Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Second Circle of Report Card Hell

Well, Mom, I'm glad you appreciate my "moxie" in writing honest report cards despite suspicions that parents would be upset.  Unfortunately, some of the report cards haven't reached the parents, yet.  And they won't.  Not until I write to the parents' that none other than the sun shines out of their offspring's ass.

It began early today.  I don't have a 3:30 class on Tuesdays, so I usually spend that time in "my" office either working or replying to emails and such.  So, today I was at my computer when my principle came in holding a report card.  She proceeded to tell me that Paul's mother would be worried if she saw the bad marks on his report.  She doesn't speak English very well, so I responded, "She should be worried."  Though Paul is a smart kid, he is a terrible student.  He never does his homework and he drags other kids into his behavior issues in class.  When my principle felt she was not getting through to me, she through in "By the way, his mother is important."  I didn't even respond.  How does one respond to that?  She left me alone for the rest of the day and I thought it was over.

As I was packing my things to leave after my last class, she came in and said something that included the word "captain."  She uses that word in place of principle.  I told her I didn't understand, she left and came back with the phone; it was Julia.  Julia wanted to talk to me about the report cards.  Apparently, it wasn't just Paul's that was the problem.  Julia went on to say that she hoped I understood that Yoon's is a business.  And that the parents' need hope.  Hope?  Koreans want their country to be strong.  They want to be able to do more big business with the West.  Well, if they want future generations to fit in with Westerners, they should start by having them earn their grades.  These kids are handed everything.  The busy work they're given to make them feel like hard workers follows them into adulthood when they get a job standing around in HomeMart.

Long story short, no less than thirty report cards came home with me tonight.  Most of them are B averages.  I have until Friday to do them.  I'm so angry and defeated, I don't know what to do but concede.  Unfortunately, what they don't see is that I actually care about these kids and their futures.  They'll never learn if we spoon feed them and never correct their mistakes.

On a lighter note, Ian's students randomly gave him candy today.  And they all wanted to chat him up, so he didn't get any down time.  And we started running again today.  It felt great.

I'm sorry for writing two negative posts in a row, but things aren't so great on this side of the world right now.

We leave around 10am to go run, so I'll be around online from about 8am until then.  Have a great Tuesday.  Good night!


  1. Don't forget that Julia said that my report cards were awesome. I'm so good that I don't even have to show them to people, that's right. I forgot them at home today and she still said they were really good. Hells yeah!

  2. Well, we've always said that you have all the good luck in the family, Ian. :)

    Do the knee braces help with the running?

  3. So sorry to hear that. Maybe I did too good of a job making sure you understand how important it is to stand up for what is right.
    I think in this case you should just consed that you are not going to change their system. It is not failure on your part, but on theirs. In the long run it will make your experience better, and your life easier. Enjoy the kids, teach them all you can, but lie to the parents.
    At least you tried, Now just do what will make your life easier.
    Hope the rest of the week goes better.

  4. Are there and Zen temples there? You may need to take up some Zen practice to avoid getting an ulcer.

  5. Hey Casey. I am sorry you are having such a rough time. I personally wouldn't feel like I was lying if I had to give those kids good grades. I would chalk it up to cultural differences and moral relativism. You, of course, think of grades as an accurate assesment of work done. I think there, and especially in a money making extra curricular school, they might see them like more of an advertisement. A good grade is like saying "your kid can excel in English at our school. Tell all your friends to enroll their kids. They can write their checks out to...."

    It still doesn't make it easy to deal with of course. Hang in there. It sounds like you are doing a great job and genuinely care about your students. In the end, that will make more of a difference than what their report card says.

    We love you!

  6. All your commentors have good points about why you should concede. You should follow their advice.
    With that said, if it were me, I would refuse to change them. I sort of thrive on being right no matter what anyone else says. Maybe I like a little drama.
    Know that I feel your pain and anger. Seriously, I am wanting to come over there, across continents and oceans, and tear into Julia right now. Just for you.
    Keep writing about your negative days. Writing is catharsis.

  7. Thanks, guys. It just doesn't feel fair to award kids who are so disrespectful to me just because I'm a foreigner. I truly believe that grades should be earned. But, I've no other choice.

    Chelsea, I tried to refuse. I said, "No, these students don't even have bad averages. If they don't do their homework, they won't get A's or B's, they'll get C's or D's." It didn't work. These people have a way using the language barrier to their advantage. But, I appreciate your camaraderie.

    This is just another stone in my drowning sack, really.