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Friday, February 13, 2009

What Grades Really Meant to My Parents

Anyone with Korean parents will probably tell you the same. But any flavor of hard-chargin' parents will probably have the same definitions for grades. Here's a table with the grade, the meaning of the grade in the education system, and the Korean meaning of the grade. The first letter of the Korean description matches the letter grade, in case you don't notice.

GradeSystem meaningKorean meaning
AExcellentAcceptable
BAbove AverageBAD
CAverageCut off your head
DPoorDEATH
FFailingFind another place to live

Where I went to school, the grades seemed to be shifted a bit. B was an average grade, C was slightly below average, D stood for dumb, and F meant..well...F.

I am lucky to have never tested what would happen if I brought home a D or an F. One time in 4th grade, I got a C in math. My parents made me think that the fate of the universe might hang on that C. Nope, none of this "do your best and that's okay" nonsense here ;) More like "do your best or face the fires of Hades."

The only time that my parents were ho-hum about a C was when I switched schools in February in 6th grade. February is not exactly the beginning of the year, and one of the 6th grade subjects at my new school was Latin. So everyone else had about a 6 month head start, and I somehow ended up getting a C.

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12 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Smockity Frocks

    When I taught 4th grade, I had a student who had come straight from Korea that year. She spoke NO English. She managed to make straight A's, though, and it amazed me that she always made perfect scores on the spelling tests.

    Her name was Bao Hahn Doan, but she wanted to be called Monique.(?)

  • JunkMale

    In the interest of full disclosure, I don't think I had it as bad as kids actually in Korea. The pressure gets worse the closer you get to college. But I hear that college is no worse than (might even be less) pre-college.

    I think something might be getting lost in translation about our Bao Hahn Doan. Was Bao pronounced like "bow"? If so, that would be the first time I've seen a Korean name that has that sort of sound. Korean syllables usually only have one pure vowel sound (monophthong, if you want to get technical), whereas Bao is a diphthong (has both an "ah" and "oo" sound).

  • Harmony

    Okay, I have to correct your Korean, my dear. ;-) There are many diphthongs in Korean, just not of the 'ao' variety. The opposite ('oa') is very common, but it's pronounced more like "wa". There's also the ee + vowel diphthong, which ends up sounding like "ya" or "yo", for example. In fact, all the vowels except for the basic six (a, eo, o, u, ee, eu) are technically considered diphthongs.

    That being said, Bao is a very unusual Korean name. It sounds much more Chinese to me. Doan is also an unusual syllable. Was it pronounced "dwan" or "do-an"? If the first, that would be the first time I'd heard of those letters being strung together in Korean. If the second, it would be a very unusual name with more than two syllables in the given name (unless Doan is the family name, in which case it's still unusual because family names are nearly always one syllable).

    If you take away the Bao, the name reads like a very Korean name: Hahn Do-an.

  • Smockity Frocks

    Hmmm... Okay, now I'm going to be racking my brain trying to remember! I thought I would never forget her, but I could very well be wrong. It was 1992. A few things have demanded my attention since then.

    (I don't know about any of the pronunciations since I called her "Monique". I just [thought] I remembered her name from the written records.)

  • Laura

    Yikes, I think I'd rather get an F than a C or D! lol

    My parents were never that intense with us, but I think I imposed a similar scale on myself in high school.

  • Sherry

    Note to Laura-probably because your best friend at the time was Korean & she pushed herself, hence so did you. It made for easy parenting as we had to do the opposite, take the pressure off of you instead of add more.

  • eeyore-fan

    I honestly don't think they got that disappointed about Bs. In fact, I got straight As on a report card (per term/semester) once in 4th grade and then not again till 10th grade. If I mentioned that I got a B on a test now, they are like, "good job!"

  • CappuccinoLife

    lol. My dh has that grade scale for our children.

    Good to know you turned out alright in spite of that high pressure.

  • Smockity Frocks

    Okay, now I'm terribly embarrassed, but upon further remembering, it may have been that Vietnam was her country of origin.
    ~blushing~

  • JunkMale

    Ah, Vietnamese. That sounds more like it.

    (don't worry, it was a long time ago, and you are, after all, not Asian yourself)

  • Headmistress, zookeeper

    This post made me laugh out loud. My father is not Asian (mostly Irish background) and he had a similar scale, except there were only three options.
    A was expected.
    B was grudgingly accepted, but he was very disgruntled about it and wanted a good explanation as to why.
    C was failing. That's what he told me, and he said it like he meant it. I had long arguments with him about C being average, and he always ended those arguments by saying, "But average is failing."

    I never could figure out if he understood what it meant, but was trying to make a point, or if he really simply could not wrap his head around the concept of 'average' being acceptable.

  • Homeschoolin' hot-rodders

    LOL both my parents were school teachers and this was the scale used around our house LOL. My mom was a less strict than my father. She thought a B was "ok." What was even worse than that you ask? Having to get spankings because of the dreaded (and often repeated) "talks with friends too much" commentary on the report card LOL