On the first day of school in Busan, South Korea, I stood at the front of my class five minutes before the bell rang waiting to greet my new middle school students. After seven minutes had passed, I was about to go and search for my class when I heard a loud rumble coming from the floor above. Suddenly, three dozen pairs of feet came running into the classroom attached to three dozen pairs of flailing arms and three dozen shouting mouths. Stupefied, I stood frozen and looked on, wide-eyed, as my classroom was ripped apart by thirty-six wild monkeys.
I teach in a rural area of South Korea at a couple of middle schools: one is located about 10 minutes about outside the city and has about 190 students whom I see three days a week; the other school is in the countryside (it’s adjacent to a rice field) and has about 32 students whom I see the other two days a week. The students are 13 to 16 years old and have varied backgrounds and competencies. While some are from white- or blue-collar families, others are from families that farm. What’s it like teaching these students? (more…)