Friday, November 19, 2010

Say Kimchi.. Like You Mean it

Three fridays a month I have the pleasure of going on field trips with the kindergarten I work for. I have been to the Jinju Castle, Children's Library, Forest Museum, and a hike, amongst many others.

Last friday I went to a Chrysanthymum Festival and today I went to a dinosaur museum.

Now, you would think the point of these field trips would be to educate the kids and allow them to have fun (seeing as they are THREE to SIX year olds going to school 5 days a week without a nap time). However, from my point of view it is all about show.. like many things in Korea.. saving face.. glasses without lenses.. charms for your cell phone.

Our kindergarten, which is a chain throughout Korea, is in competition with the other chain kindergartens that have a lot of money in Jinju. There are obvious marketing approaches that any business would take, however I don't feel right about this one:

Every single trip we have been on, except for maybe the library,the teachers immediately take out their cameras. They take pictures non-stop, but only of the kids posed. We went to a police station one time where the kids were allowed to try on safety gear at the shooting range and it was a zoo trying to put ear muffs and safety goggles on a kid, taking the picture, putting them on the other kid, taking a picture, puttting them on the other kid, taking a picture and so on, you get the picture, ha, hopefully! The kids never actually get to experience things, it is a lot of shouting from teacher to teacher, dragging one kid away from the photo area and dragging the next kid there.

Today, we went to a dinosaur / science museum and the kids spent more time posing for pictures in groups of three in front of a model of Mars or beside this statue or 'pressing' that button than they did actually DOING the different experiences and being a kid and running around using their imaginations!! I have 20 kids that are 3 years old, and they pose without being asked.. literally pose.. either with the peace sign, one hand up to their face like they're innocent, macho poses, the works.

I kind of just stood back and watched today and was like MAN these kids miss out on all sorts of joys in childhood, just so my kindergarten can put a book together at the end of the school year to impress the parents so they will re-sign for the next year... or to appease the parents to make sure they have lots of fake-posed pictures of their children... not sure which.

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