March 14, 2011

past and present.

While talking to my 5th graders about the weather and their weekends at the beginning of class today, I saw the opportunity to talk to them about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan this weekend, to hear what they had to say about it, as well as teach vocabulary. I'm such a clever teacher.

I was taken back by many of my students as they snickered to each other and whispered what I can only guess to be unkind words, one student even proclaiming, "DOKDO IS OURS!" Granted I teach 5th graders (about 10-11 Korean age so between 8-9 International) and their outlook on life and reality can be a little skewed, but it was still surprising to have such a reaction about the suffering of their closest neighbors (who aren't ruled by a totalitarian dictator.) I had to remind myself about the fragile past between the two countries and the fact that Korean's still hold a lot of resentment towards the Japanese and their invasion of Korea, yet that is no excuse for such a ignorant attitude towards the thousands of lives lost in Japan. This may be an inappropriate way to talk about 5th graders, they are kids for heaven sake, and I am talking like they should be able to think for themselves and have kind hearts, oh wait...

Either way, it wasn't ALL my students, just a portion of them that gave me a disturbing glimpse into their world and possible adult mentality. Just wanted to share a little insight to demonstrate how it really is sometimes, humankind is not always polite and people hold grudges when they feel they are wronged. And they teach their children, even though those children and the "other" guys children had nothing to do with it. We can only hope the next generations decide to start thinking for themselves and understand that history should be learned from and left behind; we all deserve a second chance.

Thoughts and hopes for peace to all the victims in Japan..


  1. I found your blog on the expat blog, and I found this story interesting. Currently I'm teaching little 4 and 5 year olds, so they can barely speak Korean let alone English, but I've been interested in hearing reactions of Koreans on the subject, Koreans other than my co-teacher that is. Its sad how far reaching grudges can go isn't it. Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. Thanks for reading Vanessa! After talking with other teachers I have found out that my students were not the only ones to react this way. Where do you teach in Korea?


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