Friday, June 16, 2006

As I take a slug of white Russian and lick the drips off my moustache while swallowing I'm feeling very Dude-like tonight. If you don't know the reference watch the Big Lebowsky. Then read it again and you'll get a chuckle. Maybe. Things are getting Dude-like around here. I'm marking final exams and realizing how little most of my students have learned. Now I have to try to fake like I did my job. I was in the supervisor's office today saying, "In the parlance of our time, new, uh, uh, shit has-has, uh, come to light, man!" Or something a bit more professional sounding.
The thing is, the more I talk to my supervisor, the more I think the sum total of what he has to give me for advice is "Don't worry about test scores, assignments, homework, attendance, participation points or other such records you've been keeping for the past 16 weeks, just give everyone really high marks." Or something more professional sounding.
It's far more neccessary to have things LOOKING official even if they're complete horseshit. For example, if a student misses more than 11 hours he or she automatically fails. Any subject. And I think that's good because my classes have averaged a total of 42 hours or so. 12 hours is about 29% of class. So if a student misses 12 hours but absolutely aces the stuff he's been there for, the best he can hope for is 71%. And as near as makes no difference, the students who are missing more than 11 classes are not likely to ace anything except maybe textmessaging 101, soju drinking 1100 or advanced slackassing.
Well, I've been told to give nobody more than 11 hours absent. So people who have been absent for half the classes will have a really nice 11 after their names on my attendance.
Not only that but we've been told that students don't really fail English in this school. Unless there is someone who just hasn't been in class at all, they all have to get at least 60%. So I'm gonna have a lot of students who missed more than 50% of class getting 60%! "Why is everything" in Korean schools, "always such a travesty, man!?!?"
So it looks like things are pretty lax. Not so! The way to fill out our official attendance forms was outlined and I think that's gonna take more time than marking the final exams did. I have 3-hour classes. If a student was absent for one of the three hours I hafta make a /. For two of three I make a //. For all three hours I cross the //. And it is important to evenly disperse the phony crossed //'s, //'s and /'s for the students you are trying to make look like they were only absent 11 hours. We have to try to make it look genuine if we can.
For holidays or special days like sports days, military training days for the guys, school festivals, and we had an election day this semester, mark all the students present but for those you intend to fail, mark them away. I think that's what I was told anyway.
We have to fill in the month, date, day and hours of each class on a form that's only in Korean so God help those teachers who don't read Korean. Luckily I do. But after I've sounded the words out with domestic accuracy and pronunciation, I don't really know what the hell they mean.
The marks are even more ridiculous. It's important to keep things pretty standard because it looks phony if one class has much higher marks than another. I have one class of about 45 who averaged in the 80's on their final exams and another class with about the same number of students in it that averaged about 15-20%. How in the name of FUCK do you average that shit out?!? And these classes have been that way all semester long! I tried really hard to make things easier for the shitty class. And harder for the good class. The good class even missed one day for the love of God! That's three extra hours for the duds! But I suppose it wasn't enough.
Not only that but within the bonehead class are about 4 students who are absolutely awesome! Two got 100% on the exam and two got 98%. So how can they be learning while the rest are getting dumber? And if I add like 50% to other students' marks, what do I do for these four?
It gets worse! Not only do I have to try to keep my classes' marks fairly uniform, but all five of the English teachers have to come up with similar marks for all their classes. How we are supposed to find out what kind of marks the other teachers are giving their students, I don't know. "Just cuz we're foreigners doesn't mean we're SAPS!!"
And now the worst part: after we have sharpened our marking pencils and created what we think is a stinky enough pile of academic fraud, we have to plug it all into the computer system at the school. Of course it is all in Korean and it has WAY too many bells and whistles and little bugs that we will no doubt learn about the hard way. And of course every little mouse click that is second nature to a Korean will be totally foreign to us foreigners and they won't think of explaining it. Like when you click on the icon for the program we need to enter the marks into, a box may come up that says, "Are you sure you want to enter this program?" because all Korean electronic shit has plenty of these useless extra steps to it. The choices will be yes and no but they will be in Korean so we won't have any idea what we're looking at. If we manage to guess correctly, a warning may come up that says, "The domain you are entering is not protected by your current virus software. What would you like to do?" The choices will be continue or delete all the work you have done up to this point. But we won't know what we're looking at. So we'll have to guess. That's just one example.
I've tried this inputting marks into a computer before and it's always a MASSIVE pain in the ass even when the program is in English.
But this is where I earn most of my money I guess. It'll be a very "creative" week I guess, working all this out. But after that it's two months of holidays! WOOOHOOOOO! Despite all my bellyaching, I'll think it's worth it when I'm drinking my Caucasians in Boracay, Kuta or Patong Beach. Just don't ask me if I think it's worth it right NOW.

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