Caveat: Pervasive Corruption

Yesterday (Wednesday), I had a brief discussion, via Kakao chat, with my friend Peter over the nature of the recent spate of deadly "accidents" and disasters that seem to be befalling South Korea. There was the ferry boat sinking last month, there was the fire at the bus terminal on Monday here in Goyang, and yesterday another fire at a nursing home or something. There were some subway crashes, too, last month. 

The public sentiment seems to be that there is a big problem with corruption as being an underlying cause or correlate of the neglect of public safety in these events. I pondered this after our brief chat, because I decided it might make an interesting debate topic.

I did something I haven't done much, so far, but I consider it to be the ultimate objective of my debate teaching: I went from "chosen topic" to actual debate in a single class period. At the start of class, I explained the topic, which immediately grabbed the kids attention because it was topical. I then crafted a proposition on the fly, which was something like this: "The recent spate of disasters in Korea (ferry sinking, fires, etc) indicates a problem of pervasive corruption."

We brainstormed some as to what would be some PRO and CON reasons, and I ran to my desk for a moment, went online, and found a recent and older editorial from the Korean English-language press on the topic of corruption, which I printed out. We did not read these exhaustively – rather, I presented the materials as a sort of instant research resource. Then we assigned sides and I said, "OK, 20 minutes." After the kids had prepared their ideas, we had our debate.

Normally the class has four students, which is perfect for debate – 2 to each side. However, one student was absent, so I stepped in and took a position in the line-up. When I do this, I handicap myself by denying myself the opportunity to adequately prepare – I have to speak completely off-the-cuff. As such, I would say my 2 speeches are less well organized than those of my students, even if they are, obviously, of higher quality in terms of referentiality and nativeness of the English. 

So here's the debate. I think these students did really well with short notice and a difficult topic. Even though I'd told my friend Peter I thought there was, indeed, corruption, notice that I'm taking the CON side of the debate below, with my student James, against the girls Jisoo and Andrea.

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