Archive for May, 2012

Encouraging creativity in your students

May 31, 2012

I recently gave a talk at the 2012 KOTESOL National Conference entitled “Creativity in the classroom”.  My presentation slides are here and Jeff leBow at Koreabridge recorded the talk.

I think I gave an excellent 80 minute speech: it is a shame I gave it in 50 minutes.  Indeed, my voice is high-pitched enough you might think I just spoke that much faster.



Mosquito control for the region

May 31, 2012

The Korea Times has an article describing efforts to reduce mosquito numbers.  The main effort shown in photos is the use of pesticide fogging machines.

Newcomers to Korea are often horrified seeing children playing in the fog.  It looks fun and adults don’t seem to mind.  I don’t know what compounds are used but I can’t imagine that it is healthy.  R. Elgin at the Marmot’s Hole is particularly bothered by it: 1,2, ah, just follow the results of this search.  I’ve written about my distaste for it, too: 1, 2.

Still, mosquitos are a problem to be dealt with.  One big factor is emptying stagnant basins of water.  Farm fields are places where basins and rain-catchers are common and these need to be emptied or screened over to reduce locations for mosquito larvae to mature.

Who wrote this? Who would write this?

May 25, 2012


I can understand the thrill of writing ‘bad’ words into the cement as it dried, but the number of people who would write the medical terms, in English, has to be limited… Although I am now thinking of doing something similar should opportunity arise. “excrement”, “Sexual intercourse”, “Female dog”…

Draw Muhammad Day

May 21, 2012

This is my most controversial drawing of Muhammad. Previously, I had him playing soccer and arguing with Harold Camping (2/3 of the way down – the third ‘Brian’).  My previous drawings were relatively innocent but this one picks the low-hanging fruit of his marriage to a nine-year-old when he was in his 50’s.

I have also discussed burning the Koran(do).

The goal here is not necessarily to be blasphemous but to point out the absurdity of demanding people in other religious groups follow your teachings in all cases.

Blasphemy: its a victimless crime.

Supporting scientific research and education

May 20, 2012

Updated again: From io9, comes news that Korean scientists are contesting the restrictions.  Ah, they link to a Nature blog, which says this:

A group of 30 South Korean evolutionary scientists and palaeontologists has released a statement condemning a successful campaign by the creationist group Society for Textbook Reform (STR) to remove some examples of evolution from high-school biology textbooks

According to the scientists, the STR petition contained so much unverified data, intentional distortion and biased quotes that it would not normally be worth their time to engage with, but because it had been successful, they felt they had no choice but to make an official response.

Updated: Gord Sellar expands on the subject and offers an explanation.

Original post:

Someone on Facebook linked to this article about the teaching of evolution in Korea.  Apparently, two icons of evolution will be removed from the updated textbooks: Archaeopteryx (spelled it right on my first try!) and the series of horse transitional fossils.

The article claims that the move is due to pressure from a Christian organization and the article tries to show how the education of evolution is being diminished, but also explains that the series of whale transitional fossils will be added so I am not sure how much of a difference there is.

It seems that Haeckel’s  phylogeny recapitulation theory is included in current textbooks (and has long been known to be false) and will be removed in the new books.  I wonder about this claim:  Haeckel used diagrams of featae ( what is the plural of ‘fetus’) and deliberately drew them looking more similar than they actually were.  On the other hand, modern texts -for reasons other than the recapitulation theory- often use photos so the the similarities shown are actual and relevant to the discussion on their own merits.

A day after reading about evolution education, I noted a Nature article about a research institute being considered in Korea.  An excerpt:

The government last year enacted a law to develop a project called the International Science and Business Belt (ISBB), of which the IBS is one of the main initiatives. The ISBB project will have 5.17 trillion won (US$4.4 billion) until 2017 to run the IBS and build the nation’s first rare-isotope accelerator, among other projects.

Thinking big

The IBS plans to attract 3,000 researchers and staff members to 50 research centres in Daejeon and around the country. Each centre will have an average annual budget of 10 billion won, and will be directed by a world-class scientist, employed on a 10-year contract. The directors will be given a great deal of autonomy to decide on a research focus, recruit staff and run their centres.

KOTESOL National Conference 2012!

May 14, 2012

The conference is here in Busan on the 26th!

KOTESOL national Conference website.

Koreabridge link to the event.

The goshdarn website is down again, but if you can, register on or before the 18th to get the re-reg discount.

Conference Timetable
9:15-10:00       REGISTRATION
10:00-10:20       Opening Ceremony
10:30-11:20       PLENARY SESSION: Tim Murphey (link to Abstract/Bio)
11:30-12:20       Featured/Invited Sessions & Pecha Kucha
12:30-1:20         LUNCH
1:30-2:20          Concurrent Presentations (50 mins)
2:30-4:00         Training Workshops (90mins)
4:00-4:50         Concurrent Presentations (50 mins)
5:00-5:50         PLENARY SESSION: Marc Helgesen (link to Abstract/Bio)
5:50-6:00         Raffle Draw
6:00-6:15         Closing
6:30                 Reception Dinner  (off-site, all invited, pay your own way)


Plenary Speakers

  • Tim Murphey (Kanda University of International Studies in Tokyo)
  • Marc Helgesen (Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University, Sendai, Japan)

Dr. Tim Murphey’s plenary talk is titled: “Drive: Putting Students at the Wheel with Agency, Identity, and Altruism.”
“Once there was a country where there were almost no cars and the people in this country realized that for their growing economy it would be good to have a more mobile population with bus drivers, taxi drivers, and even individual car owners who could get around by themselves. The people in power reasoned  . . .” Come to Tim’s talk to find out where we are driving.

Prof. Marc Helgesen’s plenary is titled: “Happiness 2.0: New Ideas from the Science of Well-Being.
“Happy students learn more, work harder on tasks, and approach those tasks with enthusiasm – all keys to creating and focusing learner drive. Positive Psychology explores happiness, positive emotion, and those things that allow us to flourish.”

Featured Speakers

  • Dr. Hyesun Cho from the University of Kansas
  • George Scholz from RELO at the US Embassy
  • Special panel on English Education in Korea

Also on the program:
A broad array of presentations by local and national level speakers on a wide variety of topics focusing on the needs of Korea’s classroom English teachers. Including: Brian Dean, Lindsay Mack [the link is to ‘a’ Lindsay Mack involved in ESL.  I presume it is the same one.], Mizuka Tsukamoto, Amelie Kelly, April Abate, Phillipa Arthur, Alex Grevett, Thomas Baldwin, Scott Miles, Leonie Overbeek, Kenneth Moore, Tory Thorkelson, Steve Garrigues, Colin Walker, James Underwood, Rocky Nelson, Ksan Rubadeau, James Garner, Nico Lorenzutti, Alonzo Williams, Joseph Vitta, Ju A Hwang, Andee Pollard, Nate Kent, Martin Tuttle, Peadar Callaghan, and Roger Fusselman.



First planting for rice in 2012

May 10, 2012

I have discussed farming, and rice farming in particular, on this blog many times but am posting this as an actual log or journal entry.  In Gangwondo, I kept track of the first snowfall through my seven years in residence there and the record became more interesting as more data points were added.

On May 9th of 2010, I was involved in the first planting of rice. This year, it was may 5th, although there was more to do after we left.

A lot of rice farming is done with machines but there are many steps to the process so we were busy enough.  First, the rice seeds are soaked in some mystery liquid – I presume it was connected with fertilizer or pesticide.  Then the seeds are placed in trays and left to sprout until the trays look like they are full of grass sod.  This is the first planting.  Then, after a month or so, the sod trays are loaded into a machine that plants them in flooded fields and they are left until harvest – with a few visits for spraying pesticide and such.  Around October, the rice is harvested.

Here are my first-planting photos for this year.




8 years ago, I wrote about farming at my earlier blog and I wanted to access that material here so this is the link.