Last month I was given a huge budget and told I could choose whatever teaching aids I thought I needed. Pretty awesome: large white boards for groups to DRAW on! (since large paper is seemingly non-existent) many board games, a pen tablet so I can mark-up power point presentations and draw free-hand, a giant connex set that can be used for kinesthetic learning, and even a complete western dinner service for four – along with serving dishes, several beverage glasses, serving utensils, cloth napkins, and enough extra plates to mock up a six course meal. (I figured maybe once in their lifetime the students will get to go to a fancy restaurant, and they should learn how to behave and eat continental)
I’d found last year, just before I came to Cheongpyeong, two amazing books for teaching speaking with and they have been absolute gold-mines. I make up power points from the lessons and put my own spin on them, and they are actually improving the children’s speech noticeably. I only use them on the high level first graders. (My school is actually transitioning to an academic school from a technical school, and this is the first year. So the 1st graders coming in are far ahead of the 2nd & 3rd grade students)
I’ve also found that short t.v. shows are the perfect length to be able to give a lesson AND a break that just also happens to be cultural exposure. The kids are enjoying the first episode of “The Wonder Years.” right now. To the entire school I am continuing to throw in my episodes of traveling through America. We just hit Kentucky last week, where the kids got to see a jug band, clogging, learn about hillbilly stereotypes, moonshine, and the source of Appalachian folk songs. As well as learn about poverty in America, the constant fight against corporate exploitation, and the horrible devastation of mountain-top removal. In all of these video clips I’d assembled was a little bit of Korea. I swear these are the same mountains sometimes, with the same people, sitting together cleaning vegetables, jawing and singing. Not surprising since the topography is the same and that dictates a lot about what people can and can’t do.
Funny, I ran into a Korean speaking perfect English at one of those clubs over the weekend and it turned out she was a gyopo from North Carolina. And then we were talking to each other in Southern (as in below the Mason-Dixon but not deep south) accents, and she heard me and pinpointed my accent to Kentucky. Ha ha ha! They didn’t call my redneck town “Taylor-tucky” for nothing! Listening to those videos brought it right back…It’s so weird this Korean can imitate hillbillies but not Koreans…
For some reason (I think I was looking for something someone had commented on somewhere else) I had to look up girl4708 on google and it was disturbing. It’s just disturbing to see how many adoptees and adoptive parents discount everything I have to say because I was abused. So I just want to clarify for everyone that I was treated extremely well. I was well fed, clothed, housed, and had everything I asked for. I never experienced violence or was even yelled at. No. I was loved. I was loved TOO MUCH. I was treated just as emotionally distant as the rest of my siblings (well, actually I was treated better than them) and was given all the same rights, privileges and disadvantages as all of my siblings, yet regarded differently and told it was the same. And you know what? The real “abuse” was not the molestation. It was the manipulation. Being told I was the same. Being regarded differently.
I don’t doubt one bit that many adoptive parents love their adopted children just as much as their biological children. But I think they are liars if they say they love them the same. Because we are not and never can be the same. This is something all of us adoptees know. Being made to swallow that lie is manipulative.
In all aspects my adoption was just as privileged, just as ambiguous, just as socially challenging and just as successful and troubled as most any other adoptee’s adoption. I just happened to get this extra complication. Being assimilated without choice was one continuous manipulation. Putting up with molestation was also without choice and one continuous manipulation. They were parallel experiences. Except the adoption came first, priming me for the second experience. Figuring out the more obvious manipulation and power politics of my molester father helped me figure out the parallel manipulations of adoption. So I don’t hate adoption just because I had a hellish childhood, (which I didn’t). No. I criticize international adoption because I can see clearly. That analysis is a skill. It takes practice. I just have more practice is all. And it’s just infuriating for all those rationalizing I-could-never-do-anything-self-serving-or-manipulative people to say that I am incapable of being able to do any deductive reasoning about adoption because I was abused. (because of course abuse means you can not be like their adoptees) So there they are, discounting everything I say. Because that’s easier than admitting they are self-serving and manipulating.
Because even though she says not to discount the value of her abused voice, I’m sure if she’d had a normal adoption she wouldn’t feel that way.
And then they admit that they hope their adopted children don’t think the same of them when they grow up. At the same time they refuse to recognize the deceit they impose upon their children.
I had a typical adoption. More similar to everyone else’s adoptions than anyone cares to believe. Similar to Jane’s adoption. Similar to every adoptee I talk to. But these information-age latter day adopters don’t really care. Their adoptions will be different. And you know what? They are probably right. Because their little charges have parents who spend their lives on adoption bulletin boards getting ever more sophisticated about manipulating their adopted children into swallowing their adoption dogma. They no longer tell their children, “Oh! We just wanted to help/save a child who needed a family!” (well, some still do…) Now, they say. We wanted a child and you needed a family so we thought we could help each other out. (never mind that they already had a family and that the need was giving the families viable options to stay together – never mind that these AP’s would take any child, from practically anywhere) Etc. etc. They can ignore the growing body of evidence and narratives of adoptees because their wants are pure so any collateral damage is better than the alternative: the alternative of having ones own identity, own culture, own language. Living with them is always better than than living there with them. They even say they wish their mothers could keep them, but they couldn’t, so they might as well benefit from that awful situation. Lies. It seems the more we talk to AP’s about our experiences, we merely train the parents to be better manipulators. But really, nothing changes: the AP’s want what they want and they get everything they ask for. And the children must swallow it. And shut up. The more sophisticated this debate gets, the less the children are able to discern the manipulation.
Also researching something else, I ran across the annoying Youtube series on Losiah’s adoption from Korea again. Annoying because the parents are such privileged, shallow, immature twits. Over 20,000 hits. 20,000 people who’d like to also be immature privileged twits with babies. Then go to TRACK’s channel and the videos only have about 800 hits. See what western-marginalized countries are up against? See what family preservation is up against? The pressure to exploit other countries for babies is shockingly disproportionate. And Korea, btw, is the number 1 country in the world from which to get babies under 1 year old. Still. After 56 years in business.
Bankrupt of ideas and games for my small discussion class, I decided to just do a generic survey. I asked the students to brainstorm what they wouldn’t change about Korea, and what they thought needed changing. Then, I asked them to fill out a third column explaining how they could fix the problems. The first class had a huge list of things they loved about Korea – a few of them quite dogmatic (like Dokdo island) – and a small list of things they wanted changing. In general, the answers on both sides were all pretty superficial: I think their lower English level was impairing the level of conversation they could get to, but that doesn’t bother me – its more important they find ways to figure out how to express themselves, so the interested ones will reach for dictionaries, etc., and they managed to get to something substantive a couple of times.
The second class was just the opposite – everything was substantive and the two columns were about equal. I was surprised and delighted to have Winnie add first adoption, then the lack of social services, and then unwed mothers to the mix. (and I’ve never as yet spoken to any of the students about my views on any of that) I’m guessing Winnie’s mom is super cool. When filling in the third column, almost all their solutions meant higher taxes (which also totally surprised me) and their solution for this was to raise the taxes to the rich as well as raise the cost of cigarettes. “I HATE rich people.” said one of the boys. And the other students were finding words to use like, ostentatious. (except for Tiffany, who was practicing come-backs to being hit on, like “In your dreams.” )
There is such a huge difference between where I am now and where I was last year. I definitely prefer honest working folk to the miserably wanting to attain more crowd in the suburbs.
Tonight the census will come by to give me the English survey. I hope adoptee is on the form.
The census was shocking. It only recorded nationality, not ethnicity. Most of the questions were about buildings and infrastructure. What a wasted opportunity. I think I might have skewed the results a bit, as the census taker kept wanting me to call the kitchen a living room, even though there were a bedroom, a living room, and a dining room as options.
Tonight I have to write a lesson plan for an open classroom. My co-teacher weakly hinted around how she wasn’t comfortable in an only supporting role. I told her I was against doing things we don’t normally do, and that I had to answer questions afterward about my teaching philosophy. She says she is required to speak and that she needs a script to follow. Argh! Anyway, I told her we could practice if she wanted to, but I didn’t let her turn this into a dog and pony show.
It’s just not okay to let the Korean school system proceed with unsustainable, showpiece lessons that don’t accomplish real learning. She gave me a link to videos of other open classroom shows and I haven’t watched them, as I’ve seen my share of these charades already. Edutainment might be appropriate for elementary classes, but it’s too late for these high school students. We need to correct the wrong directions of the past methods and use real pedagogy used by EFL professionals the world over.