Wednesday, December 5, 2007

inside the box

i'm not sure if it's just because my students are so young (so there's a cognitive developmental explanation) or if it's because my students are korean (so there's a cultural explanation) but they seem to have this overwhelming epistemological framework that mandates: there is ONLY ONE RIGHT WAY to do anything.

i have noticed this in my past few weeks here. it takes a LONG time to convince them otherwise. For example, in writing the letter "O". i went clockwise. they said the korean 이응 (ㅇ) goes counterclockwise. i said it didn't matter. and they didn't know what to do. as long as it looks like an O in the end, i really don't think it DOES matter?

they are ALWAYS confused by my "7"s. which i cross. i forget where or why or when i picked this up, but i cross my 7s. and altho sometimes i've stopped doing it here when i'm writing it big on the board for something (it's just easier) it looks weird and naked to me (not all 7s, just the ones that i write). the kids think it's a 9, or a weird ㅋ (키엌). or something else.

today there was a tussle over the correct way to write a "K". with the 2 slanty lines meeting at ONE point on the vertical one, OR with the bottom one coming off the top one. i said they're both correct and the kids were puzzled.

even when i was teaching "q" the worksheet had a little thing on the tail that comes up to the right at a 45 degree angle. and the teachers wited it out before photocopying it so the kids wouldn't learn the "wrong" q for their english hakwons.

i dont understand WHY things are so standardized. i HAVE noticed before, the PECULIAR similarity between ALL koreans handwriting. both their korean, english, and numbers. my mom, other ajummas, my korean friends' parents' handwriting: they all look EXACTLY the same. amazing what this rote memorization writing lines educational system will do to you.

i stylize my writing bc it's fun and im lazy so it's easier to round my 기역 and 미음s and im vain so i like to feel different. i was quickly told here that my korean handwriting is "wrong" and i should go buy some handwriting workbooks bc it looked sily for my "adult ideas" to be scribbled in 한글 that was ashamed to be 한글.

handwriting is just one place i've noticed. probably the most prominent bc its so easy to see the conformity in practice. but i've come across it in a lot of other places, too. and sometimes it's amusing. sometimes it's frustrating, and sometimes it's just an interesting observation. but ALWAYS it's odd and noteworthy to me. esp. when i grew up so much more blase and in a "do what you want how you want as long as it doesn't harm anyone else" environment (home AND school).

how different would i be had i grown up here?


Jacy said...

Hey Christine, it's Jacy. I'm glad you wrote this post because only a few days ago did I realize that my kids were equally as confused by my 7's (which I cross) and my R's which I make all fancy. I also put a line though my zero's and they were lost.

I thought the lines through the numbers were a standardized way of making them NOT look like 4's, 9's or 6's. Oh well.

Jessica said...

i think it's somewhat cognitive, but mostly cultural. i learned in my psychobio class that kids at the elementary age still dont have all their neurons in the rite places and aren't all developed (i forget the exact place in the brain at the moment) so that it's harder for them to realize and accept a shift in rules/standards. But i think it's mostly cuz korea loves loves loves standardizing the people, and cuz koreans are so afraid of being wrong that anything slightly different from the "standard" scares/confuses them. i'm just glad we didnt grow up there(after reading this entry) ^^ love you lots and hope you're alrite!