Monday, September 18, 2006

hygh skul teachR

One of my frosh decided to give me an attitude today, so she got the smackdown.

Everyone knows, from the first day of the semester, that I do not tolerate cell phones going off in class. This is basic politeness in a Western classroom (perhaps that's changed in the past few years; I hope not), but not, apparently, in Korean classrooms. I deal with the cell phone issue at the beginning of every semester, and with most of my students, all it takes is an initial illustration of the boundaries for compliance to ensue.

Not so with one high school student in my 10am FroshEng class, whose phone went off. I immediately asked her to turn the phone off, whereupon she simply closed it and put it in her pencil case. I lumbered over to her and said, in Korean, "Turn the cell phone off now. Next time, I'm taking your phone. From now on, you listen to what I say." And then I switched back to English.

This girl will doubtless hate me for the rest of the semester, but you can bet she won't step out of line again. Since I spoke in Korean, everyone else was put on notice about what I'm willing to do to maintain order.

I don't enjoy being authoritarian, but I won't hesitate to respond to a challenge to my authority, however slight the challenge might be. Luckily, life isn't too difficult for me, seeing as I'm an 18-stone man working at a women's university. Things might be different were I teaching a class of American high school boys. Even though I'm not teaching at an American high school now (thank God), today's little flap sure brought back memories.


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