Friday, December 26, 2008

Are 6th Grade students the devil?

Sixth-grade Seoul English teacher Kim Yeong-hwa has written a book with that claim. Korea Beat has the story. The one thing that confuses me, though, is the word 'Novel' in their title. The excerpt reads like non-fiction but I thought 'novel' was used to describe fiction. Perhaps it's a story based on real life events and the author is pushing her agenda through a fictionalized account.

An excerpt from the Korea Beat: [Problems began with]
the abolition of corporal punishment 10 years ago. The inability to use corporal punishment has become teachers’ weak point. Mrs. Kim stressed, “with no way to punish students who violate the rules, the school becomes a lawless place with no control over them. We have to allow teachers to use corporal punishment or expulsion when necessary.” Beginning in elementary school you can clearly see the effects of an inability to punish violations of the rules.

The first satisfactory result from her idea to “allow teachers to use corporal punishment” would be the restoration of respect for teachers. She said, “when children come to school now, the result of corporal punishment is that they think ‘the teacher expects kindness’ instead of ‘what did I do wrong?’ Please don’t cut down the teacher in front of the children… When you have a teacher devoted to scholarship, parents will openly take care of problems. When teachers are not respected, everything is more difficult and they are insulted behind their backs. That is my story.”

I am teaching elementary school students now and enjoying it, but that's only because I'm doing it for only a short period (two hours a day for two months). I worked at a children's hagwon ten years ago and didn't like it. So, I can definitely sympathize with teachers of elementary school children. It is a very challenging job and one that exhausted me.

Still, remove corporal punishment and you have "no way to punish students"? Let's see; telling the parents, or even threatening to, worked for me. Assigning low grades might work for some students (when I was in Elementary school, there was too big a gap between my bad behaviour and my parents seeing my report card- in High school, I understood the connection but not so much in Elementary). Time outs, visits to the principal, detention, loss of privileges...

She somehow thinks that bringing back corporal punishment would restore respect for teachers. Do they use that claim at Guantanamo?

I can't figure this line out: "the result of corporal punishment is that they think ‘the teacher expects kindness’." Does Kim think that violence encourages kindness? Is Gandhi in her class?

I also like the bit about "devotion to scholarship" because that's what corporal punishment means to me.

The Korea Beat also links to a few articles of teachers taking corporal punishment further than even Kim Yeong-hwa would find acceptable - I hope. I think there was a similar Onion article, "Child Abuse: how much is too much?". Here it is (just a picture).

It's possible Kim needs to retire soon.


Korea Beat said...

The book is a novel, so I guess it's a fictionalized version of her experience.

kwandongbrian said...

Thanks, Korea Beat.