Saturday, October 15, 2005

Pencils... banned in school?

No this is not an episode of the Twilight Zone, you have just entered into... the hagwan school system in Korea. There was some drama this week in Amanda's classroom (from Colorado) involving a boy with overly-protective parents and a pencil. He was trying to steal a pencil from a girl when the girl let go and the pencil went into his nose (similar to the time my brother and I were fighting over a xylophone, I let go and he went flying down a flight of wooden stairs and had to get stitches). The kid had a small mark on his nose, the Korean teacher put a band aid on it and he was back in class 2 minutes later and laughing. The next day, the Korean teachers went up to Amanda and asked her very seriously what had happened with "The Pencil Incident". Apparently, the boy had to have emergency surgery on his nose and his parents are changing schools. Keep in mind that we're living in a country where you go to the hospital for a slight cold but this seems like a load of BS. How many surgeries would I have had as a child growing up in Korea?
For those of you unfamiliar with the private school system in Korea, a huge motivating factor behind everything at the school is money. Hence, we were told not to discipline our kids because disciplining leads to upset kids, kids complain to parents, parents ACTUALLY listen to their 6 year old complaining about being disciplined, parents take the kid out of school and move to a new one and the school loses out on the tuition. It's a brutal cycle because the kids are the ones who actually ends up losing out in the long run.
On with the story... So, yesterday in our staff meeting we had a ridiculous announcement--No more pencils in class! What the hell?! The parents of the nose-job boy are now suing the school and dramatic measures must be taken so that no more kids get hurt and change schools. So now they're safe but at what sacrifice?
Amanda is now worried she's getting fired and is living it up like it's her last weekend. As much as it is completely not her fault there is the real possibility that she could actually get fired for this. I'm trying to keep an open mind when dealing with the cultural differences in the workplace but now I'm wondering- What's next?