It only occurred to me to ask the school secretary yesterday about the ritual of the children when they arrive at school each day.
Korea is so cool at times. From the number-coded lock on my apartment door, to simply offering customers a spritz of Febreeze when leaving a smoky grill-your-own-meat restaurant, they have a lot of little twists and ideas that appeal to me.
I was idling away a few free minutes after kindergarten and before elementary classes, chatting to the secretary at her desk as the elementary students started to arrive in their buses from various schools. They poured in as usual, shouting hello and pulling off their shoes, sterilizing their hands on the machine, and doing something at a little electronic thingimajig.
Here, what are they actually doing with that thing? I suddenly thought to ask for the first time, actually paying attention for once as a little girl came in and pressed her thumb on to the scanner. It flashed red and beeped, and she ran off to her classroom. Some kind of fancy roll-call? I wondered aloud.
Allie nodded. Sort of. It scans their thumb print and sends their mother a text message to let her know they got here safely.
OK, seriously, how cool is that?!!
The world has come a long way since I was the age of my students (over 20 years ago, erk), when the roll call consisted of a list of names in a folder, which would be checked off each day and collected by a senior pupil, who’d deliver them to the office. Unless a child skipped school regularly, the parents would probably never find out that he hadn’t shown up on a particular day. This way, they just wait for the text message – if it doesn’t arrive, they know there’s a problem. I love it. Peace of mind re: safety and anti-truancy. And so simple!