Thursday, March 26, 2009

Spring into Spring

Well Spring for the most part is here, although this morning is started to rain, and then snow rather hard. I've never seen such a quick transition from one to the other.

This semester is going well. As previously stated, I feel much more comfortable as a teacher, and enjoy the company of my teachers even more.

The top image is of a group of tap dancers 'tapping off' to a live funk band. This took place in Seoul's artistic district which is surrounded by many universities giving the area a great sense of experimentation and expression. If I could pick where I would live, it would have been closer to there, in retrospect. There are many interesting shops, museums, and other culturally interesting things to do and see.

The second picture is of a friend buying dried seaweed at a traditional Korean market in Namdeamun.

My parents will be here next week, and hopefully I'll find out about grad school in a week or two. So it should be an interesting April for sure. I did make another website for an online portfolio for grad school, but it's not much at this point, so I won't post the link here. But I do plan to make another more general blog on that site, which I will post when I do. The new blog will be an area for my general thoughts about current events, technology, and art, while I'll keep this one focused on my episode in Korea. Korea's been a great experience, thus far, and now that I'm past the six month mark I feel much better about the whole experience. So many interesting and kind people to meet, I must say I think Koreans are very welcoming.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Caves, Efficiency, and Education

Gosu Cave is a famous Korean limestone cave which reaches 1,300 meters deep and is home to many impressive natural rock formations. My friends and I had a enjoyable time taking a bus and ferry to get to this cave from Seoul on a nice Sunday afternoon. There is a metal railing path that visitors take that winds up and down through out the cave; and was a little bit intimidating at parts due to either the height or narrowness of the pathway. Although spelunking most likely will not become a favorite pastime of mine, it was great to be able to see such grand natural formations underground.
Efficiency is what Koreans do best, and is one of the most appreciated cultural aspects I think. Whether calling a company for assistance via phone or 'standing' in line at the post office, prompt service is all most always given. I put 'standing' in marks because it's not really standing. When walking into a post office, or even some movie theatres, you just take a number and take a seat to wait your turn. This is not like taking a number at the deli in your local grocery store in America, this system is actually efficient. And when I ordered Internet, the company came to my office for the required information the day of the call requesting service, and came to my house the next day for installation at a time which suited me best. Thus I'm impressed greatly by the since of duty that people take in their jobs.
A new semester of school has began, and I already feel more comfortable and confident about it. My teaching abilities have improved greatly since the beginning of last semester, and thus the semester has started off on a stronger foot than last. Winter camp was a time when I really was able to develop my teaching skills since I was working with the same students for an extended period of time, and thus allowing me to become a better teacher for this semester. I have one new co-teacher whom is also new to teaching, so it makes the learning process of teaching more enjoyable. And the children continue to be great at participating, and this always makes going to class all the more interesting.
I should find out about my graduate school application in early April. Getting accepted would really help create an ideal transition into my future career. And my excitement for the program has continued to be extremely high. It's been a fun yet challenging process to apply to grad school while living in Korea, and if anything I'll at least have a larger vocabulary. One of the main things I miss most about university life is the large libraries that a student has at their finger tips; the internet still does not have the same quality of information that can be found in a university library. So if I do get accepted I will be spending a great amount of my future time in a university library researching various interests of mine; which is a fun thought.

While living in Korea I have been able to appreciate education in ways that I was previously unaware of, and because of this realization I now take education for granted less. It is my hope that the American education system can become better, because I feel that there is so much lost potential in our education system. So now I will share my two cents on the topic, and please don't be offended if you are an education major. I of course respect education majors and think they are vital to the education process.

Although, I do not think all teachers in K-12 should be Education majors and that there should be a more diverse educational background for the teachers. I feel that having the majority of teachers be Education majors can create a 'group think' mentality in the public school system. American universities continue to do well on an international scale, and the college professors do not all exclusively study the methodology of how to properly educate a college student. I'm not trying undermine the importance of Education majors, as I realize the importance of studying the methodology of the learning process; but teachers should not only be education majors. The more diverse the educational background of the teachers, the more interesting the education can be for the students thus allowing for more opportunities for the students to want to learn. Of course, I speak from only my own experience as a student, and I do not understand how the American education system works; but I'm glad I am able to gain some experience as a teacher so that I may have a better understanding from the teachers perspective.

Also being a teacher I now realize the importance of smaller classrooms. The larger the classroom the harder it is for the teacher to effectively teach. Larger classrooms allow some students to just coast through the class with out being individually challenged, or given proper attention. Because all students have different learning styles, and thus the larger the class room the more learning styles, making it more difficult to keep all of the students' interest. Personally I think any classroom with more than twenty-five students is too many to effectively teach.
My parents are coming to visit in early April, so it will be wonderful to see them. This past winter I did begin to miss my family a little more; so it will be great fun to be able to show them around Seoul and share the experience for a short bit. Spring in Seoul is supposed to be beautiful, and the weather is already starting to become much more enjoyable.