Thursday, June 18, 2015

one final spasm

I've got thirty-eight tests to grade and record tonight. Tomorrow, early in the morning, I head off to the Seoul campus to take care of all my end-of-term obligations in one final paroxysm of effort. Tomorrow, I have to:

1. turn in a letter of resignation.
2. turn in a copy of my bank book.
3. pay a W300,000 tax-related fee (bullshit—no other college has ever asked for this).
4. enter my kids' grades into the system and publish them.
5. upload my "portfolio" and write up my end-of-semester observations.

That last item is a weird ritual that some Korean colleges engage in: teachers must write up a sort of self-evaluation that covers how classes were taught, what seemed successful, and what might be done differently next time. As I had done back in Daegu, I asked the Dongguk Seoul campus staff whether anybody bothers to read our self-evals. The overwhelming consensus: no one does, so this is purely a masturbatory exercise. The "portfolio" refers to a set of electronic documents that we must upload to the campus database—documents like copies of our midterms and finals, a color version of our attendance sheets, etc.

Although I'll miss my students, I'm happy to leave Dongguk inasmuch as it's an overly bureaucratic school. The amount of paperwork that's required of us teachers is ridiculous, and it serves little to no purpose. And that's why I'm going to try to get everything done tomorrow by 6PM, after which I'll be free and clear to begin my new life as a (gasp) non-teacher.

But you never know: as the characters said repeatedly in "The Bridge on the River Kwai," there's always one more thing to do. I have a sinking feeling that Dongguk University, with its unceasingly grasping, Lovecraftian tentacles, won't let go of me quite that easily.


1 comment:

Scott said...

About the self-evaluation thing, yeah, it's very likely that no one else reads them. The argument could be made, however, that just the act of doing a self-evaluation can lead to some serious reflection which in turn can lead to improved teaching, which is the supposed end goal of self-evaluations anyway. Still, if the professors suspect that no one is going to read it, many won't take it seriously. In a well-run program (ha!) the director would meet the professors individually and discuss the evaluations (among other things). In my experience in Korea, that has never happened.

As for the portfolio,I suppose if there were student complaints and admin wanted to review your teaching they might take a look at it. Otherwise, it's probably just required on the off chance that the Korean government, when inspecting universities, will randomly select your department and your class for review. They look for evidence that the standards of teaching and grading are legit.

So in the big picture its probably a good thing that these kinds of policies are in place. Still, considering that for the you, the individual teacher, there is less than a 1% chance that someone might actually look at what you take great pains to submit at the end of the semester, it's hard to feel happy about it.