Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Things you can't know

I had the students write many essays this term about problems that children in developing countries have. I told them about children I knew and gave them some numbers. Their writing has improved significantly. For the last class, I had them do research, then write longer essays and finally present the material to the class. I use this to help the students write, but also to get them to think for themselves.

One big part of teaching is anticipating the problems that students will have and developing lessons which will overcome these issues. If it is your own country, you do it naturally. When you are in new to a country, it is really difficult to anticipate the problems. Given the similarities between the Japanese and Korean education systems, I rely on my experience teaching in Japan to anticipate problems.

I knew that the students and the teachers focus on the university entrance exams. What I did not know is the students have no experience doing any sort of research. I suppose the scope of the entrance exam is limited and the teachers are preparing the students for this exam...hence no need to do any sort of wide ranging research. In Japan the kids had much more experience with this and the students would be able to do research with no problems.

I gave the students some resources to do the research, but given their limited experience and dramatically less information available in Korean compared to English, the research was destined to be either non-existent or low quality.

A few students did a great job, but the vast majority did not. The students will get some benefit, but it is really disappointing to work a whole term towards a project and have the project fall short of your expectations.

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