Sunday, November 06, 2005

What Happens When I Keep My Children Back

I'm often amazed by the improvement that happens after I "fail" my kids. My hagwon uses a system of numbers and colors to organize its curriculum. So, for instance, a kid in 3 Red would ordinarily progress to 3 Green after his two month term finishes. Sometimes, although rarely, we put a kid up a whole level, not just a color level. Conversely, every month I hold at least one kid from each class at the same level. It depends on the child's ability, of course. In my 3pm MWF class I have six students; three of them I taught before, two of them last term. They weren't ready to move up, so I kept them back. In the girl's case, she lacked focus. Her writing, although beautiful, was much too slow. But most importantly, her listening comprehension was far behind the others. The two boys were both inattentive. One of them, the one I had last term, was actually quite bright, but he just didn't want to pay attention.

Anyway, this term, that class is wonderful. The little girl is now Speedy Gonzalez when she's writing (and it's still neat!). Shee Eun has improved a lot already at listening and speaking; I've helped by directing some of the more difficult questions to her fairly consistently. I love being able to gently push a student like this. It only works if the student herself is ready. My little friend, Tae Young, a real cutie prone to making loud, strange noises, has improved a lot, too, both at speaking and writing. I've always known he was bright; his only problem was a serious lack of attentiveness last term. Finally, there's Ha Yeon, the only question mark at the moment. He's routinely late, so he always misses the start of the lesson. But there's some improvement there, too.

In a way, I feel kind of badly about expecting such little people to be serious about their study. But I don't think I'm a monster, nor do I think I'm unreasonable. Still, children don't have much time to be children in this country, what with all the after-school schools they go to. I try to keep this in mind when I'm teaching them.


Blogger San Nakji said...

I am amazed by how passionate you seem to be about teaching. There are very few like you in Korea. It is a wonder to see! Where are you getting married? If you haven't decided a place, I have a great place where I was married...

8:22 PM  
Blogger San Nakji said...

D'uh, it's only a month away, you probably have decided... I should learn to read...

8:24 PM  
Blogger Aly said...

I like your blog, especially the "best of" section with the in and out of Seoul places you've visited. I'll be refering to it when I need a new place to visit. Thanks!

4:49 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Thank you, San Nakji for your congratulations! Yes, the place has been chosen. We're getting married in a hotel.

Thank you for your compliment, Aly. Is that really you in the picture? I'm kind of surprised that you'd link to English Spectrum; as you may be aware, there was a major controversy surrounding that site some time ago. Anyway, welcome. I'll keep an eye on your blog, and I hope you'll feel free to keep an eye on mine.

5:09 PM  

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