“All work and no play…”

Today was a “throw the whole experience away” type of day. Monsoon season has the power to change even the kindest attitude into a horrible one. I like a little bit of emotional anarchy from time to time (sparingly) but it grinds my gears when the youth are without emotional release.

Korea demands so much out of its citizens and school-aged children aren’t remotely exempt from it. Call me too foreign for my own good, but summer is supposed to be a time of reprieve. Give the kids a break, yo. 

How do I know they need it? They’re playing with the glue from glue sticks, cutting shapes into small pieces of paper and, sometimes, exerting physical force.

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When the entire focus of the country is on academic stimuli and not much of anything else, the constant pursuit of perfectionism doesn’t leave much room for anyone to uniquely exist. I don’t think students would sit quietly in class, with tears running down their face the entire time, if the pressure wasn’t so relentless. They’re fearful of so much, too!

When do they have time to be a child? Is it during the short subway ride to the bus terminal on Saturday morning, after they’ve busted ass all week in a city that’s not where they live, in various academies? Is it for the few moments that they pass out in between lectures, only to be shaken awake and yelled at for getting the rest they genuinely need?

Reform within the learning environment appears to be a difficult thing to challenge, especially as a foreigner. For now, I’ll continue to clue my students in on how to catch a power nap unsuspectingly while under the gaze of CCTV.

– Ashley

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