[Note: This is a coda to a series of posts titled “On Teaching Writing in a Korean University. You’ll probably get more out of this if you start at part 1.]
I had an email exchange the other day with one student, and a phone conversation with another. Both threw some interesting light onto the problems I’ve discussed in this ongoing series and in other posts about teaching in Korea, so I figured I’d share. (And my next post, maybe later this week, will touch on the question of what I have to say about essays and alternative projects after having done all my grading and seen the students’ work.)
The phone conversation was with a student with whom I had a discussion about her final essay. We get along well, and can be brutally honest with one another, and I made the point that, her incomplete and somewhat problematic argument aside, her approach to writing was, well… it could be improved. I don’t mean her grammar, I mean her sense of structure, of argumentation, of how to demonstrate a point and support it with evidence, and so on.
(And in turn, she gave a pretty accurate critique of the course she took with me this semester, including its warts and problems. The final verdict was that I was too nice to the class, for reasons that seemed apparent to all the students — I looked exhausted all semester, she said — and that if I could have found the energy, I should have been more of a slave-driver.)
In the course of the conversation, a few interesting points emerged: Continue reading