It was 4 o’clock in the morning. I woke up and studied Korean downstairs, as I always do. I was reading “Live from Seoul” published by Japan Times (it’s in Japanese). I studied announcements in Korean at subways in Seoul, such as: “the next stop is Shicheong Station. You can change trains at line no. 1 if you want to go to Suweon…”. I liked the thought that I would be prepared if I ever had a chance to go to Seoul. By the way, if you’re learning Japanese, you might want to check out “Live from Tokyo”.
At 4.30, my 7-year-old son got up and sit near me. I asked him why he got up so early and he answered he got a test at school today so he wanted to study for the test.
I said, OK, let me see what you need to study. He handed me his “communication book” and I checked whether there was a message from his teacher about the test. It only said “Thematic 1B” which is a title of a textbook my son owned. The teacher’s message didn’t say which chapter of the book would be tested. Could it be the whole book?
I turned over the pages, and I decided I didn’t really care about the contents and I didn’t see the importance for a seven-year-old boy to memorize the facts mentioned in the book. I discussed some pages a little with him, saying,”See here. You need to memorize this and that…” but soon I gave up because there were too many pages.
And then I told him,”OK, then, just sit and study any part you want”.
He looked disappointed and asked,”That’s all?”
“That’s all what?”
“You’re not going to teach me?”
Ah… so that’s the message he got about “studying”: if an adult doesn’t teach me, I can’t study or learn anything. I’m not capable of learning anything on my own.
I told him, “Studying is not something that others do to you. It’s something you do for yourself.”
I doubted whether he could understand me because at that moment, my husband got in the room and started teaching him.
I always wondered why strangers send me private messages saying,”Please teach me Korean! Teach me Korean so I can learn!”, while I made it clear that I’m learning Korean on my own. My son just gave me the answer.
I got up, went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, and tried not to be sad about it. ###