Thursday, September 07, 2006

the fuck of the Irish

How's this for a shitty afternoon and evening?

1. My supervisor tells us that, thanks to reduced numbers in our normal program, the Freshman English program is likely to be greatly expanded to generate revenue. This means teaching high schoolers on a regular basis, a task I have tried to avoid.

2. More immediately, my schedule starting next Monday is going to be nine hours heavier, not six: because of the number of incoming students,* we four teachers will have to handle an unexpectedly heavy teaching load. This means that I and another teacher will be managing an additional two-hour class during the MWF afternoons. Given our office's history of finding clever ways to skimp on overtime, I expect to be paid little to nothing for the extra work.

3. In a bid to comfort myself after hearing this depressing news, I went to the local ATM to drag out some money for a meal, plus some extra cash to shop for necessities. I then went to a nearby restaurant, had myself a decent meal, reached into my wallet to pay... and there wasn't enough cash for the meal. I realized I must have left the cash sitting on, or next to, the ATM. After grabbing more cash from a different ATM and paying for my meal, I hustled back to the first ATM. As expected: the cash was long gone. That's $50 down the fucking drain. While I don't freak out about cash loss the way my mother does, I'm nevertheless pissed at my own stupidity.

4. After glumly trudging back to my place, I stripped off my nasty socks in order to wash my feet in the bathroom sink... and the water that came out of the sink was brown. I haven't seen brown water like that since I was living in a yeogwan in the 1990s. I let the water run a bit (the water was brown only when I wanted hot water-- of course), and it eventually cleared up. I did the same with the shower head to make sure I wouldn't get ambushed by brownness later on. All clear. For now. I'll have to be careful in the morning, when I'm half-awake.

My schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then, is likely to be a marathon running from 7:50am to about 3PM with only a half-hour break for lunch (not a bad schedule if you're sitting on your ass in an office, but it's a bit tiring when you teach the way I do: energetically). At least I can take comfort in the comparatively short duration of the FroshEng program: it's only for five weeks,** not the full twelve.

*The explanation for this was hilariously bizarre. My supervisor came upstairs to our office and told me that we normally accept a complement of about eighty students when doing FroshEng, but that "the computer was somehow letting more students in, and we couldn't just say 'no' to the thirty extra registrants." I've never heard of a human staff held in thrall by a computer in any scenario outside of science fiction, but apparently my supervisor is convinced the computer's word is law and cannot be overidden.

I hate to say this, but I'm pretty sure my supervisor isn't being straightforward. More likely, this is what happened:

We used to have a staff of five teachers (four expats plus one near-native anglophone), but now we're down to four. Every time I've taught FroshEng, I've always had over twenty students in a class, and so have my colleagues. What this means is that we've always received about 110 or so students for the FroshEng program. I suspect that my supervisor, in planning our FroshEng schedule this semester, was still thinking in terms of "20-25 students per teacher" without considering the fact that we are now short one teacher. Easier, then, to cook up some "computer glitch" excuse than to say, "Whoops-- we goofed on the math."

**And as I blogged earlier, that's a joke: what, exactly, will a motley group of high school seniors learn in five weeks? That breaks down to only 15 actual hours of instruction, which is not even a single, 24-hour day.


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