Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I like to teach

And I like children. Most of the time, I really do. I only have two weeks left with my grade fours and I'll be spending the next few days planning for those two weeks. I haven't posted much about school at all this year, and I suppose that's been an oversight. Especially as it has really been my life for the past 11 months.

One thing I can share easily is these photos of the fall arts festival. My grade fours made some wonderful things like these kites. (Don't forget to click on each photo to see it enlarged.) The teacher of class #4 (there are 8 classes in our grade) taught his students to make traditional Korean kites. He's also very good with calligraphy and teaches that as well. It's so interesting to see the eight different teachers with eight different classes creating eight different worlds within grade four. Even though all the textbooks are the same, the children's experiences are all different.

Also at the arts festival there was a huge concert where many clubs shared their musical talents. Here are some photos of just some of the clubs:

This was my favourite of the day. These girls are mostly from grade four, but some are younger. They were singing traditional Korean children's songs. It was so refreshing because most of what the others were doing was pop music. One of the girls in the Dongyosarag (동요사랑) club has autism. I enjoy teaching her, even though it is a challenge. I must say, though, that the biggest challenge is in teaching the other children to get along with her. It took almost the entire first semester to show them that loving her and sharing with her was the best way. Autism is a marvelous thing. Hong-sun (her name) scores perfect in math and Chinese character tests, but very, very, very poorly in every other subject. A mystery indeed - perhaps one day we'll understand.

This photo is of the girls playing the Gayageum (가야금), a stringed instrument played seated. Complete with traditional clothing - it was a treat. I just wish the students had more respect and listened - so many were just talking with their friends during the concert - especially the singing group above.

The pride and joy of Yeodo is their orchestra. They have about 80 members in the orchestra and dozens more students who study music, but aren't in the orchestra - it's competitive. Right now the whole orchestra is touring Europe: France, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. I translated the orchestra's pamphlet for their tour (30 pages) and the write-ups on some of the members and former members is amazing, but then there are amazing musicians everywhere. What I would like to know is why the same enthusiasm and passion isn't given to children's study in other areas. I know now that I would have liked to have been pushed more to study when I was younger.

Here was a surprise that I didn't know about. A recorder orchestra, complete with accordions. I didn't know that there were so many different kinds of recorders. Some of them are as big as oboes! The recorder is something that every kid at our school learns how to play. Sometimes there are so many practicing after school that I can hardly think. But they work so hard at it and it usually sounds alright, so I don't ever mind.

This was the performance that stole the show. This style of percussion music is very popular here in Korea now. There are groups at every school and university in the country. It's called Samulnoli (사물놀이), which means, playing with four things. Those four things happen to be good percussion instruments and the rhythms are constant and driving with songs going on for what seems like ages.

It was a wonderful day, that arts festival.

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