Culture / Teaching

The bow-bob-nod-wave

When in doubt, just bow. Image from

When in doubt, just bow.
Image from

You may have heard of the Korean Wave. This is the term given for the popularity of Korean culture that is sweeping across the world.

I have my own Korean wave, something I like to call the “bow-bob-nod-wave.”

Koreans bow to one another when saying hello, and often when leaving as well. Doesn’t sound too tough, right? Well now add in walking. You are walking through school and see another teacher walking toward you. Both of you sort of bow quickly, say hello and move on. Still not that tough, right?

Now add in some new variables, and you’ll see why I’m often confused. Sometimes I begin my bow and a teacher gives me a wave and a “hi.” Maybe he thinks to himself, she’s American. I should use her language and be nice. And it is appreciated. But the problem is that I can never tell who will do this and who won’t. Some people do it and some people don’t. This results in me starting my bow, and then bobbing up quickly and throwing out a wave. Sometimes now I wave while someone else bows, and I quickly try to redeem myself with a bow as the other person moves on.

I see one of my third-graders every morning on my walk to school, and he has perfected the bow on his bicycle to me. Some students bow to me, as they do to the Korean teachers, but most give me a hello and a wave. But then there are the in-betweeners, who start the bow and “anyen… oh, uh hello!” they cry as they bob back up and try to throw in a wave. They must have learned those moves from me!

*Matt’s 2 cents:
I also have times when I automatically bow slightly to some students or younger people and they giggle to me.


3 thoughts on “The bow-bob-nod-wave

  1. “Perfected the bow on his bicycle”…..that’s great…..a “bicycle bow”….a bow that could actually be quite dangerous.

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