Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kindergarten Festivals

Every year Ivy School held a Kindergarten Festival. It was supposed to showcase the English ability of the kindergarten students and how they had advanced. Yet it somehow never managed to do that.

Why? Half or more of the festival was done in Korean by the kids. It is nice and cute to see them in their little hanboks singing "Appa Himniseyo" but that ain't English. Nor did it showcase things they were being taught. Instead, for about 2 months prior to the festival, classes were focused on learning the songs and or skit they were doing for the festival.

The goal of the festival, like an "education" at most hagwons, wasn't about learning. It was about making the parents BELIEVE their child learned something. Yes, your child can sing a song they cram studied for 2 months in English now. Too bad they STILL can't answer the question "What day is it today?" after a year. The Kim's (Ivy School not the generic term) didn't care about the learning just the money flowing into their bank account.

Then you had the foreign teachers and the festivals. For the most part your job was to help set up, prep the kids (costume changes), and take things down. At one point you were on the stage being introduced with the Korean teachers. Of course this all took place on a Saturday, which your contract (which doesn't count for anything) said you didn't work, and the Kim's would try and weasel out of paying you overtime let alone basic time for the hours you gave up.

One year the Kim's decided that the foreign teachers wanted to do a song on stage. Yes, they decided we wanted too. Not us. They also decided to tell us 2 days before the festival. Which left basically no rehearsal time.

We picked "California Dreaming". With six people we figured it was an easy one to muddle your way through. It would have been too except for the ricetards working the sound system at the festival. They decided that the song was too fast and used the mixing board to slow it down. Oh, and in typical Korean fashion they never told anyone they were doing that. It threw everyone off. The song was horrible. The parents thought they would help out and clapped through the whole song. unfortunately they didn't clap in TIME to the song. They clapped at whatever speed suited their kimchi addled brains.

It was a horrible waste of time and looked bad. Thanks to that the Kim's never again "asked" the foreign teachers to perform on stage.


  1. Yeah, I remember those. I landed in the middle of prep for one my very first year. It made my initiation a little easier, in that every once in a while I had to herd the kids into the big room to learn their parts instead of trying to teach them something.
    All I remember about it is one class sang "I'm a Barbie Girl, In a Barbie World..."
    I don't think they understood what the song was about....
    But afterwards, there was usually a big feed of sumgyupsal and soju, which kind of made it all worthwhile.

  2. They sang "Barbie Girl" ... I am not surprised. :)

    We would do the feed after wards too ... but I don't consider that proper recompense for putting in 6+ hours work on a Saturday that I am not obligated to work. Of course back then I thought contracts were binding and not just a starting place or I would have negotiated for more than a meal. :)