My college added an extra English class this semester for a certain group of students who will be going abroad next year. I’m getting paid extra (overtime, actually) so that’s fine with me and the co-worker also teaching the class. It’s conversation based, so prep time is low-ish.
Thing is, I knew right away what would happen — first week, full attendance, everyone excited to be there, rosy-cheeked yadda yadda. Second week, boom — about 50% attendance. Today, a text from two students — “Teacher, we have a special demonstration project this Friday so we can’t make it.” So today I rolled with three students. By next week, I’m guessing I’ll have two at best, possibly none.
It’s not a Korean thing by any means, it’s the tendency for schools to make ambitious plans before a semester starts without recognizing the obvious — a few weeks in people are going to start to get tired, grumpy, sick, expelled, have grandmothers die, etc. ”Emerging contingencies” in management speak or, more clearly, shit happens.
Thing is, this happens every semester I teach here in South Korea. It also happened every semester I taught high school in America. (“Hey guys let’s start a literary journal!”) It also happened every semester I taught as a graduate instructor or T.A. in graduate school. (“Let’s start an optional pedagogy seminar!” “Let’s start a Finnegan’s Wake reading group!”)
I’m lazy by nature. I don’t like to do extra stuff and in some ways that’s a personality flaw. But I’m also practical, and far from being a repetitive Cassandra when it comes to implementing new programs I feel like I’m actually a management genius. I feel like I’m actually doing my boss a favor when I remind him that last year’s extra program fell apart within weeks due to poor attendance, and that what sounds like a good idea now is not going to hold up in the face of homework and projects and exams. Of course this stuff sounds good week one or two — nobody’s had their week five mental breakdown event yet!
But alas, I still haven’t been elected king of the universe. Some day I guess.