Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Danielle's "Ruvery" School

Today is the day I finally tell you about teaching in Korea. It's funny that I haven't really mentioned much about our teaching experiences even though that is the reason we are here. I guess there were just too many other things to talk about like apples and trains and food but now is the time and it's going to be glorious! Today will be about Danny's school and then maybe in a few weeks we'll talk about my school.

Before I get into the specifics at Danny's school, let me explain why school in Korea is really different. I'll try to give you a short list of why:
1. They rank high schools like they rank universities at home so Danny's is not so great (#4 out of 5) and mine is the best one in the province. (I know I am very lucky.)
2. Most high schools are seperated girls and boys
3. There are only 3 grades in high school: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. They call them that but basically they are the same at sophomores, juniors, and seniors... we only teach 1st and 2nd graders though.
4. They go to school 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday. Yuck. Thankfully we only have to teach M-F but regular teachers are in school for long hours
5. They also go to school from about 8 am to 11 pm at night. WHHHHAAAAA????!!! I know before you fall off your chair, let me break it down, even though it doesn't make it any better... The students get to school and usually have "supplementary" class before real class starts at 9. Then they have class till about 6 pm. Then they have "optional" study time from about 7-11pm which isn't really optional time at all. On Saturdays the schedule is a little easier because they only have to be in school from 8-2pm so that makes it ok...NOT.

Some of the following pictures are from my (Danny) school's Sports day. Most Schools have one or two sports days a year. We've mentioned before that Koreans don't do anything half heartedly and sports day is another example of that. Each homeroom class had banners and T-shirts professionally made.
Here is a picture of my adopted group...for the day.
In the Morning one of the third graders in this class said he wanted to trade shirts with me, so of course I did, but being that he has the typical body shape of most Koreans and I of most westerners my shirt was snug for sure.
Here is one of my coteachers with some of his third grade homeroom class. Since Koreans are crazy about brand name thing, most of the teams were named for a famous fashion brand in Korea. This was team Kappa.

At the end of the days games was the awards ceremony, which I found to be particularly interesting because winning teams were not given metals or ribons, or even cash prizes. The winning teams were given huge packs of toilet paper.
Since the bathrooms at the school don't have toilet paper, it can be a precious commodity and I have suspicions that the students even use it as some sort of currency, like cigarettes in prison.

Here I am with my main coteacher and the reson why this post is called Danielle's ruvery school. Here are the resons:
1. On the day that I was picked up by my coteacher for the first time in February he called me Danielle, (Korean pronunciation of Daniel). I explained to him that Daniel is my legal name but that everyone calls me Danny. Something was lost in translation, or he decided that I didn't know what I was talking about, so from that day on I have been referred to in my school as Danielle.
2. Benny is my coteacher's name and he refers to all of his students as his "ruvery students." Koreans struggle to pronounce the letter "L."

One day a few months ago Katy came by my school to visit since she had never been. Being that I teach in an all-boys high school, they don't see females too often...Plus Katy is HOT!!! That's right I said it. My wife is hot. So as you can see there are heads poking out of a majority of the windows all with the intention of sneaking a peak at the celebrity female that Danielle teacher is married to.

Every day the students clean the school from 3:00-3:20. That sounds like a great idea right?...well in theory, yes.
But try to picture 500 high school boys cleaning anything well...Yeah. The school is not filthy, but I wouldn't call it clean either.
These are the brooms/mops that I often see my students dragging down the hallways with them. As you can probably imagine those bristly plastic sticks at the end of the broom really do a dynamite job of cleaning in the hands of a 16 year old boy.

Here I am in a stairway at my school that where I have had to get used to ducking as I pass by multiple times a day. Contrary to the stereotype, Koreans are not all that short, but apparently a very tiny person constructed the stairways at my school.

My school has an English Only wing that I teach a few classes in each week. Most schools have some sort of classroom like this. The Korean school system does not spare any expense on these rooms. Mine has a big flat screen tv. An interactive computer screen and surround sound.

And here I am teaching one of my first grade classes. They all look so attentive in this picture, but don't be fooled by the innocent look. This year I've learned that it doesn't matter if they're from the U.S. or Korea. Teenagers are teenagers and these students can be trouble makers for sure.


  1. We were beginning to thing the school didn't exist. Well, not me. You know--other people. I, of course, would never doubt you. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Such an interesting post. I feel like I was just schooled (no pun intended) ;-)