Cheorwon / Culture / Teaching

It’s not official unless it has a banner

Things in Korea tend to be done by the book. Sometimes things done at school don’t make sense to me, but it comes down to how it appears. One such example is with the banners. There are banners for everything. Festivals and big events get banners, as do seemingly small things. 

I once was shocked at a teachers dinner. The dinner was being hosted by the English department and was to prepare us for a big presentation with the provincial office of education regarding our English program. We got a banner made with the date of the dinner and hung it at the restaurant. My co-teacher made a packet of information about the English program. We got to the dinner and I realized that we were the only people from the English department who would be attending. I helped her pass out the packets to all the other teachers, she asked everyone to look at them while she took a few pictures (being careful to get the banner in the background) and then she collected the packets and we got on with our meal. No one actually read anything or talked about the program. The whole event was for show so we could use the pictures later.

My English camp, which is justifiably a big deal in the amount of time I spend prepping, also gets an English banner. It hangs in the classroom where the 24 students and I can see it. On the last day, my co-teacher removes it and throws it away. This banner costs 44,000 won to have made. That’s about $40. I really wonder how much of the school’s budget is allotted toward banners and what the return on investment on those are.

The lonely banner, seconds before we ripped it down.

The lonely banner, seconds before we ripped it down.

But this picture does look pretty official now, don't you think?

But this picture does look pretty official now, don’t you think?

It there's an English camp in the woods, but no banner to prove it's official, does it make a sound?

“Walking in the English woods” elementary school English camp

But, I guess the banner makes everything official. I mean, if there’s an English camp in the woods without a banner, does it even make a sound? 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “It’s not official unless it has a banner

  1. Terrific closing statement…have always wanted to ‘know’ the answer to the orig. statement…this could be just as elusive… You are right..the banners sure do make it all ‘official’.

  2. “This banner costs 44,000 won to have made. That’s about $40. I really wonder how much of the school’s budget is allotted toward banners and what the return on investment on those are.”

    Exactly. I get that the camp should look “official” and important, but a lot of money does get spent on banners.

    Here’s a thought: I’ve come across papers for the fees the kids have to pay for various extra classes. Would the banner costs be included in there?

    • I’m not sure about how the whole budget works. I am pretty sure my students do not have to pay a fee to attend English camp, but we do have a fairly big budget to work with. I think they do have to pay for extra classes though, and teachers get extra pay for those classes. (Contract teachers and myself do not get extra pay as long as the total hours don’t exceed 22 teaching hours.) I had no budget for my extra class, but my school let me squeeze a few materials I wanted into the English department budget, so that was nice.

      I’ve heard of schools giving no budget whatsoever for camps. I am happy that my school has allowed me to get pretty much everything I asked for. If buying that banner meant less materials for the kids, it would be annoying. But luckily that was not the case.

    • Ah! I love that you just shared the similarities between “The Big Lebowski” and banners in Korea. Thanks for the comments! It’s nice to know people are reading 🙂

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