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School Swap Korea

In this documentary three Welsh teens fly to Seoul where they will experience three grueling days in a Korean high school.

I knew Korean students were pushed to excel and studied long hours but this documentary horrified me. I wish I knew more about the exact content on the tests that we were seen how the teachers actually teach. Both of those elements would have made for a stronger film, but we do see how stunned and exhausted the Welsh students were and they tell us what they think about this education system so we do learn a lot about South Korea’s high schools, which are among the top in the world.

The episode here raises the question of whether this intensity is worth it. It mentions the international test scores and gives the ranks, but it doesn’t give us the spread. Are the top 50 schools pretty close to each other or is their a wide spread between them?

Like Wales, Americans can improve and intensity their curriculum, but neither country is going to start having students study till midnight in cram schools so if Westerners study five hours a day in school and a few hours at home, they would never surpass students who are in a formal classroom from 8 am till midnight.

I think it’s better to have a balanced life and be able to work on projects, which emulate post-graduation work, than just to memorize.

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Words & Pictures

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Starring Clive Owens and Juliet Binoche, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2380331/?ref_=nv_sr_1 focuses on two talented and cranky high school teachers. Owens teaches English while Binoche teaches art at an élite private school. Both demand a lot from their students and are disappointed with their own ability to produce the excellence they once did. Owens’ alcoholism is the main cause of his writers’ block, while Binoche’s rheumatoid arthritis hinders her painting.

They’re neither warm nor fuzzy ever rather they’ve embraced the “genius must be prickly loners” philosophy.  They are rather interesting and the film moves along quickly. Owens likes to compete and when his students tell him that the new art teacher believes “words are lies,” he dreams up a Words vs. Pictures competition, which all characters do acknowledge is a false dichotomy.

The leads and Amy Brenneman, who plays the head of the school board, are compelling. I thought the students’ acting didn’t ring true. I’ve seen better chemistry and half way through most romantic films, I’m rooting for the opposites to work things out. Here I thought well, I wish these people well, but if they part company perhaps that is better.

All in all, it’s an okay movie, but it could have been better. It did make me think I wish Amy Brenneman had another TV series. I miss her down-to-earth appeal.

A friend posted this on Facebook

One of my students was squinting at the board so I asked him if he forgot his glasses. He said he didn’t have any glasses because his mother won’t let him get any because she doesn’t want him to look like a “book idiot.”

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Let the Teacher Beware

This opinion piece is from my teaching blog:

The hellish school I worked for in Guangzhou is hiring. Let the teacher beware. I’ve added in bold what I think people should know.

CCC seeks an ESL/EFL Instructor to teach English for their Education Bound U.S. (EBUS) program at Xiang Jiang High School (XJHS) in Jade-Green Island, 45 minutes from Guangzhou, China, in Xintang, a factory town with horrid air quality. Though California law requires that employers provide a safe workplace,  we’ll ignore that and hope you will too. This program offers American college-level courses to Chinese high school students (regardless of their English level, even 15 year old kids with D’s in English can take college classes) to prepare them for transfer to U.S. colleges and universities though the best students will transfer from EBUS into XJ’s AP program each year so maybe this plan won’t quite work out. If the first two classes are a good measure, half the students will transfer out of this school before their third year.

Under the direct supervision of the CCC EBUS Program Coordinator, who will be in California so you’ll wake to 20-30 emails A DAY from him and if he’s like most staff will only deign to speak with you at his convenience, i.e. California time.  Night owls preferred as some calls will start an hour late and conclude at 2 am Guangzhou time.

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I Couldn’t Agree More

Here’s a brief, convincing pitch on prioritizing statistics in education.

Personally, I love statistics and if I had known in high school how much I’d like it, I would have done more math in college.

If instead of Advanced Math, I could have taken a high school statistics class as a senior, I would have taken more statistics or math classes in college. My only choice for math as a senior was something called Advanced Math and I have no recollection of what we actually learned. I can tell you at I learned in geometry, algebra and trig, but advanced math, well, I had Mrs. Meyers and I believe she was nice. That’s all I remember. She was one of the better math teachers at Marillac and it was a shame she didn’t teach freshmen algebra.

None of my math teachers ever told us what Calculus was about so I picked up some vague ideas on the streets. (Sex ed was far more detailed at my Catholic school.) I just figured it was more painful than algebra with the inept, unpredictable Sr. Angela and thus best to be avoided.

Disclaimer

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