Loser (외톨이)

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So I’m a loser…because I already failed to keep up with the postings!

I was so busy yesterday including my first day for teaching Day Care.

So quickly to cover yesterday’s topic of “politics” (which I have changed to modern day issues/why the world sucks at times) it actually coincides with my issue of teaching my first “real” class this year so I will actually combine today’s ramblings with the “why the world sucks at times” topic.

 

Where to begin …well today was my first real day of teaching for the new year. Considering how well the kids behaved and how good they all seemed during the orientation day, I figured that would carry over. Nope. I had a trio of male students who were constantly turning around in their seats, ignoring me, a new co teacher who was very confused the entire time, girls who refused to speak louder than how loud a dementor speaks (hint, they don’t) which all lead up to a horrible class.

Oh and my new co teacher forgot to tell me BEFORE class that I have a developmentally delayed student (actually I have two, but only one in this class).

Of course it started with a slow internet/computer-because I’m teaching in a new classroom this year not of my choosing I get stuck with the supplies in it as well. and when I’m used to a brand new TV, a fast working computer in a large spacious room, the old cramped room with its off color TV screen and internet slow as balls computer is like slow torture.

It melted down from there and the class never recovered. The students became restless, didn’t want to respond, and my co teacher was so lost. She has specifically asked me about the lesson the day before and I thought she understood…but nothing went right. We didn’t finish the lesson we were on and as typical per Korean teachers (or at least some I work with it seems) she is reluctant to do anything beyond asking them to be quiet.

But the part that really made my day shit was the fact that I scolded this mentally challenged student in front of his peers and my co teacher said nothing. I would rather her have stopped me in the middle .

I assumed he was like any other 5th grade boy who was slowly starting to become a brat. He wouldn’t answer a question, wouldn’t look at me, laughed at inappropriate times so I assumed he was just a rude student. (There are male students that are like this and aren’t mentally challenged…just badly mannered)

I haven’t been around people with disabilities such as this before so I didn’t see any signs or obvious behavior that could have indicated it to me.

When class finally ended my co felt it was relevant ONLY then to tell me “yeah he’s retarded (they still use that term here) and can’t read, or write korean or make a sentence…just words”.

Now…how am I supposed to feel? First was shock and disbelief and then came the regret and anger.I don’t think he was mentally aware that I was upset at him -thankfully-but it doesn’t make the humiliation and sadness any less.

This brings me to the topic of “disability stigmas ” in Korea.

Now I’m from the West, and yes there are still people who are ignorant and find that they don’t need to use PC terms. Kids still call each other “retards” or “retarded” when they are doing something dumb.

But I would like to think that we are at least a little more evolved in dealing with mental illness. There is no longer the stigma of seeing a therapist (at least from what I’ve seen) and it’s encouraged. There are special classes for children with learning disabilites, or any disability really. Yes there are asshole kids who make fun of them. And  it might seem like a negative idea to separate them from the others.

But if their levels are so far behind the others, it’s no benificial or helpful for any party involved. And that’s where I’m struggling.

My students are in 5th grade, but my slow student has the mentality of a student below kindergarten.  He can’t read or write Korean, and can only form words, not sentences. I think (MY Unqualified opinion) that he would benefit more in a school that can help him learn at a pace that is created for his needs.

While yes, he shouldn’t be treated any differently and my other students don’t bully him or make fun of him, it’s not doing anything for him being in the class.

He isn’t doing anything that could engage his attention or make him feel included. If perhaps he was only a grade or two below, I could give him extra help -last year’s class had several students that needed extra time, or personal attention during work in class that I was more than happy to give.

But I think it’s important to continue his educational growth, social growth, in an environment that he can do so freely. I rarely say I don’t like a student or don’t want them in my class (though there are a select few from last year I was happy so see walk out the door at the end) and never for having a lower skill in English. I’ve found that some of my most rewarding and learning moments were working with children whose English was not as good.

But because Korea has such a negative image for people who have mentally disabilities and physical ones as well, I don’t see a school wanting to “waste” money on finding space, teachers, or resources for mentally challenged students.

Now there are cases that classes of students take care of their own. They support and try to engage slower learning students-I’ve seen that in my own classes. I already have a student in my 5-2 class that wants to help his friend with understanding English directions. Even last year my girl student who was a little slow had her seat partner always try to engage at least a little. And I think if the student is able to function in a positive and growing way then its nothing but a good thing for the student and the rest of the class.

However, in certain cases such as my one student  I think he needs a safe environment where he can engage. Some people will say “oh you just don’t want to deal with him”….that’s not the case. I always look out for my students-they are at a vulnerable and impressionable age. I will have to teach my student because he has no where else to go. And I will happily do it to the best of my ability-but I think it’s in HIS best interest to be in a special program. And with Korea’s current image of mental instability, he isn’t allowed to get the help and education he deserves.

Even for those of you who have applied for Korea’s EPIK program…they ask if you have ever been diagnosed with mental illness (including depression).  Now I understand why they ask that-we are working with children. But at the same time, there is medication and therapy that have been successful for many people.But it’s such a negative thing, I’ve heard you are immediately rejected.

Another case would be my old colleague who passed away last year. She had been struggling with depression but the topic is such a taboo that she wound up taking her own life. She had been having so many problems in the home, had no one to talk about it with, and no where else to turn. She couldn’t divorce her husband because of her depression-she would lose custody of her two kids as well.

 

Though America still has many issues with learning how to provide for people who need extra help, Korea is much further along behind. And this is the case with other things like gay rights, race (though, this is highly contested by many-myself included). Yes there are many things that America still sucks at, but Korea isn’t perfect either though at times it seems like it, especially when I compare to what is happening to the country now-racism, Donald Drumpf as president etc. But there are those rare occasions America does get things right (like NFL).

Moving on to….Music Wednesday:

Last week was Mamamoo-I hope you listened to it and love it just as much as I do-seriously.

This week is ASTRO-they are a newly debuted group that has a decent following from what I’ve been told by some of my friends. I think it’s because their predebut had a big following. Also they were in a web drama as well.

I actually came across them a while back in Myeongdong during the summer.  I guess they were promoting the new web series and were performing some songs.

They debuted…last month? Anyway their album is cute and fresh.

The title track is “Hide and Seek”. I really like it.  It’s got that spring/summer/warm feeling that artists lately seem to be going for (see BAP, JJCC) as the winter starts to fade.

The MV is really cute-it looks like part of it was filmed in Jeju as well. There are times that the cuteness is even too much for me-and I love cute concepts.

I don’t know their names yet and might not get to that for a little while at least. But my friends have already picked out their biases -older fans beware, their youngest was a Y2K baby.

There is also part that reminds me of a school yard chant which is a little annoying . But other than that the songs flows together nicely, plus the really cute intro song they play. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the whole album yet sadly. I bought it on the same day that I bought BAP and Mamamoo so it’s taken a bit of a back seat but from what I’ve heard on the trailer for the album it all sounds upbeat.

Now I don’t mind a dark concept here and there (I mean hello, I’m a major VIXX fan ) but with the weather warming up (kind of ) and Spring officially debuting in another week and a half, I’m looking forward to that fresh feel that I know a lot of groups are going to be putting out. Not to mention once summer hits.

So enjoy or don’t enjoy.

 

 

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