Monday 22 March 2010

New Robot Teacher Bringing Their Robot Culture into Korean Classrooms

Hi. I'm Chung Moon Jung. I'm an English teacher in a town near Busan, and for two years now, I have been working side by side with a Robot English teacher. While everybody in Korea wants a good education for their children, and English skill is crucial to achieving the universal dream of a good education for children, I am sorry to say I have been completely disillusioned with the Robot Teachers brought (at great cost) into Korea by the education board.

While it seems like a perfect solution to bring robots into our schools to teach English, in fact, they are anything but perfect teachers. First of all, whenever there is a dispute of methodology, the robot takes an arrogant attitude toward Korean education methods, and automatically assumes its own methods are superior, simply because it is a robot, and comes from a factory, rather than growing up in Korea, like I did. If I challenge it on the cultural differences between the ways of teaching the children are accustomed to, and the methods it wants to introduce, it just huffs, “That’s just my programming,” and ignores the fact that the students are confused. This arrogance and ignorance of Korean culture shows itself in other ways, as well.

The students often find it cold and difficult to relate to: it lacks the basic affection and warmth for students that are essential for a good teaching relationship. For example, I am tender and intimate toward my students, and I know how to judiciously use the love stick in order to demonstrate my care for the students. I also know when to stop using the love stick, and to repair hurt feelings with my affection stick. But when a student was unruly in the robot’s class, it peeled his skin off like an overripe pear, without even a second warning!

The robot also has trouble getting along with the rest of the staff. It often seems aloof and unfriendly, even to the supervisor, and it never comes out to staff dinners with us, denying us the barest opportunity to get to know it. It has never made even the barest effort to ask about Korean culture or language, displays ignorance or disinterest in Korean food and history. It insists that we speak its own language, even though it is very difficult for most teachers on staff to understand how to properly install Active-X controls, much less communicate in 1’s and 0’s. When it is dissatisfied with its living space - the closet where we lock it over night - it stops working completely, and refuses to perform even basic duties. This seems to be its passive aggressive way of insisting we fix the water leak in that closet, but it is insensitive to the Korean communication style of asking indirectly for service and repairs to its free housing, along the proper Korean channels.

Worst of all, the robot seems to be bringing its robot culture into the Korean classroom: rather than sticking to its subject, the robot seems to take the classroom time as an opportunity to indoctrinate the students in robot culture, in order to make the students think and behave like it. I have noticed the students holding up blue cards when they do not understand my instructions, the way the robot does, and moving stiffly and in unison.

When the students are emotional and speak with that charming Korean up and down intonation, rather than respecting their human and Korean features, it always responds in flat monotones, until the students also behave like robots.

Worst of all, the students have been behaving in logical, calculating ways, considering options and choosing the one with the most likely positive results, rather than doing things the Korean ways that we have been doing for thousands of years: when I made Jong-seung stand in a stress position for two hours, rather than bowing his head and scraping to my authority as teacher, his parents filed a complaint to the Board of Education’s discipline advisory board, and I am now under investigation, all because this robot has been teaching students to reject Korean ways and Korean culture, and embrace strange, foreign, robotic, logical ways.

While it is true that every parent dreams of having children who speak English well, there must be a better way than bringing these abominable robots into the classroom!


Anonymous said...

Active X controls. nice

Ajay said...


"it peeled his skin off like an overripe pear, without even a second warning!".....Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

At least robot teachers won't molest students like most of the dirty foreigners in public schools at present.

- Bryan

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about that, Bryan? So far, as many foreign English teachers have been convicted for molesting Korean kids in the classroom as robots have.