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Name of school removed

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Rastus Cleveland

Joined: 15 Dec 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:36 am    Post subject: Name of school removed Reply with quote

This post has been moderated UJ

The (School name removed) is a school to be avoided at all costs. A public-sector government school, it is located halfway between Daejeon and Gongju. The school likes to employ four foreigners in an E-2 capacity, but their employment promises that lure teachers are empty, fraudulent even. English camps of the five-day and four-night variety are taught 23 weeks a year to Daejeon’s (removed) students. The school headlines these 23 weeks as a lure in their ads, saying that the rest of the time will be spent teaching in Daejeon’s (removed) at the overtime rate. Considering the thin base salary, such padding is almost a necessary perk, but it rarely happens. If having sufficient income is one of your concerns, keep in mind that Daejeon is the worst city in Korea in which to teach privates. A rat line has been set up, and Koreans can earn a reward of up to 1 000 000 won for reporting a foreigner who is teaching private English lessons. Prosecution for this heinous albeit victimless and pervasive crime might result in a ten million won fine, jail time until this penalty is paid (i.e. wired from your homeland), deportation at your own expense, a nasty stamp in your passport, and an entry ban for a number of years.

However, if you work at the (school name removed) you will have little time to call your own. A shuttle bus ride (unpaid, naturally) will carve 35 to 40 minutes twice a day out of your schedule. There are times when the shuttle bus driver will drop you off at the entrance to the school mere minutes ahead of your class’s start time, so there isn’t time for a washroom visit or a cup of coffee. On occasion, the bigwig administrators will be there shouting at you to hurry up. But at least you get to go home at night. Such has not always been the case. Until a year ago, foreigners had to stay overnight in the (School name removed) two nights per week and on Thursday evenings until nine. Now, foreigners have to overnight once per week, but getting paid for this is a hassle just as often as not. A Korean website, (name removed) demands a lot of Korean language input, and missing the 7 a.m. login the next day exempts you from any compensation at all. Naturally, the teachers’ accommodations in the campsite are squalid, and until a year ago, management refused to supply hot water to the teachers’ dorm rooms. Students had the luxury of a hot shower, as did all the administrators, but teachers are the lowest of the low on the totem pole here. Heating in the rooms is iffy, and the provided bedding has often been totally unacceptable. The room I had to overnight in was so dirty that my eyes got infected: yellow-gray pus covered the whites and sealed my eyelids shut. Thank God I had brought a bottle of Optrex along with me. The bedsheets were cruddy, crusty, often stained with 30 to 50 shots of semen, for that is what pubescent boys, our students, like to do. A complaint to the teacher administrator, (Name removed), brought out his ire, and he threatened to fire me if I didn’t agree to the conditions in the camp. In an act of largesse, he gave me three days to agree to his dictate. He told me that nothing in the camp was ever going to change.

This (name removed) is responsible for the bulk of the(School name removed) mismanagement. Having his ego gratified is, in his mind, a goal loftier than the efficient running of the school. The day I arrived in the country, he and another teacher picked me up in Incheon, then after the long drive down to the (School name removed) he would not even permit me to have two minutes’ solitude on the toilet. Outside the stall, he pounded on the door and screamed at me to hurry up. I began to regret the $80 mint set of coins I had given him an hour earlier. All the staff went out for a welcoming dinner with me the night after I arrived, but one supervisor could not insult me enough in the gathering. True, I acknowledge the fact that I am packing a few pounds of adipose tissue, but big deal, so what. He, (Name removed), is much heavier than I am, but he continued to scream at me during the course of the meal. “Pig! Diet!” Of course, the ( School name removed) president was sitting right there, and everyone was amused with his original wit.

A few days later when I went with (Name removed) to the Immigration Office to get my resident alien card, after we submitted the paperwork and were in his car on the way back to my apartment, he decided that he needed to flex his ego a bit more and drove a couple of more kilometers out of his way and kicked me out of his car. Told me to have a good walk. Fun for him, but I was offended.

(Name removed) ego is huge and unchecked, and any half-baked idea that forms in his head is aired and becomes an order to underlings. He might stride into the teachers’ room and say what he wants for gifts, or that he wants this or that woman to give him a massage or that he wants all teachers to write letters of self-criticism. This act of masochism I refused to do, and my defiance drove him up the wall. Handicapped by his huge ego, he squawks for his coffee every morning and has a female Korean teacher prepare and deliver his coffee posthaste. No one is fond of being his servant, for he respects nothing. As a supervisor, he often dictates what he wants the teachers to do, but the problem is that he does not know what he wants, nor does he respect anything that the teachers produce. Nothing is good enough. So, teachers are always creating something new, but nothing ever pleases him, even though his command of English is insufficient to judge the teachers’ output. Even when middle school boys leave the camp, they yell at him from the security of the shuttle bus, “I am supervisor! I am supervisor!” They remind him with a parting shot that they are not fond of his abusive behavior.

In reference to teaching at other public schools in Daejeon, I have only done that three or four times during semester breaks, sometimes only for a day or two. The reason for this infrequency is (name removed) attitude. Even when such off-site teaching happens, the income generated is negligible, for the (School name removed) often defends its non-payment with “It would be illegal for us to pay you.” Some of the public school teachers in Daejeon with whom I have spoken after teaching their students have told me what an agony it was to deal with (Name removed) “He says that I did not show him the proper respect or use the right procedure, so he made it very difficult for me to get a foreign teacher here. I apologized as much as I could, but I am never going to deal with him again.” What a shame. Foreign teachers are deprived of income, students forego learning with different teachers, and idleness is imposed on all because of one man’s ego. Daejeon should share its educational resources, teachers also, but (Name removed) only goal is to have his ego gratified.

As a senior administrator in the (School name removed, Name removed) has created a horror story and haven for abuse, disrespect, and exploitation of its workers. Those in the lower ranks who want to curry favor with him will stop at nothing to do his bidding. On my first day in the School name removed) the head Korean teacher, [b](Name removed), came up to me [/b]and told me, “Do you know how much Mr. Nam hates you? He really really hates you.” Not quite the warm reception that I had been expecting. Another American had his fill of the abuse and quit after three weeks. He was harassed so much that he began talking of suicide every day. Many Korean teachers cut their two-year tour of duty down to one year. If anyone were monitoring the supervisors’ behavior at the school, it would be easy to discover that the school goes through a lot of staff. There are costs to staff turnover, but these expenses don’t come out of (name removed) pocket.

All foreign teachers in the school are paired up with a Korean English teacher, and they are usually agreeable. On occasion, though, bellicose and sycophantic xenophobes go out of their way to make life hell for the foreigner, and nothing is good enough. Everything merits abuse, and going to work becomes a burden. One American nicknamed his Korean co-teacher “Hitler,” an apt label, as I soon discovered. This amused me for a while, but then he got paired up with a more agreeable Korean, and I got saddled with that burden. True to form, (Name removed) was on my back every day for almost eight months. This despite the fact that I started work an hour and a half early every day, doted on the students, and spent my weekends creating new resources. Every day was rife with insults and exhortations for me to quit . “Why don’t you quit?” “Why don’t you leave?” “Just get a job somewhere else!” “Why aren’t you smart enough to get a master’s degree?” “(Name removed) has earned the right to abuse you!” For almost a year, I had to work cheek by jowl with this vitriolic cesspool of hatred. Real incentive to come to work. Life at the school was not hard for all foreign teachers, though. One Korean-Canadian woman showed up and left every day before ten in the morning. I worked more in a day than she did in a week. A query yielded this response: "She is Korean! She has permission!"

The maltreatment (name removed) dishes out to the foreigners is adopted by many other administrators at the school. Over at the Teacher Training Center, one fat bastard administrator came into the teachers’ room one day and started screaming at the foreigners that we had to teach this and that course at the school. Didn’t ask, just bellowed. Typical.

Another administrator in the office, another boorish man. One day, I caught him twisting the nurse’s arm and forcing her face to the ground. A big joke for that porcine tough guy. The only other expenditure of his energy comes from smoking, an activity that comprises the bulk of his daily activity. The former director, is also barely out of the swamp on the evolutionary scale. One Thursday after our camp students had presented their drama festival, (name removed) felt that he had to tell attending proud parents that the foreigners’ command of English was so poor (this despite the publication of 20 of my essays in Korean newspapers, the dozen books I have written, and the international writing contests I have won), not even as good that of the Korean English teachers. This came from a man who speaks broken English at best and then only if he has a script in front of him. However, he has a senior administrative position, speaks with the voice of authority, and dresses like a bureaucrat (i.e. as if he were going to funeral every day), so the parents naturally believed him.

A few times a year, the school hosts “leadership camps” for promising students. An outside nurse is brought in to give them health and hygiene talks, and one health professional furnished a class of pubescent girls with this advice: “Never have any kind of relationship with a foreigner. They are filled with disease and are dirty, dirty, dirty.” More than mildly offensive and a bit hypocritical in a country where room salons (brothels) abound, Russian “bar hostess” belles satisfy Korean johns’ desire to “ride the white horse,” 20% of all females spend some time in the rough trade, and in that Korean judicial quirk, rape victims are blamed for causing the crime.

Despite (Name removed) being a legend in his own mind, his knowledge of Daejeon and connections with people in it falls short. A case in point is the housing he rustles up for teachers. My apartment is maybe two meters by three meters, has roaches, bedbugs, no heat, incessant noise, and sporadic hot water, all for 320 000 won a month out of my pay. He does not want to hear any teacher concerns, either directly, through a Korean co-teacher, or even via a memo left on his desk. There are no lines of communication to him, and that is the way he likes it and the way he wants it to stay. Like most public school administrators, his job is a sinecure, and he wants to do nothing other than sleep at his desk, play baduk on-line, smoke outside, nothing more. His refusal to create a professionally-managed school contributes to its unprofessional environment. Teachers routinely go to class late, deliver lessons off-the-cuff with zero preparation, and often dismiss their 45-minute classes 15 minutes early. Having learned from (Name removed) and his ilk, these teachers do nothing, stand around and let others do everything, and then complain about the results. “Your class lasted too long!” I counter with “As homeroom teacher, you should have delivered your students ten minutes earlier. If you are late, you cannot expect others to curtail their classes and finish on time.” I do my utmost to be the epitome of a professional teacher: I am always early ( I arrive early every day and put in an extra 60 to 90 minutes every day), an always planned and prepared, constantly buy and create new resources for my students, and encourage bravery and creativity in the classroom. (Name removed) has no interest whatsoever in what happens in the classroom. The only class he visits is the Wednesday afternoon sports class. What gives him a special delight is to force a teacher to teach something for which he or she has neither aptitude nor interest. Sports classes are my bęte noire, and I get pushed into teaching them almost every week. Most classes last 45 minutes, and some teachers here regularly dismiss their students 15 to 20 minutes early, and that is fine by him. The parents pay for this English camp, as does the government, yet no one is concerned with the frittering away of time that should be used to hold classes. Although the sports are popular with the students, their pedagogical worth is dubious at best, and I did not sign up to be a phys ed instructor. So, not surprisingly, most teachers just kill time, the bane of the hagwon system also. Hopefully, the new president will swing a big axe and clear out so much of this deadwood.

(Name removed) will stop at nothing to cause strife. For months, he has been phoning my best friend (of ten years) here in Korea to tell her what a jerk I am. She originally found me the job, and the agony he puts her through is also an agony to me. What kind of cowardly dog gets such pleasure from poisoning the well? Curiously, (Name removed) phoned her up again a few weeks ago to see if I would like renew my contract. She told him to ask me personally. Not brave enough to do that, he asked my Korean co-teacher to pose the question. I gave her an immediate and flat refusal. “Please don’t say ‘No’ right away. Mr. Nam thinks it would be a good idea for you to stay here. So do I. You have one week to decide.” That man just loves giving an ultimatum. I gave the same unequivocal response a week later. I have seen many teachers, native and Korean, leave the school. His insistence on disrespecting others creates a revolving door here. I saw that on my first day in the school. Other foreign teachers had words with him, and told him what to do and where to do it. Respect begets respect, but he refuses to put his ego on the back burner. So, if you work for the (School name removed), you will receive a too-modest salary, no gratitude whatsoever, be fodder for managers’ ego, and have little time for yourself. That is all the school has to offer.
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