#10 - Poop pleasure
I consider myself a fairly open-minded person. I can see both sides to a story and I think I have a pretty lenient mind as far as what goes. But still… occasionally, there are some things that I just don’t understand.
The other day while teaching my third graders the expressions “is this your ________?” and “do you have a/some _________?”, I was reminded of one the oddities in Korean culture that I am yet to fully wrap my head around.
There is not really a way to ease into this, so I’ll just go right ahead and say it.
Korea is fascinated with poop.
It is cute, apparently. I don’t know. Don’t ask… I haven’t the slightest idea why. But still, I often see feces take the form of cute cartoon characters sporting a chipper smile and cute dimples. Recently, in Seoul, I walked by a vendor selling little statues of President Obama and Santa Claus with their pants down, sporting a big smile, and hovering over a steaming pile. And they were selling.
In the case of my most recent third grade lesson, it had been taken a step further - a handy tool to assist in the learning of a foreign language.
Allow me to explain.
Our textbooks contain a CD-Rom that is meant to assist the teachers and contains songs and videos to be projected on the T.V. screen for the students to see; pretty standard in textbooks and classes everywhere.
Last week my class and I start tackling chapter 9. The key expressions of chapter 9, as I mentioned, are “Is this your _________?” and “Do you have a/some/my/etc. ________?” Great. It’s a useful expression. It should be fairly easy to teach. So I’ve presented the material to the class and my students can understand the question and response of “Yes, that’s my ________.” or “No, that’s not my ________.”
We’re moving through the chapter and we finally come upon a listening section entitled “Role Play”, which contains a short animated video clip. The video clip is set in some sort of traditional Korean village and the main characters consist of an old man, an old lady, a young man, and a duck. The scene went as follows:
The old lady approaches the old man’s door. She gives a knock knock. The door opens with a creak.
"Helloooo" says the old man.
"Helloooo, how are youuuu?" says the old lady (I don’t have a heavy finger. All of the characters seem to extend the last sound of each sentence.)
"I’m goooooood" the old man replies.
The greeting is made and the two of them exit the old man’s house and walk across his courtyard, remaining silent, at which point they pass a duck who is swallowing a ring that is as large around as his neck. The old couple miss this event and the old lady interrupts the silent stroll through the courtyard and asks the old man “Where is your ringgggggg?”
The old man seems to go into a panic and is seen running back and forth in his courtyard looking for his ring.
Enter young man… the innocent young ruffian of our story.
In an accusing way, the old man says to the young man “Do you have my ringggggg?”
"Nooo, I don’t!" exclaims the young man.
The old lady, seeming to side with her old man friend instantly finds some rope and ties the young mans hands behind his back. Regardless of the fact that the old man and the old lady have no evidence for this absurd accusation, the young man is nonetheless guilty for now and will have to undergo further interrogation in the old mans courtyard.
"Yes, you dooooo" responds the old man, "you have my ringggggg!"
"No, I don’tttttt!" the young man insists.
What follows is a completely unexpected little surprise…
Re-enter our savior, the duck, who innocently strolls up next to the young man and proceeds to do what any duck would do in this situation. He takes a MASSIVE crap in the old man’s courtyard.
The over-sized duck turd is conveniently topped off with… you guessed it, the old man’s ring; as if it were the cherry on a chocolate sundae. I meanwhile am sitting in the back of the classroom, enjoying this spectacle of entertainment and education all rolled into one dazzling 60 second animation clip.
"Is THIS your ringgggg?" exclaims the young man, who is patiently waiting to be set free from his rope handcuffs.
"Yes, it issssss! I’m sorryyyyy, thank you!!" the old man says as he delightfully seizes control of his poo tainted ring and proudly holds it in the air for all to see.
"You’re welcomeeee! Goodbyeee!" says our joyful little young man.
And… end scene.
"Ok class, what did you hear?" I pipe in, back to reality but still thinking to myself what in the hell was that?!
I mean, really? Really? Out of all the ways to teach “Is this your ________?” and “Do you have a _________?”, that’s what the design crew came up with?
I can picture just how that meeting must have gone:
Stressed out boss is sitting at the head of a boardroom table and asks his creative team, “OK everyone, what do we have going for the Role Play section of chapter nine?”
A very young and eager designer named Greg raises his hand and gives his idea.
"Well" he enthusiastically says, "I was thinking… what if we incorporate some kind of lost or misplaced item with an odd little misunderstanding?"
"I like it, I like it… go on" says the boss.
"OK, well we could have one of the characters lose something, maybe a ring, and then have some kind of animal like a dog or a duck swallow the ring without anyone knowing. And then maybe the ring’s owner could wrongly accuse a young passer by. Then, the duck could jump into the scene and poop out the ring, revealing the truth, the owner could find it and everyone can be happy!"
"Brilliant, Greg. Absolutely brilliant" says the boss. "It’s cute, it’s mysterious, it’s funny, and there’s a moral. Let’s get a storyboard made up and run it. Everyone dismissed."
My students and my co-teacher didn’t even so much as flinch in response to the duck dump or the entire story line as a whole but what can I say, I must be the odd ball.
I, personally feel like I could have thought of one or two other ways to present the subject matter at hand, but what the hell… poop and English seem to bring it home just fine.
Happy Thanksgiving all.