Spot the Difference

Let’s “Meat”

Some of the meat dishes I tried here in South Korea are somewhat similar to the meat dishes in the Philippines.

kalbi
갈비탕 – Galbitang

One Korean beef dish that reminds me so much of our own “nilagang baka” (Filipino beef stew with clear broth) is 갈비탕 (galbitang/kalbitang).

Kalbi, in English, is short ribs. When Filipinos cook beef stew, it’s also the ribs of the cow they choose. But while in the Philippines we add Chinese chard, potato, cabbage and saba (a banana variety used primarily for cooking), with kalbitang, added are radish, enoki mushrooms dangmyeon (starch noodles) and onions. In a restaurant, I was once served kalbitang with egg. I was also told that it can also be cooked with kimchi. That I have not tried yet.

Tang means soup. Synonymous to tang is another Korean word – guk. Thus, if at the end of the name of a certain Korean dish there’s either tang or guk, expect that the meat is cooked with soup.

Samgyetang

삼계탕 (samgyetang) for example is soupy chicken dish. It is comparable to the Filipinos’ tinolang manok (chicken stew) which is cooked with either green papaya or chayote and ginger.  Samgyetang  consists primarily of a whole young  chicken stuffed with garlic, rice, jujube, and ginseng. If you add ginger, pepper, and either papaya (not ripe) or chayote,  it will taste like the Filipino chicken dish called chicken tinola (chicken stew in ginger broth and vegetables). But while chicken tinola the chicken is chopped into small pieces, with samgyetang the young chicken is cooked whole.

While samgyetang is a popular summer stamina food, Filipinos love eating this chicken tinola during cold and rainy days. Koreans troop to samgyetang restaurants in summer, particularly  during the so-called three dog days of summer (or three hottest days of summer.)

The Filipino in me make me go for samgyetang  during autumn and winter. They’re perfect  for the cold days and nights during those seasons.

Another Korean meat dish that has striking similarities with another famous Filipino food is 설렁탕 (seolleongtang). For kalbitang, the part of the cow used are the ribs but for this dish called ox-bone soup in English it’s the leg bones. Usually prepared with spring onions only but one time I have tried one with radish and thin wheat flour noodles. It’s similar to Philippines’ bulalo (beef marrow stew.)

What about pork dishes?

I’m familiar with two… one of which is actually my favorite. These two Korean pork dishes is not like any of the pork dishes I got accustomed to in the Philippines. They are uniquely Korean.

gamje
감자탕 – Gamjatang

The first one is 감자탕 (gamjatang). It’s pork neck bones that are used to make this Korean meat dish and usually cooked with potatoes (primarily) and other vegetables. There seems to be a disagreement among Korean food experts as to what gamja in gamjatang refers to – is it the potato or meat around the pork spines bones? So, it’s not settled yet as to how should it be called in English – spicy pork bone stew or potato stew. For the meantime, forget about the name. Just enjoy the taste.

The next Korean meat dish I wish to feature in this article (and actually my favorite among the meat dishes here in South Korea) … is 뼈해장국  (ppyeo haejangguk).

pyo3
뼈해장국  – Ppyeo Haejangguk

Others would simply call it haejangguk, which means, according to existing literature, hang-over soup. I’m more used to calling it ppyeo haejangguk for that’s how it’s written in the menus of restaurant where I ate them. One thing that I have noticed is that it is somewhat similar to gamjatang minus the potatoes. Both are spicy but when you order you can request that it be made less spicy or not spicy at all. I was told that there is a variety of haejangguk where instead of pork spine it’s ox-bone that is used.

Of all the meat dishes I tried here in South Korea, ppyeo haejangguk is my favorite. It doesn’t mean though that I need to eat it often because of hang-over. I just love the taste and the spiciness of this meat dish. The price ranges from 5,000 KRW to 7,000 KRW.

Two other meat dishes I came to like here are the following: 제육덮밥- jeyuk deopbap and   족발 (jok-bal).

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제육덮밥- jeyuk deopbap
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족발 (jok-bal)

There are more meat dishes here in South Korea  but the five I presented here are the top 5 in my list. It is very possible that after my 5 years being here I may have not tried some them yet.

I wrote an article in Filipino about Korean meat dishes in order for my friends in the Philippines to know the different ways Koreans cook meat. This is the English version of the said article. The beef, pork and chicken dishes I mentioned in that write-up were limited to the ones that I already tried. I focused mainly on what I literally saw on the bowls and plates when I ate them… like what kind of meat were they, which  parts of the cow, chicken or pig were used, and what vegetables and other ingredients were mixed. I added some personal observations.

https://madligaya.com/my_korean_stuffs/the-korean-dishes-i-tried/

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TO PASS, OR NOT TO PASS

A or FThe semester – when most teachers hold their classes online because of the corona virus – is about to end. From what I have been experiencing, I have all the reasons to say that online teaching is more challenging than face-to-face instruction. Teaching during the pandemic put my creativity, resourcefulness, and patience to a litmus test.

What I consider as the most difficult challenge in online teaching is assessment.  And as the semester is about to end, it’s time to crunch numbers then decide to push either the “pass” or “fail” buttons.

What if the scores of my students are very low?

Below is an essay I have written on the subject of passing or failing the students.

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To pass, or not to pass…

That is the dilemma of teachers when the performance of some students during an entire term is below par and their total grades go south of the passing mark.

What should the teachers do – pass or fail the students?

Is passing students in a subject or course mandatory on the part of the teachers?

It’s a different story if a student fails due to absences. The student failed by default. But what if a student is regularly attending classes?

There are possible repercussions should teachers fail their students. When they fail students they had better be ready to answer possible queries from the students, from their parents, and the school administration. Usually, complaints of students, most specially when they are accompanied by their parents, would also lead to school authorities investigating the teachers concerned. It’s not only a matter of being ready to answer questions but the teachers should also prepare class records and other documents that could prove beyond reasonable doubt that the students did not perform well and deserve to get a failing mark.

There are times that teachers thought that they have exhausted all possible means to help the students perform better but to no avail… that they have tried different strokes for different folks, but none of the strokes they applied worked.

But the painful truth is that there are also teachers who would not walk an extra mile to help students improve on their academic performance.

Now, granting that the teachers have done everything they possibly could to help the students pass but their efforts proved futile, would failing the students be considered justifiable already?

Should teachers be applauded when they  take the moral high  ground and say that schools are committed to excellence and passing failing students would be tantamount to promoting mediocrity?

Failing students is not a simple decision to make. Whether or not to pass students is a path that should be carefully tread. There are a lot of things to be considered before making the final decision. There are questions that the teachers need to answer very clearly. Questions that would lead to more questions.

Do the grades teachers give truly reflect the abilities of the students? Let’s say that the answer is yes. The next question would be, “Were the tests the teachers made valid? Did the teachers make sure that their tests measured what they intended to measure?

There are more questions – Were the tests the teachers designed in congruence with the strategies they used when they presented theirs lessons? What informed the strategies that they have selected? What foundation of learning and teaching did they stand upon when they delivered their lessons? Did they consider the abilities of their students when they designed the activities in the class? Or is it a matter of whatever decision they make as teachers are contingent upon their personal comfort?

Yes, the role of the teacher is that complicated. That’s why the decision to pass or not to pass a students is actually an examination of the teachers’ conscience. It is answering the ultimate question – “Did I really do my job as a teacher?”

Ask teachers if they are really doing the things expected of them and their response would be an unequivocal yes.

Really?

So here is another question – “Why would students fail if teachers are doing their job well?”

The question above leads us to the next question – “When students fail does it mean they did not learn?”

Students failing means  they did not pass majority (if not all) of the tests (short or long, oral or written) the teachers gave during the entire term. All of those tests are meant to evaluate learning that was supposed to have taken place when the teachers discussed their lessons and did all the activities they designed for the class. So, if the students failed the tests it would mean they did not learn.

Why did the students not learn? What happened? Did the teachers bother to know why? Could there be something wrong with their strategies? Like their strategies probably did not work or something could be wrong with their  methods of testing. Yet, they did not bother to adjust and allowed the accumulation of failed tests on the part of the students.

Only the teachers who are pedagogically trained would be able to detect when something is not right with what they are doing. If they are true to their calling as teachers, they would do something about it. They will make the necessary adjustments. If they don’t care then may God bless the students.  It’s much worse when those hired to teach are not really trained as teachers. They don’t have the pedagogical skills to understand what is really happening. For them, it’s just a matter of when the students don’t get the scores required they fail. That’s it.

Let’s bring back one of the questions posed earlier – “When students fail does it mean they did not learn?”

If the answer to this is yes it means that the grades of the students reflect not only their performance but that of their teachers as well.

How true is it that “it’s not teaching if there’s no learning.” Can the teachers claim they did their job as teachers even if their students fail?”

When students fail the tests meant to evaluate learning then the activities designed and strategies selected fail to help achieve the objectives. It is the responsibility of the teachers to make sure  that their objectives are attainable and the corresponding activities and strategies  are effective. It is their responsibility to make sure that their students would succeed. It is as simple as that. A philosophical mind is not needed to grasp that… just common sense would do.

The worst thing that can happen to students is to have teachers whose view of education is myopic – teachers who judge students according to the numbers they crunch during tests and recitations.  The students are much more valuable than those numbers.

Education transcends all statistical data that teachers collect during a school term. Yes there are written rules. There are policies and regulations. But they are not absolute. Education cannot be confined to a box. It is more than black and white. It is as colorful as the rainbow. Teachers should lead their students to the proverbial end of that rainbow where a pot of gold  – a good future – awaits them.

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