Ha, last day of marking, my butt…

I have, as it turns out, two exams on Monday evening. So today was not my last day of marking at all…

But before I go on about the craziness of today, which was after all a very crazy day, I want to say that waking in the morning to a very nice sweet good-morning message waiting for me as a text-message on my phone, that’s probably one of the best possible ways I could wake up in my current circumstances. It made my day, really.

My students are damned lucky that I did wake up with this text message on my phone, let me tell you. The ensuing good mood shielded them from the rage I might have otherwise have felt if I’d not been so cheerful. My Freshman conversation students are, well half of them, either a gang of liars, or a pack of idiots. They actually claimed that I told them only one dialogue would be on their final exam. They claimed, to my face, that I said only Unit 9’s Speak Up dialogue would be on the test. Which is ridiculous, as I told them Unit 6, 7, 8, and 9 would all be on the test, several times.

But what was I to do? Fail half the class en masse? Ridiculous, really. So I told them that they’d simply have to meet me at my convenience. They screwed up, after all, and I am NOT going to school at 8:30 am on Monday to test them during normal classtime, especially since I have another exam at 8:30pm Monday night…

So I told them 7pm on Monday would be the test time. One student raised an alarum, claiming she had a class on Monday night at 6pm… until I asked when the class finished and she told me it finished at 7pm. Sure, that would make it hard if she was doing a written test, but since it’s a series of pairs of students, being ten minutes late for my 7pm start time matters not at all. So the students agreed to meet me on Monday night.

But for the most part, today was the end of my marking work. I still have some paperwork to do, some participation grades to assign, things like that… most of that I’ll finish tomorrow morning, actually.

Some of the student antics, I tell you… were amusing. And some were… shocking.

One boy gave me a big hug and tried to kiss me on the cheek after class. I told him a hug was okay but no kissing. Another young man declared, “I love you! We love you Gord Professor!” I try not to see this fawning in quite the way I’d see it if a Westerner did it to me, but it still kind of weirds me out. I do have to wonder why it’s boy students hugging me, and not girl ones. Ah, poor me…

As usual, male students talking about their “boyfriends” and me explaining this means lover-kissing-sex boyfriend, while they mean “guy friend”, was a source of some amusement for me. One boy claimed to spend two weeks communing with nature (and communing with his girlfriend’s nether regions) in a tent in Africa on his last vacation. One student urged another to ask me on a date, to the shock of the other student (apparently the dialogue did not go as rehearsed). The very Christian teetotal girl who looks like Alyssa Milano confessed to getting drunk out of her skull alone in her house last year over a boy who dumped her.

One young man asked me not to fail him for fear that one more F on his list of Fs would get him kicked out of school… though that didn’t seem to matter to him enough for him to study for the test, as he openly admitted to not studying. (And what do you know, he failed and is no longer going to be a student. And no, I did not do it to him. He did it to himself.)

A student showed up with his face torn up because of a motorcycle accident, and beamed at all claiming he felt sooooo good. (Maybe he was on painkillers?) And I had a meeting over lunch (my only spare hour before 3:30pm) with an absentee student working in Seoul, whose English was better than any of the classmates she would have studied with if she’s been in Jeonju all semester.

Finally, walking up to campus, I ran into the girl who, all those months ago, showed me her chest in class. She asked me when the final exam was, would she really get an F. “Well,” I said in Korean, shaking my head with, I’ll admit it, a brief glance at her chest, “the exam was yesterday. You’ve missed eleven or twelve classes, so… you have an F anyway! I can’t give you a better mark at all.”

“But, oh, professor,” she says in really desperate-pitched, girly Korean slang, trying to sound sexy but coming off slightly ridiculous, “how can I… is there any way I can not have F?” She grabbed my arm, looked at me very clearly in the eyes. I think she was trying to offer me something, though of course one can never be sure.

I wish I could say I am a strong man, that it was only my willpower or the fact someone else is floating around in my brain that made me say no. After all, she is a very pretty-looking girl, and young and, as my friend Sang Joon would say, “She is good-shaped!” But there was something else… I was just put off by her absolute mental inertia. Dumbass girlies who don’t do their homework don’t excite me. And besides, I have some integrity. I don’t know how much, but certainly more than this girl thought, anyway.

The nicest moments of the day were when students paused after an exam, and tried to figure out how to say in English what they wanted to say. Sometimes it would be, “You have great vacation!” or “Thank you Gord Professor,” and often after a long pause, it would be, “Sugohessyeossseoyo. Komapseumnida!” (You worked hard/well. Thanks!)

Sometimes looking at the uni system I think nobody cares about whether the students learn or not… but I know there’s a part of me that does care, and teaches like I care, and some small number of the students catch that, realize what’s going on (as they must lso catch on with the occasional Korean prof, of course) and they recognize it when they talk to you. You can see it in how they look at you, I swear, that small number of students.

5 thoughts on “Ha, last day of marking, my butt…

  1. But, Gord, the girls just *wouldn’t* hug and kiss a strange male, a professor and a foreigner to boot. ’tis just not done….

  2. Except for the type who show you their chests in class, and I’m not sure I want hugs and kisses from *that* sort. Anyway… hahaha.

    I just don’t need boys trying to hug and kiss me, is all…

  3. I can understand that but hugging might still be difficult to avoid. Here we have men holding hands or walking with arms around each other’s waists/shoulders or hugging each other all the time…. :)

  4. We don’t have that so much here. And while one other male teacher reported being hugged, I’ve not had the experience more than once in almost two years… though once a drunk ajeoshi (er, middle-aged man) did try to grope my “naughty bits”, a situation from which I extricated myself rather easily, thank goodness.

    And for the record, I hug my male friends occasionally and see nothing wrong with it. I hugged all my bandmates last night at the bar, for example, when telling them how I thought it’s had been a good 2 years we’d been playing together. But students hugging professors seems somehow… too… I don’t know. And it *is* unusual here, so… anyway. :)

    At least they didn’t put paintbombs in my desk… things could be much worse!

  5. I’m surprised the girl showed you her breasts. Do students ever try to bribe you? In middle schools, kids’ parents regularly bribe teachers. I’ve seen it and, to some degree – in the form of gift certificates – received it (back when I was making 20% of the test questions and too fresh into Korea and naive to know what was going on…).

    I’ve heard from other teachers and parents that in some schools, giving 100-200 thousand won “gifts” to your kid’s teacher 2-3 times a year, is customary. Moreover, I’ve seen what the result is: it’s not that marks are changed (as far as I can see) – and no student ever fails to advance on to the next grade (a Korean education policy) but some kids are chosen over others to participate in English, math or science competitions… and some kids go to the best high schools in the province… and the chosen are not always the best, I suspect. The problem with all this analysis and asserting is that a non-Korean can never really be sure what’s going on. I think only the teachers who accept the bribes know what effects bribery has.

    As for the kids whose parents can afford to give bribes I think these kids *do* end up being among the best students. Their parents care about education. Their families are competitive. Their families are wealthy enough to afford bribes… or private after-school education. These kids get many opportunities to perform at a higher level (competitions, for example). Bribery in the Korean education system is just *how it is* and the wealthy garner the most benefit. Ever wonder why people are money hungry? They’re often (usually?) not simply materialistic – they *see* what money can do, what opportunities it can buy, and how important those opportunities are.

    And that said, the next question I think of is, “Yeah, but at what cost? What’s more important, the opportunities or the costs to one’s integrity?” Then I think… as long as the kids don’t see what’s going on, maybe they’re shielded from corruption and simply benefit. …And then I think, “Yeah, good luck… Ninety or more per cent of the time, kids see what’s going on.” And maybe these kids are the ones who grow up and pull up their shirt for their professor.

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