Sunday, November 14, 2010

Field Trip

Well, yesterday was a busy day.

Not sure how much I'll be able to write about it now that midnight is two minutes away, and tomorrow I'll be up early to get into work early to prepare for my open class (assuming the computer and printer are working).

Yes - tomorrow, I'll have two visiting teachers attending one of my classes to make sure that me signing another contract is in the best interests of the school - to make sure I'm not a hack, and likely to make sure that I'm not under the influence of illegal narcotics or passed-out from excessive drinking the night before (as most male principals likely will be). Perhaps this year they'll give me an additional HIV test right there in the classroom.

But, again I digress...

Yesterday turned-out started-out with a pretty cool little excursion to Olympic Park in the South East part of the city. As I've likely mentioned ad nauseam, Olympic Park is one of my favourite little get-aways in Seoul. Great green space and the perfect place for a picnic, a walk, a talk, a bike ride, or a concert (I've seen Ennio Morricone, Oasis, and Bob Dylan there).

Yesterday was the day for my Saturday High School class' field trip. At the beginning of the semester, I was notified that we would have one of our Saturdays dedicated to an all-day field trip. Great - why not? Sure I'd be giving-up more of my weekend, but getting paid more handsomely in return. It would also be a good chance to get to know my students a bit more.

As the day approached, I was first surprised, then not at all, to learn that there actually wasn't any plan for the field trip and that we would need to come-up with one. In the end, making a long story quite short, I ended-up being the one to come-up with an idea - mostly because no others were put-forth. Ah... whatever. I was happy in some ways to give this idea another shot.

So, as I did with my summer camp kids (with much more success this time around), we headed to Olympic Park which is, in addition to the things I mentioned above, the city's greatest collection of outdoor international sculptures. The place was built for the '88 summer games and has remained as part of Seoul's Olympic legacy and as a very valuable park space in one of the more populated parts of the city.

I previously visited the place to take photos of various sculptures in different areas of the park. Students were to work in teams, finding the sculptures in the areas marked on the map, and then responding to the artist's intentions - either critiquing the piece in terms of its success in fulfilling the artist's vision, or simply interpreting the piece themselves.

I was pleased to see that about 75% of the students were actually very into the activity. This is a thoughtful group, and I was glad to see that so many of them were able to rise above the Saturday Sleepies to dive into critiquing art on a November morning.

One we got going, we spent about 4 hours scouring the park in teams, with me on my bike zipping-around and helping teams locate their sculptures, while the other teachers rented one of those bike-car dealios and made their way around the park to aid in the supervision.

On of my more reflective students, Yeong-ji, gave me a bit of a pleasant shock upon discovering her groups second sculpture. I had told the students the previous week that there was one particularly creepy sculpture back in the wooded area near the bicycle facility. Yeong-ji's team ended-up being the one assigned to find that sculpture. It's a rather dismal work - a cut-out piece of wall and door, with an empty chair on one side, and what looks to be a closed crib caging a child's toy horse, and to top-off the horror - a disembodied white head floating through the wall. The title: "Childhood Memories." Classic.

Anyway, I came upon Yeong-ji's group seated about the sculpture and writing-away furiously. I asked them what they thought of the sculpture and Yeong-ji said "Thank you. It's so deep. I'm glad you gave it to us."


Yes - some of the students were less-than-enthused to be made to walk-about through a fairly huge park critiquing art on a Saturday. But, we were lucky to have a beautiful, sunny day, and we took everyone to Pizza Hut afterward. No real complaints, and I dare say that some of them actually learned something. Anyway, it was different from their everyday education, and I don't mind saying that I'm proud to look back on the day.

Well, there ya go - no time for part 2 (the bike challenge). I'll get to that tomorrow.



Douglas said...

I, and as you surely know, ran my mouth out of the fact that Koreans like to advertise that their nation has four distinct seasons. Looking at your pictures and still seeing fresh foliage and those still on the trees makes me eat my words. Here in Northern Germany, Fall lasted one week.

First photo is adorable by the way.

Douglas said...

I meant the second photo with the four girls. By the way, the following picture had my bursting out laughing upon a closer inspection. So what's with the fella on the left?

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

Yeah, the colors here are unreal. The camera can't really pick-up the deepness of the reds.

Yeah - dude on the left does not like to smile... or speak. He is one serious cat, for sure.

Even in class, it's like he's daring me to ask him to add to the conversation.

I tried sitting with him to eat pizza after the field trip, and trying to get a conversation going was like... I would say "like pulling teeth", but now I have a better metaphor: It was like getting your toe nail stitched-back on.