In which I compare my old job in New York with my current job in Korea

Saturday February 20, 2010

Teaching English in South Korea is so good compared to teaching math in New York! Even though I'm actually teaching more hours per day, with less break or prep time and less "professional development" etc... The curriculum is all provided. One of my main conclusions after all my teaching stuff in NY and now here is that teaching and curriculum development are two SEPARATE jobs. Asking one person to do both is ridiculous. There's NO WAY one person can do as good a job as a whole team of people working full time to make good materials. I also have my own classroom in Korea, which I never had in New York. In New York I had a cart. Also, in Korea there's a computer in my classroom, and it always works. There's a digital projector that is installed in the ceiling. Attendance and grades are all entered right into the computer, and the system JUST WORKS. Yet another major difference: class size. In New York I taught a class of 35 students. There were actually 36 on roster, even though 35 is the legal limit, as I understand it. Classes that big are preposterous. If you're going to have a class that big you might as well have one really good lecturer make a DVD and then just play the DVD for the kids. Here our biggest classes are 15 or 16 students; this term my smallest class is 5 students and my biggest is 10. I can keep track of that many kids. I can see what they're doing, I can help them individually, and they can ask any questions they have, pretty much any time. It's the right way to do it.

Of course, in New York I was in a public school, and here I'm in a private "academy" (no good English word really, a "hagwon" - after-school private school). Public schools here in Korea are not without problems, as I understand it, and they routinely have crazy big class sizes, as high as 40 I'm told. The criticism of schools like mine is that the kids are being worked too hard - they come after school, get a bunch more homework, lose their childhoods, blah blah blah. They learn a lot of English. It's crazy how good these kids are at a totally foreign language, at a crazy young age. We get some pretty smart kids, too. The other criticism is that only the rich can afford to send their kids to my school.

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