If you could invent and attend any sort of classes that have great teachers and motivating students in them, what would your choices be?
Here are mine:
- World History (세계사) – History classes can be very dull, but also insanely fascinating. The challenge about World History is that there are so many topics to cover that I wouldn’t know where to start. However, I do have those wonderful five-book series about world history at home in Korea. I’ll have to brush the dust off the books as soon as I land in Incheon.
Personally I never had a WH class at school. Sure, we learned about the Egyptians in grade 6, European Middle Ages in grade 7 and WWI and WWII in 9th grade. Post-WWII in Germany in grade 10, after we learned about Weimarer Republic and repeated WW2. In first semester (Grade 11, first semester) we went back to the Greeks in classical antiquity. In second (Grade 11, second semester), we fast-forwarded to French Revolution, a subject we had briefly touched upon in the 8th grade. In third semester (Grade 12, first semester), the subject was once again Weimarer Republic, Nazi Regime and WWII. The last semester (Grade 12, second, short semester) covered the Cold War and the rise and fall of GDR.
I’d gone to enough museums as a child to cover 구석기, 신석기, 청동기 and 철기. My aunt (큰이모) also taught me about Mesopotamia and the ancient Greeks when I was in the fourth grade. Pity I didn’t appreciate the lessons more. The upside is that the books are still there.
But I know almost nothing about the Asian History. Sure, I’d read books on Korean history when I was little (I was a weird kid, come to think about it) so I know about the 삼국 시대 and 조선, 임진왜란 and 일제 강점기 (Japanese occupation of Korea – a part of history that is often forgotten in many countries, including, yes, Germany. It didn’t even get a tiny mention.). More recently, 육이오 전쟁 (Korean War) . But those are only chunks of information that are so shallow that I only know the events happened. So World History it is.
- French – Oh, French! La langue très belle! Et très compliquée!
I think I would have loved French and spoken it fluently by now if I had met the right teachers.
In the seventh grade I encountered my second (technically the third) foreign language. It was taught by a very nice but kind of feeble madame. Kids talked in class. They cheated in tests. She did. Not. Do. Anything. By the end of the 8th grade, my French sucked, even though I was one of the best in the class.
However, my ninth grade French teacher was worse. A boorish and moody man he was, who talked with strange accent and flew by the materials without understandable explanation.
Now, my tenth grade teacher, she was brilliant. A truly amazing teacher who has (thankfully) found her calling as a teacher. I learned more in that one year than all three previous years combined. The lesson was challenging, and for the first time in my life, I did not get an A on my report card. Still, I learned about the difference between imparfait and passé composé and future simple. J’ai parlé et écrit français. Mon français était en train d’être très bien.
Well, then the year was over. In retrospect I kind of regret not having taken French during the Oberstufe.
- World Literature – What reader would I be if I wasn’t interested in the century-shaping works of authors all across the globe? Seriously though, I’m just curious. I only know a few from UK, Ireland, US, Germany and France. A couple from Russia (Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy), almost none from Korea. So, I want to fix that.
- British Literature – British literature is the one that I know most about but I also want to dig deeper – not just Shakespeare, Dickens, Brontë and Austen (I love the Brontës and Austen’s fun – although her language is sparse). I’m almost giddy when I think about learning more in this subject! I totally would have majored in here if my future life didn’t depend on my major.
Because English is a foreign language in Germany, the teachers concentrated more on grammar than literature. In fact, we have never read a classic together in class.
- World Religion – I’m an atheist, although certain aspects of pagan religions have touched my life and changed it irreversibly (in a good way). One of the reason why I don’t call myself a pagan is because I don’t believe in Deities. (Of course, you can also be an atheist pagan. I hope I someday will be one.) I respect other people’s gods and goddesses, but I still continue to doubt their existence.
So religion, and the wars -both visible and invisible- caused in the name of gods, fascinate me in a sick way like you can’t look away from a car accident. I don’t mean religions are sick. Just that I feel sick when I hear about all those mindless killings because the believers are SO SURE that their God is the right one.
So those “three big religions” -Christianity, Judaism and Islam- I want to cover, but also Buddhism and Pagan Religions and religions from Ancient Egypt, India and so much more.
- Physics – As a high schooler, I’d hated Physics. My teachers mostly sucked, and for the life of me I couldn’t grasp the concept of electromagnetism. So if I could, I’d like to learn the basics of Physics again.
- Chemistry – Same here, although I had more luck with teachers (except for the last two) and have learned more than basic knowledge. Still, more!
You won’t hear me pining about Math, Biology, Music, Art and Computer Science. That’s because I had excellent teachers and learned enough so that I am satisfied with my knowledge on Math and Biology, because I have no real interest in Music and Art as such (I love songs and paintings as much as the next person.) and because I already know my brain refuses to work with Computer Science. Some areas I excelled at in Elective Computer Science, and others I just sucked.