Monday, July 13, 2015


Almost all of my eval scores are in. We're waiting for one... more... student to get a fucking move on and fill out the online evaluation so I can finalize my score and see my ranking (yes, we profs are ranked, from 1 to 44). From what I've seen thus far, I did about 20% better, this time around, than I did my first semester at Dongguk.

But even though these kids liked me a lot more, they were still parsimonious with their scores, and some of the complaints were just plain asinine. In almost every case, no matter what the complaint was about, I could respond with, "And why the fuck didn't you bring this up during your THREE CONSULTATIONS WITH ME, genius?"

I'll tell you why: cowardice. As expat teachers point out time and again, Korean students are way, way behind Westerners when it comes to social skills. They have no idea how to approach a teacher like a mature human being and have an intelligent, constructive discussion about grades, procedures, and all the rest. Korean students, instead, think their lot is to internalize all difficulties and suffer, which is also stupid. Unnecessary suffering is unnecessary. But to make things worse, the kids don't suffer silently: no, they complain. They grumble. They gripe. And they make no fucking sense because, in 99.99999% of the cases, they are the authors of their own suffering.

The positive comments were generally nice, if a bit vague. I felt a twinge whenever a student complimented my Korean skills: if a supervisor were to read over my students' comments, they might get the impression that I spent my class time doing nothing but lecturing in Korean, which is as far from the truth as can be. At most, I said a few sentences here, a few sentences there—sometimes to tell a joke, sometimes to explain something more quickly than I could have done in simple English. I've justified my use of Korean many times before, so I won't go back into that here.

Other positive comments pointed out my sense of humor, my energy, the way I led an exciting class that didn't do the usual thing—the kinds of comments I enjoy reading. Many students said they liked the round-robin format (a few cowards said they didn't... they could have said something earlier, so it's their damn fault for keeping silent until it was too late); quite a few students expressed appreciation for the free-form activities we would do during the final hour of our three-hour classes.

I doubt that the lone holdout who hasn't filled in the eval will affect my overall average. Because of that student, I can't see my final ranking yet, but that's not a big deal because I'm not that interested in my ranking, anyway. Maybe I'd be greedier if I knew my eval scores were in the high 90s, the way they were in the good old days, but as things stand, I don't give a fuck. Suffice it to say that, eval-wise, I did better this semester than last semester, and by a large margin, too.

And that's it for university teaching! The only teaching I'll be doing for the foreseeable future will be KMA-related (my evals average 95-97% there), and that's going to be, at most, once a month. I'm going to miss certain things about teaching college-level English, but there will also be many things I won't miss at all. Grade-grubbing bastards, for one.


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