Thursday, August 03, 2006

like pulling teeth

I taught my first drama class today.


This isn't going to be easy.

Background: it was decided before the term started that I would once again be the drama teacher. I agreed that our class would be meeting only during the second month of our two-month term, on Thursday afternoons. Meetings would last an hour. At the time, we had no idea how many people would want to join the class. As it turned out, we've got seven on the roll; five showed up today, and two were sick.

One of the problems that plague drama classes here at Smoo is that kids seem not to take their non-credit and intensive courses seriously enough to attend them with much consistency. We've got some dedicated students, but far too many have no sense of obligation toward their teachers, the courses, and their own learning. It's well known among expats here that college is generally viewed as the blowing-off period of one's life before it's Back to the Grind in some soul-crushing corporate hell (not so different from the American story, actually, though I tend to think American undergrads take their studies more seriously than Koreans on the whole).

To that extent, I understand why so many Korean students approach college with such laxity. But it still pisses me off, especially when it fucks up well-laid plans or breaks up the established rhythm of a class. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a student explain multiple absences by saying, "Uh... I overslept." In America, students at least have the good grace to lie about why they didn't make it into class. An American student won't admit he was piss-drunk and had spent the morning sopping up vomit pools with borrowed bathroom towels: he'll say something like, "Uh... my sister got into a serious car accident last night and I had to go home for a day." The lie at least indicates a sense of guilt about not having attended class; the blithe admission that one had missed class because sleep was more important is, arguably, more insulting. My students don't see it that way, of course.

Today's drama class, with our small group of five students, included two students who were silent almost the entire time. That kills me: why the hell would these girls volunteer to join this class if they're not planning on saying anything? Getting any reaction out of them was like pulling teeth. It happened eventually: the Quiet Ones ended up making some significant contributions to our discussion as we fleshed out a skit scenario and brainstormed some of the plot elements. In the meantime, though, two other students (they were from the more advanced classes) dominated the discussion.

The hour ended fairly quickly. We elected to meet again on Monday (not a normal day for drama) in order to tie up some loose ends with the scenario. I'll draft a skit soon after that, and we'll start actual rehearsal on August 10th. The skit will be one of the events during the end-of-term ceremony on August 25th. Perhaps I'll have some photos for you then. Though it took some time to come up with, I generally like the scenario my girls thought up: a feminist parody of the Cinderella story. More on this later, perhaps.


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