Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With a Male Teacher Who Taught in Korea! by Mike Prochaska
Are you enjoying all my interviews with men in early childhood education from all around the globe? Recently, I interviewed a person who wanted to stay anonymous about his adventures in teaching in Korea! It took me a while to get the person to answer my questions, but after a little arm twisting they took time out of their busy day to answer my questions.
Q. Where do you currently live?
Q. What made you decide to want to teach in Korea?
"I was looking for a change in my life, and some acquaintances had just returned from Korea and let us know that it was a friendly place where one could easily find a job, so my fiancé and I decided that we would give it a shot."
Q. Can you tell us who have never been to Korea what it's like to live there?
"Very crowded, but quite friendly, beautiful mountains and spicy food. The language is difficult to learn but the folks are forgiving when you try. What is most beautiful and unique about Korea is threatened by globalization – Western consumer culture."
Q. Where did you work or what age group?
"I worked in a number of different settings. I began by teaching very young children and eventually spent time teaching college freshman. Along the way, I taught older adults and other teachers as well. I taught mainly in Seoul."
Q. What are the advantages of being a man in education? What do men bring to the classroom in Korea? Are there men in the classrooms there?
"Everywhere. Korea, much like North America, is a patriarchy and sexism exists. Much like here, most elementary school teachers are female and high school seems to be 50/50."
Q. What's your favorite memory working with kids?
"Maybe one of my favorite moments was when one kid snuck a baby bird into class (he had paid another child 50 cents for it). He couldn’t keep the bird in class and he let me know that his mother would likely not let him have it at home either. I asked the class what, then, were we to do about the bird? They let me know that they would work it out amongst themselves, given time. This was the result: Two columns – one with all of our names (perhaps eight in all) and the other with our new familial relation to the bird, like parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. They identified the baby bird’s primary problem – it had no family – and solved it. We would become its family."
Q. What's your favorite activities to do with your kids?
"Hard to say. I did very much enjoy singing with them."
Q. Anything inspiring to tell anyone thinking of going into this field?
"Nothing inspirational. Just be humble. Try to learn rather than know everything."
Q. Do they value play and recess in Korea? Art class? Gym class?
"Every child values play! It’s my experience that schools in Korea are very competitive places – even more so than in North America."
Editor's Note: The name has been omitted to protect the person's privacy, as requested.
Photo: A chalkboard with the question, "Do you speak Korean" written in Korean and the flag of South Korea