It dawned on me today, that noise is not the enemy.
This is coming from someone who used to pretend they were Quai Chang Kane and would practice walking as softly as she could, and speak as minimally as she could. I wanted to exude zen my whole life, but instead have been a sleeping, growing hurricane.
Anyway, it dawned on me today that noise is not the enemy.
I have been, up to this point, like many of the other Korean English teachers I’ve met, who have also hungered for interested, respectful participation – not this seeming total disregard and dismissal of the English teacher and the lesson. Not the din of ten groups of children each having their own private Korean conversations, oblivious to the instructor or what they are trying to do. I have heard others like myself speak of almost telling the kids to shut the fuck up. I have heard of others bribing the kids with candy to behave. I have heard of others handing out homework and relying on written hand-outs to keep the children in quiet concentration mode.
But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to break quiet concentration. We’re here to break the chains that prevent these children from expressing themselves. My job is to get the kids to speak. I need to embrace the noise and recognize that it is productive. I need to tame it and train it and direct it.
So today was noise beyond compare. It was particularly painful because my ear canal is enflamed, my throat is sore, and my lungs are full of garbage. But I realized amid the cacophany that some English was going on. Today’s lesson was an attempt to get them to ask each other questions. One group of boys pooled their resources and made smart-ass answers to my sample questions. So I complimented them on their creativity to the entire class, and then told the class they should be just as creative asking questions. And I wasn’t able to get to all of the students, but of those I was able to hear and interject with, I saw some light of recognition.
I can see this is going to be a long slow process, but if today is any indication, then I just have to let them be loud. I have to work on me just as much as working on them.
Bring on the noise.