughing the whole time.

It seems like there are a lot of kids in Korea who want to be called Hitler because this isn't the first time someone has posted about it.

Hopefully, your week gets better!

Joe in Korea said...

Tell him that Hitler would be a fine name if you were teaching German.
I'd just say something like, "Hitler is a German name, not an English name, so pick something else."

Jelly said...

Good idea, Joe - but I worry that Hitler's classmates Dieter, Franz, and Wolfgang will start complaining.