Laying the Smack Down

Mr. White here:

As far as I can tell, Koreans seem to be a much more hands-on kind of people. It is not at all unordinary to bump into someone on the street or in a bus and not hear an apology. It isn’t rude, contact is just part of living in a country the size of Indiana with 49,000,000 other people. I actually have grown to appreciate the fact that being out in public is a contact sport with no apologies.

This hands-on mentality can be seen elsewhere too. The kids for one can hardly keep their hands off each other. They hold hands, slap each other, push each other and for some of my second graders grabbing other’s(including their teacher’s) private parts has become funny. This might make me sound old, but I don’t remember being that touchy in elementary school.

Today in my sixth grade class I saw another example of contact. This remedial class just won’t listen to me. I try everything. My words simply don’t work, they seem to have no idea what I am saying. “What are you doing this weekend? You know Saturday and Sunday? Today is Thursday, tomorrow Friday, then….no not Tuesday, Saturday.” This is strange because most of my first graders can tell me the weekdays without thinking. But these sixth graders could care less.

Well, my Korean co-teacher had seen enough. Two months of watching me gain no control of
these kids reached its boiling point. When I saw her grab her yard stick from behind her desk, my stomach turned with the kids. As I sometimes think this woman hates me more than the kids, I wasn’t quite sure who was going to get whipped.

Smack! right across one of the boys backs. Quiet. Chatter. Smack, across another. It was weird, but while the message of my “Quiet pleases” did not register, the smacks certainly did.

I’m not here to tell you that corporeal punishment is right or wrong, but for about 20 minutes today I saw its benefits. After witnessing what could happen to them, I have never heard so many questions from this bunch. It was like they had learned English overnight. They went from staring at me dumbly to being one fluent bunch.


  1. Summer says:

    I thought of you guys today. One of my South Korean friends pulled me aside to ask a question, and she held my hand the entire time we were talking. I like affection, so I didn’t really pay too much attention until I read your blog. It’s interesting to get insight on a friend’s culture through you guys. The part about the kids touching private parts, though…glad y’all are the teachers and not me!!


  2. Dan says:

    You guys can simply hit the nail on the head so often with your blog entries. You do an excellent job of grasping the various elements to the situations, or appreciate the benefits of things. Each entry I want to jot a compliment, so keep it up. Your passions are obvious.


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