Today I taught 1-3, my second worst class.

No matter what I say or how temporarily effective my my classroom management is, two minutes later the infants are back to their old tricks. The stupid boys three feet away talk amongst themselves, as if I am invisible, as if I can’t see and hear what they are doing. Today I asked them point blank, “how stupid do you think I am? Actually, YOU’RE stupid to think I can’t see and hear you when you’re three feet away.”

One boy just never took a break from his conversation all class, and as I was beginning to talk about the value of the listening exercise, I remembered how an elementary teacher once taped a boy’s mouth shut in class. I told the students about this and told them I would do this to the next one that was DISRESPECTFUL and spoke while the speaker was talking. Of course, not two minutes later I had to follow up on this threat. I marched out of class, went to the office, and asked for tape. I came back with a fat roll of masking tape and had the boy stand up and I taped his mouth shut. I continued talking about the pacing of subtitles in English movies and watched in horror as the boy pulled the tape off of his mouth. So I sent him to the back of the room and told him I would have him come to my desk after class. I had two other students join him.

Instead, I took their student numbers and told them I would call their parents.

After class, I went back to the office and traded up for duct tape…

I went to lunch and showed my duct tape to the other teachers. Y got very concerned and looked like I’d threatened to rape the boys. She told me I can not tape the boys mouths. I told her no. I AM going to use the tape. We use this method in America and it works very well. All of the teachers got very concerned and acted like I had suggested stripping the boys naked and taking photographs of them. I was told to please beat them instead. I was told that taping the boys mouths would cause many problems. I was told the parents would complain to the principal. So what? Let them complain. It’s not our culture they tried to convince me.

LOOK. Nothing you Korean teachers do for discipline works. Your beating doesn’t work. Your threats are empty. You have rules and don’t enforce them consistently. All the students know they will get a second chance, so none of the rules have any power. The students rule you.

There was silence. I was encouraged to hit the students again, but please please please don’t use the tape. I told them I can’t hit the students – it is unethical. I was told I CAN hit the students. I told them that a foreigner is not protected from lawsuit and we can not hit the students. And we do not want to hit the students because it is abuse. They think tape over the mouth is abuse.

I tell them that maybe tape is what is needed. Using shame in a shame culture seems like the most effective method of all. It seems I have hit upon the ultimate shame.

I don’t know what the rest of the year will bring. I am sick of this place. I am sick of these people. They can’t solve any problems because they all live in fear.

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