They’re coming to take me away…

The men in the white coats? The black limo with the pine box? Either or both or neither… I do however find myself superannuated – not in the common sense as I am an old age pensioner rather than a self-funded retiree, but in the older sense: “Medieval Latin superannuatus, past participle of superannuari to be too old, from Latin super- + annus year”. In other words “over-yeared”. Oh yes I am, and in a couple of days another birthday –  or so many years since mid- World War II – to make the point.

As a teacher perhaps one becomes keenly aware of the passing of generations. Or as one gets older confused about which generation was when. Now the 21st century school leavers are taking over we poor old sods from the previous century are more and more teetering on the brink, rocking on the perch, floating somewhere in space…

Item: Mr Rabbit (an ex-student) and Thomas (a blogger) are doing a double act at the English Teachers’ Conference in August: “Lend me your Lenovo: Persuasion through the classics and ICT.”  That can’t be right? Aren’t they still in Year Seven?

Item: Mian Wang (2004) turns up in Wollongong and it appears is a full-on health worker down here. Isn’t he still in Grade One?

Item: Korean-born J S (class of 2003) turns up last night on QandA.

He asked a very good question too:

An article from last week’s The Economist showed the results of a poll conducted for the BBC World Service where people around the world, including Australia, have become increasingly worried about the eastward shift in economic power. The Chinese Investment Corporation (CIC), China’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, will reportedly be handed another $100-200 billion dollars of reserves to invest. Should Australia be concerned about these movements, such as the recent buyout of 43 farms in Gunnedah by a Chinese firm?

I see I mentioned J on my English/ESL blog (retired): On welfare issues with Korean-Australian students.

Korean Student Forum 8 September 2004 at Sydney Institute of TAFE…

This very valuable day was organised by the Consulate-General of the Republic of Korea, the NSW Department of Education and Training, the Australian-Korea Welfare Association, and Korea-Australasia Research Centre (KAREC) at UNSW. In his opening remarks, Dr Chung Suk Suh from the University of NSW set the task: to identify issues concerning Korean students and to begin exploring collaborative strategies to address these issues. The day was characterised by great openness and frankness. Dr Chung memorably reminded us at one point that diversity is not a problem to be solved, but a rich resource to be tapped.

Other speakers included Ms Park In-soon from the Korean Consulate-General, Mr Qeefaa An (a community information officer), Mr Keith Lee from the Australian-Korea Welfare Association, two Year 12 students, one UNSW student, the Acting Commander of Eastwood Police, and the Principals of Killara and Carlingford High Schools and of the Saturday Community Languages School. Workshop sessions in the afternoon came up with suggestions that will be codified and distributed later. An ongoing network has been established. Many of the issues and ideas raised apply also to students of other backgrounds.

In 2003 there were 2800 Korean and Korean-Australian students in NSW state schools, with at least 1000 more, many of them overseas fee-paying students, in private schools. At Sydney Boys High we currently have 38 students who identify Korean as their first language.

Ms Park reminded us that students in today’s Korea have their own culture, very different from that of their hard-working parents in many cases. Mr Lee explained the lingering Confucian tradition in Korea, stronger there than anywhere else in Asia. Traditionally, Korean parents claim ownership of their children even after the children are married, and parental authority extends to choice of school and university, even of wife. Hence some Korean students might find it hard in situations where they have to take responsibility for themselves. However, about 18% of Korean parents are more detached from traditional values, encourage activities involving creativity and sport, and are more comfortable in mixing beyond their own group. It was interesting that the three students who spoke strongly valued making friends and contacts both within and beyond Korean contexts, and two of them actively pursued leadership roles in their schools.

Some parents, Ms Park said, think hard work equals length of hours, so the number of hours studied perhaps outranks the quality of the effort made. Sometimes such parents ignore the student’s natural ability and needs. Pressure can lead to rebellion, but where the family is strong such students usually get through this and achieve a balance in their lives. For overseas fee-paying students away from home, however, sometimes without adequate guidance, serious issues can arise. Dr Carter, the Principal of Killara High School, cited instances of self-harm following unrealistic expectations and excessive pressure. Mister Lee spoke of an over-zealousness about education which may combine with parental uncertainty about the Australian system to produce underachievement, stress or rebelliousness in some cases.

Mr Lee also pointed out that parents often learn that their involvement in school activities tends to get their children noticed. He suggested that schools need to educate the parents in every way possible about the philosophy and methods valued in Australian education; information nights and translated material are of great use here. Of 350 Korean students surveyed by Mr Qeefaa An, only 18 always spoke English at home. 102 responded “Never”. 92 always spoke English with friends.

Taking part in the workshop on “behaviour” I was pleased to be able to report that the various welfare initiatives [at Sydney Boys High] in recent years, such as peer support and peer mediation, have had good effects, as too have such positive role models as Mark Nam (School Captain 2002) and J S (Year 12 2003) to name but two.

In the “behaviour” workshop one of the police officers said something that adds perspective. He said that if we see a group of young people kicking a soccer ball around a park we feel positive about it, but if you take away the soccer ball and have the same group a bit later at night, or at a mall, people start saying “It’s a gang.” There’s something in that.

Of the 350 students surveyed, 125 said they had experienced bullying or racism at school, 50 outside school.

  • See also Factors affecting the adjustment of Koreans studying in Australia (DFAT/Australia-Korea Foundation 2004.)…

    They’re taking over you know.

    No, not TEH AZHUNS! The young ones…  Gradually (rapidly?) pushing us off the planet…

    As they always have.

    Maybe they’ll be  able to do things we couldn’t – like have a sensible discussion about climate change. (Kudos on this and several other issues by the way to honest Liberal Party person Stephen O’Doherty.)

    Well, Australia’s Got Talent tonight…


    I just love the Popeye the Sailor Man rendition of Tony Abbott in Moir’s cartoons lately. It’s so spot-on!


    Trouble is – Popeye always wins!


    2 thoughts on “They’re coming to take me away…

    1. “Of the 350 students surveyed, 125 said they had experienced bullying or racism at school, 50 outside school.”

      In fairness, I tried to bully them all, but 225 of them were bigger than me.

    2. Sorry. It’s just so hard to stay banned. Especially when you write funny material, or material that needs a good retort. Don’t hate me, Neil :). I can’t help it.

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