Day 30

Wednesday | March 28th, 2012


I’ve lived in Gyeonju for 30 days now. No regrets. Not one. To think now how I delayed getting out of Seoul for at least a year and then watched circumstance and happenstance strip away every reason I could form against leaving over that year, including “The Fall” of the Cosmodemonic Education Company and the ensuing disenchantment with working there.

It’s not fair to compare this new job with the CEC, if I had to work here as much as I did there, it would be a sucky job indeed and I would have started to tear heads off already. The fact that this job is not such a thorn in life and being there is 85% about teaching and helping people get better at something is what makes the difference. The other parts are 10% paperwork and 5% of loose time I prefer to call: encounters with maladjusted megalomaniacal shucksters of the Korean ESL industry who are as much a part of the poison they complain about.

Prior to the shuttering of the R/D department at this time last year, job satisfaction at the CEC was 100%. Things deteriorated from there in almost every way possible. Job satisfaction in Gyeongju is 95%. I’m really enjoying the paperwork; I swear I have a symbiotic bureaucrat growing inside me.

Not having seniority, not having absolute control, not being the most experienced or qualified person at the table, those are the biggest adjustments. Last night was particularly hard as I was in a meeting with maybe 15 people who had more experience teaching a level, a book, and a set of materials, and were pushing a rubric which I thought was terrible. One of the issues was the rubric only had a range of 1-4 with very subjective criterion for each category and level. I wanted to revise the language to cite specifically what makes a 4 a 4, a 3 a 3, etc. I also wanted to revise the range to 1-5. What killed me were the professors who didn’t see anything wrong with the rubric as it stood. A few of them even suggested giving out a 3.5 instead, which just qualifies why the rubric isn’t very good in the first place. There was other dissension in the meeting as well (a healthy sign), but it was all shot down and the crappy rubric was cleared for midterms.

As the new guy, experience and education matter jack-fuck-all, I think. Nobody cares. Of course I wanted to stand up, flip and table, and call the rubric what it was, but that’s the way of the tyrant. I need to walk the path of the learned.

The plan then: to continue to watch and listen, document the problems I experience with current methods, and present alternatives … and be prepared to be shot down by a team majority (and love the whole process just because).

I went to bed late last night and Wednesday being my day off, I slept most of it away either sleeping until Meow came home from work, or napping for 20 minutes turned three hours after dinner. I did go out with the dogs and Meow on another blustery river walk.

Naughty broke free from the trailer door I’d put his leash on while just as I snapped this one. He took off and when he came up behind a young woman she shrieked like he was a German Shepard or something. The problem is he never comes back once he gets freedom and catching a pug is like trying to catch a chicken or a piglet.

This is the park where we take them when we cross the footbridge. Twitchy tugged us toward the bridge once we crossed the street, so we figured we were going there even though we hadn’t intended to. I snapped a lot of pictures on our first walk here on Day 9. For some reason the grass was a lot taller a few weeks ago. I couldn’t tell if the seeds had dropped or someone had been harvesting the reeds for something. Twitchy got a little freedom here until she took off after birds. She likes birds. She was much better at coming back when we called her, but still not great.

I spent some of the evening researching doctorate programs trying to figure out what the admission requirements are. There are a lot of good programs in the States. None in Korea … but I think I need to dig more. If there isn’t one here today, there likely will be one tomorrow as the country continues its push to raise the Korean academic profile on the world stage (it sounds stupid, but it’s a serious game). All the programs I looked into only want a Masters and GRE scores and then the usual kit. They do not require a Masters thesis and instead ask for a writing sample and a separate professional statement.

Most schools either frown on an Ed. D and offer a Ph. D. in Education or embrace the Ed. D and shun the Ph. D. The U of O (in that pesky town I grew up in) and a few others offer both, with distinct paths and purposes. Wikipedia has nice background on the Ed. D / Ph. D debate and other good nibbles, e.g. Bill Cosby has a Doctor of Education.

With that, I emailed Framingham and asked them to go ahead and process my commencement application. If I was still in Seoul and still at the CEC, I would be in a great position / place to conduct grammar research with the ultimate goal of producing better materials for CEC clients. But I’m in Gyeongju, I teach a different target age, grammar isn’t really on the table anymore, running curriculum tests here would require cultivating new contacts and thus take much longer than I had anticipated when writing the proposal in Jochiwon last February.

I still think all grammar books are shit, especially the ones in Korea. I still think the PACE model is the best way to teach grammar to Korean ESL students and I still believe it would be more successful than the deductive approaches which are omnipresent in all materials here. But, I don’t think I need Framingham to oversee this idea / research as a mini-thesis which continues to delay my graduation for a thesis that, while fun to do, is not a necessary component to pursue a doctorate.

If everything is kosher with my application, graduation will be May 20.

The Daily Bullet* info here

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