Friday, December 31, 1999

another one bites the dust

[Originally posted at 7:39PM, January 9, 2015.]

You may recall that I had written about That Fucking Bitch, who ended up leaving Dongguk only a few months into my time at this school. Her replacement—let's call her Bitchette—was equally unpleasant and basically picked up right where FB had left off. In happy news that I received today, I learned that Bitchette will also be leaving. The steady drain of unpleasant personalities from our department's main office is a good sign, and seeing as I'm going to be starting this semester at rock bottom in terms of my own status and prestige, things can only go up from here. I have a good feeling about this coming semester.

That said, I'm pretty much set on leaving Dongguk for the Golden Goose come summertime. As I'd written before, one of the criteria by which I planned to decide whether to stay or go was the question of how welcome I felt at this school. Given the repudiation I just received from my students, I'm not inclined to stay beyond the one-year mark, especially as I'm going to be teaching the same reading/writing courses in the fall, assuming I'm re-signed on a new contract. Teaching the same courses would set me up for the same abuse, and as far as I'm concerned, once is enough. And there's another sense in which I've never quite felt welcome here: I've always been bothered by the circumstances under which I was hired. You may recall the story: Dongguk had interviewed eight of us finalists, and FB, on the day she told me I'd been hired, confessed that I was not one of the hiring committee's top three. One of those in the top three decided, for whatever reason, not to come to Dongguk, which left an empty spot that needed to be filled. I was Lucky Number Four,* so FB called me. I therefore wasn't hired in the most auspicious way. Bad omen.

Over the course of the past semester, my relationship with the main office has been prickly at best. The ladies there make tons of mistakes in their emails, often sending out announcements and directives that border on the nonsensical thanks to their shaky mastery of English and their apparent refusal to proofread their missives before hitting "send." I get annoyed by these stupid and unnecessary gaffes, just as I was annoyed by the whole ID-card incident (the office fucked up the programming of my card four times), and all of this annoyance tends to build up. Another strike against Dongguk.

So I'll ride out this coming semester. There's a chance that my bosses might call me in for a worried chat regarding my evaluation scores, but I plan to tell them openly that I'm going to leave, so they needn't worry that I'll be dragging down the department. I have a lot to say about the Korean education system and its faults, including how it twists the kids' minds into thinking they know what good and bad teaching actually are. It's a shame they rejected a student-centered style because they're lazy and used to being spoon-fed information, but that's the culture. Meanwhile, I take reassurance in the idea that, in most of the establishments I've taught at, my evaluations have been high. So: is it me? I think not.

I'll be making some changes to my teaching style this coming semester, but nothing major. I'm going to keep hammering away at the student-centered approach, even if it changes nothing, because I know this approach is objectively better than the one the students are used to. It's too bad the students themselves don't realize this.

*The number four is unlucky in East Asia, as the Chinese character for "four" rhymes with the character for "death."


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