Tag Archives: teaching

Did I Ever Tell You How I Met My Wife?

Disclaimer: this is fiction. This is not how I, David Stewart, met my wife.

That said, this is my 3rd anniversary of doing Friday Fictioneers stories every week, which means I have written 156 100-word stories thus far.

I was having trouble thinking of a good story for this one so I asked the students in my writing class. They told me to write “a funny, horror love story”. Thanks guys, eh?

I got my revenge though, by assigning them each to write a story for Friday Fictioneers. They have their own WordPress blogs as part of our curriculum, so they’re going to post them there. If you want to read them, the links are:

https://bobybangladesh.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/surprising-assets/

https://yuxianadventure.wordpress.com/

https://tmsamurai.wordpress.com/

The last two hadn’t posted their stories at the time I posted this. Keep in mind that they are still learning English and before these stories, they had each written one fiction piece in English.

Now, on to the story.

copyright Roger Bultot

copyright Roger Bultot

 

Did I Ever Tell You How I Met My Wife?

I unearthed her while digging the foundation of a new office building. She lay there, dead but conscious, watching me.

It took me twenty minutes just to ask her name. I was so shy.

It was rough at first; all relationships are. I’m a vegetarian; she drinks the blood of the living. Well opposites attract, they say.

*

That was 6 years ago. We’ve both adjusted.

My phone buzzes. Honey, bring a ssssacrifice home for dinner. I hunger I thirst lol

“Hey Bill,” I say to my co-worker. “Wanna come home for supper? My wife will whip you up, something special.”

 

Advertisements

So long, So-Yeon

First of all, thank you Rochelle for choosing my picture this week. The advantage of having your own picture as the prompt is that you know the complete context. Just as Thoreau says in the quote that Rochelle always includes, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see” and in this picture, I see the lines of Korean middle school students streaming up the long drive to the middle school just out of frame (you can see the lights of the soccer field in the background.)

In a departure from my normal fantastical imaginings, this story is almost 100% true in every detail. Dangerous stuff, since it almost brought me to tears several times while writing it. But such is life. (By the way, click on the picture to see where it was taken.)

copyright David Stewart

copyright David Stewart

So long, So-Yeon

I gave them hugs in the classroom but we hug again at the door.

“We’ll miss you, teacher.”

“Don’t go.”

“I don’t want to,” I say, and mean it.

“I’ll write you every day.” I smile; it’s well meant, but won’t happen.

Last is So-yeon. She’s been that smiling, encouraging face in class ever since Grade 3. Now she’s in middle school and so grown up.

“I’ll never forget you,” she says. I wonder if it’s true, knowing it doesn’t matter.

Finally I wave and turn away, to another country and another school, leaving part of my heart in Wanju.

 


The Battle of New Semester

I’ve been busy lately with work so I wanted to write a post explaining why I haven’t been around as much as I would like to be this week. This is what came out of that. My wife says I’m being silly and, of course, she’s right.

(For those of you who don’t know, I teach ESL at a university.)

Destination: Inbox (Source)

Destination: Inbox (Source)

The Battle of New Semester

I knew it was coming for months before it hit. I watched it appear on the horizon like a tsunami viewed from the relative ease of a tropical island beach. Over the weeks and months I watched it get closer, with anticipation at best and at worse, resignation.

Then, on January 5, it hit.

The invasion of the new semester.

It started slow. The first wave was mostly Administrative Duties, buzzing in from above, peppering me with emails. “Re: re: re:!” went their machine guns. “FYI! FYI!” They were slow moving and I could pick them off easily enough, but as the week progressed, each progressive wave got thicker and closer together.

The 5th Division Placement Tests made an amphibious landing on Thursday and I was busy for two days putting down that threat, until finally everyone was in their place. Unfortunately, we weren’t without casualties. Our general went down with the flu and a few NCOs as well.

Of course, this was just the vanguard attack. The main invasion force came the next week and the battle settled down into the daily slog.

The Class artillery is not that bad. Every morning at 8:30, the shelling begins, with 30mm Grammar shells coming in from the right and Writing mortars whistling in from the left. You just have to endure and after a couple hours they slack off before a shorter American Culture attack in the afternoon.

Worse are the Lesson Plans. The sneaky blighters sneak up and sabotage your defenses and equipment, making you unprepared for the daily Class shelling. Sometimes I can pick them off with a few well-aimed shots but other times I spend hours hunting them down, the battles going on into the evenings and spilling over to the weekends.

It will get better though, after a few weeks. I’ll set up anti-aircraft batteries to knock down the Administrative Duties and dive-bombing emails as they appear. I’ll establish a wider perimeter to take care of lesson plans from a greater distance and the daily shelling of Classes will become routine. Things will settle down soon. Soon.

That’s teaching for you.


Welcome to the Green-Walled Time Machine!

GWT Time Machine

This is the first post in what will be a weekly segment here on the Green-Walled Tower. It will share selections from magazines ranging from 1908 to the 1930s and 40s and interesting insights into the culture and current events of the time. First though, let me give you a little history about how this all started.

About 17 years ago, my grandparents moved into a smaller house and were going to throw away two boxes of old magazines. I took them, although I had nowhere to put them. And so, they sat in my parents’ house for 17 years while I was in university, and then in Korea. They brought them to me a few weeks ago and I could finally look through them properly. The magazines are all ones my great-great-aunt collected over her lifetime. She was a school teacher and a devout Christian, so most of her magazines relate to teaching, Sunday School, or missions. Still, among the lesson plans and Sunday School stories (and in them too) were many fascinating details about life at the beginning of the 20th century. And now, without further ado…

Ads in Teacher Magazines

It appears that modern times are not alone in having ads crammed into every square inch. All magazines in the 19-teens and 20s seemed to have ads everywhere, especially in the teaching magazines. Here’s an example from the February, 1913 issue of Primary Plans:

ads in teacher magazines

What surprised me most were all the ads for other jobs. Most teachers today don’t get into it for the money, and it was even more so back then. The February 1913 issue of the Cambridge Tribune mentions in an article about raising teacher salaries that some teachers made about $800 a year (they also use the term “starvation wages”), which is about $18,600 today. So, it is not a shock that teachers would want to make a little extra money. What is surprising is the types and variety of jobs: watchmaking (if you’re a man), doing magic, sewing, organizing Lodges of the Owls, and even what looks suspiciously like spying, considering the phrase “reporting Information, Names, etc.”

Anything that says "Big Pay" has to be legit.

Anything that says BIG PAY has to be legit.

They even had for-profit schools back then, promising BIG PAY for people who wanted to pay them to help prepare for the civil service exam; i.e., to stop being a teacher.

Another surprising advertisement is the one right at the bottom, for Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. It was a tonic whose principle ingredients were morphine and alcohol, and while that might seem par for the course for teachers, it was actually marketed for infants. Also, it was denounced by the American Medical Association two years before this magazine came out.

Morphine and alcohol: safe for infants since...never.

Morphine and alcohol: safe for infants since…never.

This Week’s Bonus Weirdness

A few pages over from the above advertisements was this tiny one, little more than half an inch high:

1119142206

Tell me, what do you think this ad is about? He is looking for subscriptions. Does that mean he wants you to buy subscriptions to magazines through him (with big savings) since he gets them at a discount? If so, it’s a strange thing for the magazine to print, since it would undercut their profits. Or does he want second-hand magazines, although if so, what does he mean by “big savings?” What do you think?


Do you think like a Korean student? Take the quiz.

Yesterday, I played a game with a few of my middle school classes. It was a basic Taboo or Hot Seat style game, where one person comes up to the front and doesn’t look at the TV. A word and picture come on the screen and the others on their team have to describe it without saying the word or using any Korean.

It was amazing some of the ways they came up with to describe things using their limited vocabulary. Some were fairly obvious, like “Justin ____” for the word “beaver”, since Koreans pronounce “Bieber” and “beaver” the same. For others, they used Korean as a base, like “rock whale” for dolphin, since the Korean word for dolphin literally means “rock whale” (although I’m pretty sure the rock part of that is just a homophone for something else). Also, for the word “pear”, they pointed to their stomachs, since the word for stomach and pear are the same in Korean (not that anyone guessed correctly using that clue. They usually just passed on that one.)

And then there were some others. Take the quiz and see if you can guess the answers based on the clues that they gave (and which their friends used to guess the word correctly.) The answers are at the end.

Quiz

1. “firefighter’s friend”

2. “chicken changed”

3. “Edison” (plus pointing up)

4. “Pizza’s friend”

5. “white water”

6. “small round cake”

7. “bird king”

8. “lion’s friend”

9. “Korean number 1 food”

10. “Made in _______”

 

How many could you guess? Scroll down to see how you did.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Answers:

1. “police officer” (They tend to link these two jobs.)

2. “kitchen” (Korean students always mix these two words up, so they see them as related.)

3. “light”

4. “chicken” or “pickles” (This had two, since they closely relate pizza and chicken, but also when you order pizza here, pickles always come with them as a side dish, even with delivery.)

5. “milk”

6 “muffin”

7. “eagle”

8. “tiger”

9. “kimchi”

10. “China” (even in Korea, a lot of things are manufactured in China, so they are used to seeing Made in China.)

quiz


4 Reasons I Don’t Like the First Week of School

I think I’m a pretty positive guy. I try to look on the bright side of things. I only say that because I don’t anything to think of this as a gripe. It is merely a chance to share my unique work situation.

Here in Korea, the school year starts at the beginning of March, so I have just finished the first couple weeks of school. And I am very glad about that. I know a lot of people don’t like going back to school (students especially), but there are several unique factors for a foreign English teacher in my position that makes the first week of school a lot less fun.

1. Getting to school

I don’t have a car. If I did, this would not be an issue. I do have a motorbike and the bus system here is very good, but still, it takes a while to get everything straightened out.

I live in a city of about 600,000, but I work in the countryside around the city, which means I can’t walk to my schools. In times past, some of the teachers would pick us foreigners up, but they usually don’t like doing that anymore, and honestly, I don’t like getting picked up. Even if I have to take a bus, I like to be independent. I can ride my motorbike to two of my schools (I work at four different schools) because they’re relatively close, unless of course it’s pouring rain or a blizzard or the bike’s broken. In other words I have to know how to get to all my schools by bus.

Unfortunately, all of my schools are in different directions and I have to transfer buses to all of them, so I have to coordinate two bus schedules to make sure I get to the transfer stop before the second bus gets there. All this for four different schools which start at different times. I ended up being to late to one school and having to take a taxi to another one the first day in order not to be late.

Wanju work map

2. People assuming I don’t know anything

I’ve lived in Korea for nine years and have taught public school here for five years so I pretty much know what’s going on. I speak the language, can use chopsticks, know the bus system, and everything else you need to survive. But I’m not Korean, so everyone naturally (or not) assumes I got off the plane yesterday. I don’t necessarily blame them, since there is a high turnover rate for foreign English teachers and so a lot of us are fresh off the plane. Still, the first day or two at a new school is invariably the same.

“Can you use chopsticks?” “Oh, I think that food is too spicy for you.” “Oh wow, you can speak Korean!” “Do you know how to take the bus? You do? Wow, how do you know?”

And so on. Again, I’m not trying to criticize the Korean teachers, but it does get tiring when you go through the same routine again and again and again.

3. Not knowing anything

Even though I know a lot about Korea and public schools in general, every new school I go to has its own idiosyncrasies, for one reason or another. One of my schools is built like someone found the plans to the Labyrinth, thought that looked too straightforward and kicked it up a notch. Schools all start at different times, one has lunch after three periods instead of four. Some have English classes in an English room; others in the classrooms. In other words, I do some wandering around sometimes, asking people a lot of questions like where the bathrooms are and what the password to the class computer is.

One of my schools. It looks straightforward, but it's best to hire a Sherpa if you have class in one of the far buildings.

One of my schools. It looks straightforward, but it’s best to hire a Sherpa if you have class in one of the far buildings.

4. Introduction class

In elementary schools in Korea, there are no classes on the first day. The homeroom teachers are getting to know their students and getting them to color name tags or doing other icebreaker activities, so I don’t have to teach. In middle school, there are classes on the first day, but the teachers don’t want to start the textbook, so they say some variation of, “Just introduce yourself today.”

How long does it take to introduce yourself? Not the whole 45-minutes of class, that’s for sure. Even if I show them the Introduction to my Hometown powerpoint that I have, it only takes five minutes. Now I have been teaching long enough that I come prepared to get the kids talking and fill up the period but it tends to be awkward and I do the same lesson over and over again. I’m not complaining, but I’m always happy when the first week is over so I can get into real teaching.


The Hieroglyphics Teacher Prevails

For some background (if you wish), read:

The Hieroglyphics Teacher

The Hieroglyphics Teacher Makes a Discovery

The Hieroglyphics Teacher Strikes Back

elixir_of_life

Ben learned two things that day: 1. Never put Elixir of Life in the refrigerator; and 2. Given the chance, broccoli just wants to watch the world burn.

 Ben had opened his fridge to see that everything inside (including the fridge itself) had come to life. He immediately had to stop the eggs from hurling themselves onto the floor in some pointless gesture of bravado. The broccoli threw the empty Elixir of Life bottle at him and the butter burst into heartrending sobs.

 It took a while, but he finally figured out what had happened. The Elixir of Life had expanded and burst its seal, dripping onto the broccoli. It had come to life and had started spraying the Elixir onto everything else, out of sheer bloody-mindedness. Now Ben was starving, but he felt bad eating anything that could object vocally to the process.

 Luckily, Pizza Pockets were frozen and the food in the freezer was still refreshingly non-living. He took out the box and felt the accusing eyes of the rest of the food on him, as if he were raiding the morgue for a quick snack. He shut the fridge door.

 The question now (besides dealing with Ben Two) was what to do with the food. Now that they were living beings, it wasn’t a simple matter of just eating them or throwing them away. This is why the Elixir of Life bottle came with a warning on its side: May cause the endowment of inalienable rights. Use with caution.

 He decided to take a count first. He opened the fridge door and caught an egg as it immediately hurled itself out into space, yelling, “Yee-haw!” He corralled the rest of the eggs, shut the egg carton lid and held it down.

 In total, the sentient food included six eggs, a stick of butter, a head of broccoli, a half-empty bottle of soy sauce and an ancient box of baking soda that had been pushed into the back. It was lucky that he had not gone grocery shopping in a while.

 “You can’t hold us, fascist!” the broccoli yelled at him. “We’ve got rights.”

 “I know,” Ben said. “I read the side of the bottle. Where are you going to go, though? You’re all food.”

 “So, it’s hopeless?” the butter asked and burst into tears.

 “Well . . .” Ben said, thinking of the butter’s chances out on the streets. “Look, I really can’t deal with this right now. I’ve got bigger problems.” Having no other friends to confide in, he sat in front of his fridge and explained his problems with Ben Two to his groceries.

 “Egg barrage!” the carton of eggs yelled in unison when he had finished. “We’ll get him good. Just throw us in his general direction.” The broccoli just snorted. The butter was still sniffling to itself and the box of baking soda was apparently asleep. The soy sauce said nothing.

 “I don’t know if any of that would help,” Ben said, imagining the cleanup, and the subsequent nightmares.

 “I have an idea,” the soy sauce said quietly. It had a smooth voice that made Ben instantly listen and respect its opinion. “Let me speak to this Ben Two, alone. I think I can solve your problem in a mutually beneficially way.”

 “Uh, okay,” Ben said, rather nonplussed by such a self-assured condiment. “Whatever you want.”

 Ben Two came in at about 5:30, carrying five 24-packs of beer. He seemed to have forgotten about the incident at the school.

 “What are those for? Are you having a party?” Ben asked. Ben Two looked up at him.

 “No, they’re all for me. I heard today that people like drinking alcohol as a way of relaxing. I’m going to try it.”

 “But it won’t affect you; you can’t get drunk.”

 “Well, at least it’ll make a good story.”

 “Uh,” Ben hesitated. “The soy sauce wants to talk to you.” He led Ben Two into the kitchen. The fridge was whistling a blues tune softly to itself. He got out the soy sauce and put it on the table.

 “Leave us,” the soy sauce said. Ben instinctively knew it was talking to him, so he went into the living room and pretended to read while straining to hear what the two were saying. After half an hour, Ben Two came in, holding the soy sauce.

“Fine,” he said. “I’ll leave and let you teach your classes again. Kikkoman and me here are going to go start a crime spree.”

Ben coughed. “What? You can’t do that? They will think it’s me.”

“He has no fingerprints or DNA,” the soy sauce said, “plus I know exactly how to change his face to fool facial recognition software. And we will never, ever get caught.”

“How do you know that?”

“I have been aged,” the soy sauce said, “to perfection.”

With that, they walked out the door. Ben later found out that they had stolen his boat, but under the circumstances, he considered himself lucky.

And so Ben started on the long road back to somewhat normal life. He bought a kayak and through having to paddle between the different islands to teach his classes, he soon lost the weight he had gained. The food that had come to life soon adjusted to their new existence. The butter cheered up immensely after Ben convinced it that no one was going to eat it. Ben bought more food and the eggs guarded it from the broccoli, who had random fits of destruction at times. They all lived peacefully together, except for the box of baking soda, who expired peacefully one night.

Ben still had to stay at school until the end of the day, even when he had no classes, but such is life.


My music canvas

you + me + music

Eve In Korea

My Adventures As An ESL Teacher In South Korea

Luna's Writing Journal

A Place for my Fiction

Bikurgurl

Traveler, Wanderer, Storyteller, Blogger, Outdoor-Seeker, Gardener, & Voracious Reader, sharing bits of my life here

Here's To Being Human

Living life as a human

The Moving Quill

Writing & Blogging by Shailaja V

jenacidebybibliophile

Book Reviewer and Blogger

yuxianadventure

kitten loves the world

Strolling South America

10 countries, 675 days, 38,540km

It's All in Finding the Right Words

The Eternal Search to Find One's Self: Flash Fiction and Beyond

Reflections Of Life's Journey

Lessons, Joys, Blessings, Friendships, Heartaches, Hardships , Special Moments

A Writer's Path

Sharing writing tips, information, and advice.

Chris Green

Tales of Mystery and Imagination

Finding Myself Through Writing

Writing Habits of Elle Knowles - Author

Commendable Soap

"...the manufacture of stories... a business safe and commendable as making soap..." Willa Cather, 1920

BEAUTIFUL WORDS

Inspiring mental health through creative arts and friendly interactions. (Award free blog)

Total Time Waste

A Humor Blog!

Claire Fuller

Writing and art

TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND

Straight up with a twist– Because life is too short to be subtle!

Unmapped Country within Us

Emily Livingstone, Author

The Found Girl's Bookblog

A lost girl found by good books

Silkpurseproductions's Blog

Learning how to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

BJ Writes

My online repository for works in progress

wordsandotherthings.wordpress.com/

she is confidence in shadows.

Musings on Life & Experience

Poetry, Fiction, & Non-Fiction Writings

Outside The Lines

Fun readings about Color, Art and Segmation!

obBLOGato

a Photo Blog, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to dear dirty New York

Björn Rudbergs writings

Poetry and fiction by a physicist from the dark side

SightsnBytes

A.K.A. Ted White

WordDreams...

Jacqui Murray's

Life in Kawagoe

Japanese daily sight

The Day After

Musings, Photography, Writng, and More

Mondays Finish the Story

This is a flash fiction site where you finish the story!

Sketches By Boze

An ongoing exploration of faith, culture, myth, life, art. An advocate for all who are trapped in nightmares.

Tiffys World

A diary type blog following the life of a Forensic Science Student

San Diego Professional Writer's Group

A San Diego based critique group for professional and aspiring writers

Five Years to Mediocrity

chasing kitties, crashing scooters, and learning spanish, one anxiety attack at a time

athingirldotcom

never judge a girl by her weight

The Discerning Christian

Philosophy, Christianity, Social Justice

€merald Wake ©

❤ The art marked by the Pain ❤

Fiction et al

Navigating the modern business of book publishing

Yarnspinnerr

Just Fiction and other things that seem fictitious.

The Chicago Files

A CANADIAN EXPAT'S EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS LIVING IN THE WINDY CITY!

%d bloggers like this: