중앙데일리

Musicals foster personal growth

Dec 19,2015
The cast and crew of “A Trampled Dream” pose for a photo at Hyunil High School in Gumi, North Gyeongsang. [GONG JEONG-SIK]
Hyunil High School in Gumi, North Gyeongsang, was granted the Korea Character Education Award earlier this month for facilitating a student-led fall musical festival as part of its personal development education program.

The honor, announced on Dec. 2 and hosted by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, and the JoongAng Ilbo, is one of the most recognized in education.

The school initially began hosting the festival in 2012, in which all first-year students are required to participate. Twenty teams, two from each of 10 classes, prepare their musicals for the year, which includes everything from the scripts to the sets.

In this year’s event, among the standouts was “A Trampled Dream,” a production the students wrote and directed independently that focuses on the Japanese military’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during the 1910-45 colonial rule.

The show, performed on Nov. 25, elicited a strong reaction from the audience and took the second place in the festival.

As freshman director Mi-seong cued her fellow actors, Yoo-hyun, the musical’s protagonist, began her opening monologue.

“Although it is said time heals everything, my wounds are still open,” she said.

Mi-seong then gave a sign to Hui-soo, the music director, who played a song to best fit the scene.

For 20 minutes, the students in the production laughed and cried along with the audience.

“The musical [brought attention to] the issue of the ‘comfort women,’ which I had nearly forgotten about,” said Kyeong-wook, a third-year student at the high school.

Jin Hye-sook, an art and physical education teacher, noted that the program gave the students a lesson in teamwork and helped them open up more to their peers.

“Producing and staging a musical is the best education method for personal development because it helps students enhance their collaboration skills as well as their consideration of others. It also provides a sense of accomplishment.”

The changes in the students were evident.

Yoo-hyun, who came to Gumi after graduating from an international middle school in Seoul, was known by her peers to be easily irritated.

She often studied during breaks and rarely socialized with other students. However, after taking the lead in the musical, she has become noticeably more extroverted.

“I realized studying isn’t everything,” she said. “Now there are so many things that make me laugh and I’m enjoying my life at school.”

Similarly, Hui-soo, the music director, had frequent conflicts with her friends over the fact that she was selected to work behind the scenes rather than as the lead.

“Everyone wants to stand out,” she said later, “but I realized that supporting the actors backstage is just as important.”

Class President Yoo-jeong also stepped up to play the Japanese solider - a role no one wanted to take.

“I took the role because somebody had to do it,” she said. “But the scene where I had to drag the comfort women was heart-breaking. I kept messing up because I couldn’t stop crying.”

When the school compared the freshmen’s interpersonal skills before and after adopting the personal development program, the results’ average jumped markedly.

The students’ communication skills showed the biggest increase, from 55 points to 63 on a 100-point scale. Comprehensive skills also increased from 64 to 68.

Better quality personal development education was also shown to have an effect on student success after graduation.

“The number of students who enter Korea’s top three universities [Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University] has doubled in the past four years since we adopted the fall music festival,” said Hyunil High School Principal Jang Chang-yong. “That’s because our students are learning about self-direction and cooperation. But they’re also enjoying more their time at school.”

Other award recipients this year included Handong Global University, which has facilitated unsupervised exams since it was founded in 1995. About half the student body also participates in some 100 different school-led volunteer activities annually.

The Korea Youth Association also received recognition. Since 1981, it has organized personal development programs aimed at elementary and middle and high school students.

BY YUN SUK-MAN [koo.yurim@joongang.co.kr]


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