Back in Korea, time is marching on...for my students. On Valentine's Day, I said good bye to my monstrously misbehaved 6th graders at their graduation ceremony. Of course, I was invited (aka, my presence was demanded) by my co-teacher only the day before, when she said to me, lip quivering,
"I think you have to go..." and then looked non-plussed when I asked her what time to show up.
But my aggrevation over communication styles is not the point of this story.
The point is the ceremony itself. It contained performances by the students, an overly long speech by the principal which no one even pretended to listen to, a video montage, a photo montage, and awarding of prizes. It was, it general, a huge snoozer and I tried not to let my eyes glass over too obviously.
There was one performance that made me shudder. The fifth graders performed a popular K-pop song called "Roly Poly". Some students sang (loly poly was what they actually said, much to my amusement), some played instruments, and some danced.
It was horrifying.
First, the words. I never bothered to listen to them before. They just formed the background of K-pop over stimulation that pollutes the air from 8AM to 11PM. I was, therefore, in no way prepared to hear my students, my chubby faced, eager beaver babies sing out,
"I like it here, I like it there." with disturbingly cherubic enthusiasm.
My horror was compounded by the dancing on the right side of the stage, where students dressed in sparkly playboy bunny ears were riding the pony and smacking invisible fannies in front of them.
My eyes nearly popped out of my head!
I looked on, horrified, as my students sang and mimed for their peers, teachers, and parents, how they liked to get down sexy. Their eyes were completely empty of awareness - a perfect mirror for the audience, who smiled back at them without the slightest hint of awkwardness.
All except me, of course. I was looking around, face flushed and grimacing.
I have, unfortunately, seen these kind of shenanigans before. Each fall the students have a festival during which, for some god-awful reason, they are allowed to make up their own performances. I always see my pre-pubescent, hip-less students gyrating precociously in front of a clueless crowd.
But to see it at graduation added a fresh layer of horror on the situation.
I shuddered, squeezed my eyes and ears shut. I didn't say anything. I already know my imput would not be appreciated, having questioned the age-appropriateness of this ritual the first time I saw it.
"It's a little embarrassing to see" my co-teacher admitted, "but we don't say anything."
Most of the parents weren't even paying attention. I breathed a sigh of relief when the kids put down the microphone, and was slightly mollified by the content of the remaining performances:
aural torture by amateur flute, and fan dancing.