There has been a lot of talk here recently about the match between Argentina and Korea. During dinner last night some of my coworkers asked me who I thought would win and my guess was that the game would end in a draw, which seemed to surprise everyone. The following class period saw one of my students - a boy in his first year of middle school - also bring up the subject and I gave him the same answer. When I asked for his own opinion about the outcome his reply was,
"Oh, Korea can't win. I went to the store and put money [bet?] that we will lose."
I see someone doesn't have much faith in the abilities of the Korean national team. Many of the younger students at our academy - ranging from third grade to fifth grade in elementary school - are confident of a Korean victory while the middle school students are much more noncommittal in their replies. Must be the onset of cynicism developing there. Heh. As a joke - and something that came to mind after an experience with a different class a few weeks ago - I teased him with the rejoinder, "Hey, are you Korean?"
The two sides met during the 1986 World Cup with one of the lasting images from their encounter involving Maradona (now coach of the Argentina national team) and Huh Jung-Moo (now coach of the South Korean national team) getting tangled up on the pitch. Maradona looks like he came out second-best in that one, though the team went on to win the game 3-1.
A few weeks ago while teaching a lesson on pentagons in an intermediate-level class I decided to review the various types of polygons with the three students. We went through triangles, rectangles, pentagons, hexagons, heptagons, octagons, nonagons, and decagons -- at which point I thought we'd be done. However, one of the two girls in class asked me what a twelve-sided polygon is called. The first thing that came to mind was 'dodecagon', but since I wasn't entirely sure I added that I would double-check and let her know if that was correct or not. This prompted the boy in class to remark,
"Teacher, are you American? Why don't you know that?"
"Do you know the capital of the Balhae Empire?" *
"Umm ... no."
"Why not? Are you Korean?"
"Ahhh ... teacher!"
That last one was said in a tone of voice that suggested he realized exactly what I was getting at, but for the benefit of the other students I explained how being from the United States doesn't mean that I automatically know everything in English, and especially not when it comes to more specialized terms. (That, and there's obviously something to be said in favor of getting one's facts straight when teaching information to students.) Similarly, just because he was Korean didn't mean that he knows everything about Korean-related history. The girl who had asked about twelve-sided polygons picked up on this immediately but, to my surprise, the other girl in class raised her hand to ask "What is Balhae?". In near-perfect unison her classmates turned to her and said,
"Hey, are you Korean?!"
* I deliberately chose the Balhae Empire as an example because not only is it an area where the students likely hadn't learned as much, but also because it had five different capitals between 698-926CE.