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3 Non-Predictions for 2014


There is some rather long winded, but interesting read discussing why privatization is maybe not a good thing for Education (with a big E).

Part I and Part II

His basic idea is that privatization does not lead to a better education system and he uses Korea as a way to establish that idea.

The private education in Korea is, simply put, ineffective.  Given the huge expenses parents pay, the results are disappointing.

A Taste of Asia

Onsan Petrochemical (photo essay by Jason Teale)

onsan (3 of 11)

One of the fun things to do is to take people into the heart of Mordor… er Onsan and watch their reaction when they are standing next to factories that are belching out steam and fire. Onsan is one of those  places that when you find yourself in the middle of all those factories, it is pretty intense.

onsan (2 of 11)

Arts and Crafts, or How I Avoided Losing My Mind And Actually Enjoyed Teaching Handicrafts

About a year ago, my supervising teacher leaned over to my desk and said nonchalantly, “For January, you will teach a Crafts class. You know, making stuff?  OK?”

Stunned, I nodded my assent and stared balefully at the pitiful array of art supplies my hagwon kept.  We had some origami paper squares, a dozen or so pairs of scissors, a couple of nearly spent glue sticks, and about 65 crayons. Not 65 packs of Crayolas, 65 individual, heavily used crayons.  I shook my head in dismay. I had very little experience with crafts and even less with teaching children to do them, let alone children who don’t speak very much English.  How was I going to manage all this chaos in my pitiful 8×15 classroom?

Walking the Cat

My next door neighbour is the landlord’s mother. Like most Korean ladies in their senior years she doesn’t like cats and I was told a few months ago not to let Soul out of my groundfloor window. Instead I take her for an hour each day to the mountainside next to my house. She is scared of strangers and so we go to the quiet grassy patch that is home to two buddhist style mound graves and overlooks the city. From there we can scramble up the wooded slope behind us. In earlier months it was a red world of dappled sunlight and raining leaves. These days even the big rocks have a carpet of thick white and brown which Soul sinks into as she gallops past my legs.

 For a little while it seemed as though we had these slopes to ourselves. I’d take up a flask of tea and my guitar and sing a very liberal interpretation of Folsom Prison Blues to the last of the dragonflies. This past month however, the slope has grown more popular.

Highlights of the 2014 Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival

Every year, over a million people flock to the quiet town of Hwacheon to participate in the Sancheoneo Ice Festival.  The festival, which takes place annually, is in its 11th year and is consistently voted one of the best local festivals in Korea and was even named one of the "Seven Wonders of Winter" by Lonely Planet.

EVO2014 - Free Online Global Workshops for Language Teachers

For those who might be interested, there is an awesome (and free) ELT professional development event starting today - TESOL's Electronic Village Online. I've really enjoyed participating in the past and am always amazed by how truly global and collaborative EVO is. 

The Launch Webcast takes place at 11pmKST tonight and 18 online sessions will run from Jan. 13~Feb. 16. 

More info at

Together, Alone


New Year’s Eve is the time to celebrate, to gather up with friends and engage in some “rage” – that is, partying and drinking until you realize that you’ve lost all spacial perception.

Instead of staying in Daegu, I decided to spend the occasion in the lively coastal city of Busan. I had been there recently for a “12 pubs of Christmas” bar crawl, the second that I’d completed over this past holiday season, where I hopped from Haeundae to KSU to Seomyeon to…? On this night, some people I knew were taking the KTX train down to where the party was at, bent on raging all the way there. It sounded like a fun way to kick off the festivities, so I planned on joining in.

Defending the Tiger Mother

First let me start with what I am not defending, and that is the whole idea of tiger mothering.  Perhaps it breeds success, maybe it gives some children a leg-up in the world today, but this supposes that earning lots of money should be the number one goal of life.  I strongly disagree with this and like many who disagreed with Amy Chua's first book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother", I believe success and happiness in life is possible without ruining the relationship between parents and their children, without placing undue stress, strain and pressure on them, without spoiling all their fun, and without emotionally scarring them for the rest of their lives.

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