DUBAI // A 10-year-old student has shaved off his teacher’s hair after completing a dare to overcome his shyness.
Taewoong Jeong, from Korea, could barely speak in front of his classmates at Gems World Academy. His Grade 5 teacher, William Clark, said his bashful nature was holding him back.
“I thought it was perhaps a lack of English language skills,” said Clark. “But then I found out that wasn’t the case because he is a good writer.
“It later dawned on me that the child had a fear of public speaking.”
His classmates came up with a solution. “It began as a joke,” said Mr Clark. “They said, ‘If Taewoong sings in assembly, you should get your head shaved, Mr C’.”
Mr Clark agreed, and the dare was set. If Taewoong worked up the courage to stand up in front of a school assembly and sing the national anthem, he would be allowed to shave off his teacher’s hair.
The Taewoong Project, as it came to be known, included posters plastered around the school, urging Taewoong to go through with the dare.
Mr Clark recalls: “Every Thursday I would ask him, ‘Is today the day Taewoong?’. We could see that every week he would muster up a little more courage for it.
“His classmates would constantly motivate him too.”
“What he did last week, though, has made him my hero.”
It took three months, but last week Taewoong overcame his fears and got up in front of the school.
“I just did it,” said Taewoong. “I definitely feel more confident and think I can do it again.”
True to his word, Mr Clark brought out the shaver for Taewoong. “I told him, this is a life long deal. If you cannot do it during your time at school, send me a video of your achievement from wherever you are and even if I am in Antarctica, I will send across a video with my head shaved off.”
For Taewoong this was the fun part: “I felt really happy and weird at the same time.”
Mr Clark believes this experience will help Taewoong get through other difficult situations.
“Noting will be that hard for him anymore,” he said. “Whenever he is faced with an audience and fear grips him, he will have to memory to help him through.”
Taewoong’s father, Simon Jeong, said he appreciates the effort put in by his class teacher: “It was a unique style adopted by Mr Clark where my son was pushed to taking a risk. I think it will make Taewoong a go-getter.”