You know, I had a bad impression of the Academic Affairs Office where I work even before I was hired. I don’t know what happened, but twice they claimed not to have received my transcripts — transcripts that somehow arrived everywhere else they were sent. Ahem.

Well, getting final, official clearance to match the unofficial permission I’ve repearedly to go to Clarion West, this seems to have become well-nigh impossible. Almost. But fill out this one more little paper, and maybe we’ll see. Oh,and this one. And can you fill out that form? And retype this letter, but leave this and that detail out? By tomorrow?

At first, a professor nicely called over there for me, and they said, “Sure, just write up a table showing all the hours that will be taught in the class, including make-up classes, and it should be no problem.”

I did this. I included a letter with my vague plans for make-up classes, and a very detailed explanation of the grading system I would use for each class which showed why I was sure the grades would be done on time.

Then they said they wanted a copy of the official invitation letter. There was none — at that time, all I’d gotten was a phone call — but I asked the nice people at Clarion West to write one, and Neile did.

Then, a few weeks later, they said, “Oh, but we need you to fill out an official form with the make-up class dates.” So I filled one out.

Then they complained that a date was mistaken on the form. The secretary fixed it.

Then, a week later, they called asking for the official booklet for the workshop. I brought the packet I’d received and explained that no official booklet was made, or would ever exist, and that this was a WORKSHOP. The booklet I got in my mailing package was copied.

Then, less than a week later, they called, saying, “Oh, well, we need some kind of explanation about what this thing is.” I’d already given them a link to the Clarion site, and a basic explanation in my letter, but no, that wasn’t good enough. They needed some kind of paper. So I typed something up and the kindly secretary translated it.

And now (as of Monday), they’ve called yet again, and you want to know why? Because, you see, the full-course-hours plan I’d submitted months ago assumed I’d be teaching on days that, over a month and a half later, I was informed were actually — SURPRISE– holidays! I had one hour of classes planned on this holiday, and two hours planned on that one, and of course, that’s a problem. So, someone in Academic Affairs said, “Hey, wait, he’s not teaching 48 hours in this class: the 6th is a holiday, so he’s teaching only 47 hours! And last Thursday nobody had classes, so he must be under 45 hours in that class…” and so on, and so on.

They just HAD to call again, of course. Mind you, these holidays were applicable to ALL courses. NOBODY teaches make-up classes for national and school holidays. NOBODY. In addition to that, I actually gave none of my classes a day off after exams, unlike EVERYONE else. But of course, that is unofficial. But hell, EVERYONE KNOWS that NOBODY does make-up classes for holidays.

So what do they ask the secretary?

You guessed it: “Did he schedule make-up classes for the national holidays?”

So yet again, I had to type the letter, this time not outlining exactly how many hours I’ll be teaching, but rather how many hours I’ll be missing and the make-up classes (which by the way I’ve already held) for those missed classes. Why?

Because the Ministry of Education might show up and might look closely at this random document and might say something about, “How could he have taught on those days when they were holidays?”

Which, by the way, is exactly why Korean attendance sheets don’t actually track attendance. They track student absence. They’re actually absence sheets. They show when a student hasn’t attended, because that way there’s no record of the fact that class wasn’t taught on a particular day. Oh, that was a holiday? I don’t remember. Anyway, my attendance sheet doesn’t show any holiday. (So in addition, I am now required to recopy all my attendance sheets into a much more deceptive form. Because, you know, the government might take an interest in this.)

And what is this all over? This is the killer. This is the absolute killer.

I’m missing 3 days of the semester. I’m leaving on the 17th, and the semester finishes on the 21st, but there’s a weekend in there, and a Friday on which I don’t have classes. I am not present for the 19th, 20th, and 21st. That’s the big deal. Chances are that a large number of the other professors on campus also are going to be finished when I am, give or take a day. But for those three days, I have had to fill paperwork out, type things, change things, clarify things, and teach a ridiculous number of make-up class hours. I’ve even had to lie about one make-up class, not because I haven’t taught the class an apporpriate number of hours — I have! — but because, you see, I’m leaving three days early and need to get official permission.

I just finished it, and I should be feeling better — I just have a few more days of heavy grading to go, and I’ve gotten this stupidity out of the way — but I don’t feel better. I feel deeply, deeply annoyed. And my good eye, the eye that I am supposed to be resting, is twitching now. I’m sure it’ll be worth it, but right now I want to march into the office of Academic Affairs and yell at someone. I know enough Korean cuss words to do it, too, I’ll bet. I won’t do it, but I want to. I really want to.

Ah well. There’s only ten days till I’m on a plane to Seattle and launching myself into the utter sanity and, yes, compared to this, the utter relaxation of the Clarion West Workshop. I have a feeling the story I’m planning, set in a futuristic pan-Asian city-state for the young, will involve at least one moronic bureaucratic office to be blown up or attacked by bioterrorists or something. At least one.

3 thoughts on “AAAAAAAAAAARGH!

  1. You’re lucky if you don’t have to do makeups for holidays, generally speaking. At Sookdae, we must do holiday makeups, and I just finished my last one a couple of hours ago (this is a Saturday). I also had to make up every single class I missed for my baby’s delivery.

    At some point between now and the end of summer, I want to meet you in person, if possible. I would like your advice on teaching writing classes (all my classes in September will be writing classes). This is something I’ve asked for, as I enjoy writing and think I would like teaching it. Of course, there’ll be a lot of marking. Anyway, if I could also get your assistance when I upgrade to the new WordPress, that would be great, too! (You don’t have to, of course, I’m only asking, and I know that you probably have better things to do with your time this summer.)

  2. Well, that is absolutely retarded. Holding makeup classes for holidays misses the whole point of a holiday: it’s just piling on extra work on days that aren’t officially designated holidays.

    The stupidity of all of this is that if I weren’t leaving three days early, none of this would be an issue. Nobody would be asking whether I taught make-up classes for the holidays. Nobody would be checking whether I taught to the end of the Final Exam period. Hell, most of my students were ever so slightly annoyed that I gave them no days off before/after midterms, and that I didn’t cancel class on the one of two festival days when cancelations were optional (the second day, cancelations were mandatory). I can understand having to make up classes in the middle of the semester, but I absolutely cannot understand making up classes I wouldn’t be teaching because, hey, they’d be done their final exams. Basically, my students have attended more classes than they probably have in other courses within the same department, because of my scrupulousness. And I’ve even made up for the “classes” which will be missed during the three days I’ll be gone during final exams. The only reason the holidays even came up was because I’d totaled the hours and someone counted them up and noticed that holidays fell on some of the class days. The secretary’s advice was to resubmit the document with nothing so specific that it conveyed any more information than, “These are the classes I’ll be missing, these are the dates I’ve had extra classtime to make up for them.” That, and to recopy my gradesheets so that they’re devoid of any attendance info — only record lates and absences, so that it’s not apparent when classes were held or not held. (And now I know why the Korean profs at my previous Uni did that as a rule; they were always absent during weeks 15 and 16 of the semester, and sometimes left as early as week 14, if they could find an excuse for doing so. I don’t think that happens much where I am now, but still, if it helps one avoid the stupidity of makeup classes for national and University holidays, it makes sense. As a note: we had something like 4 holidays in the last three weeks, and making up all those classes would have been next to impossible.)

    Perhaps we can meet in August, when I return. I can definitely give you some advice about teaching writing. As far as upgrading WordPress, I don’t know if I’d be any help: you may notice I’m still running the older version. I’ll probably try upgrade myself when I return, though, and if I do, I’ll definitely give you any advice I can offer.

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