‘We emphasize the education of proprieties’: principalQ. What does CheongShim do in order to develop “altruistic characters?”
A.We emphasize the education of proprieties. Not many students are considerate and many of the smart kids are selfish. Even if one is very smart and intelligent, he should be able to live with others in harmony. We are now studying a program that a renowned propriety institution uses to teach students.
Do all the students have to learn at least one sport and musical instrument?
Every student at CheongShim must learn taekwondo. In addition, they can choose one elective, either soccer, Latin and modern dance, rowing, badminton, golf or basketball. We also make students learn at least one musical instrument. We’re not asking them to be professional artists or athletes, but we want to let them enjoy cultural aspects as global leaders.
What does the class called “international understanding” teach?
It teaches religion, including the tenets of the Unification Church [which the school is based on.] If you understand the religion of a nation, you can understand its culture better. Currently, Maarten Meijer, who wrote the biography of Guus Hiddink, teaches the course.
What do you think about the criticism that private schools like CheongShim force elementary students to be too competitive and parents to look down on public schooling?
I don’t think CheongShim should be blamed for that. We haven’t yet decided how to select students for next year, but there are already rumors that we have, as if it were already decided. It’s usually cram schools that mislead parents. I hope parents don’t listen to the rumors and push their kids in the wrong direction. I heard one rumor that we’re selecting only students who have lived abroad. That’s not true. We have students who have only studied in Korea.
We actually want to pick students with well-rounded characters, rather than really smart but selfish ones. Some foreign schools select students by holding a camp to check the applicants’ social ability and interviewing the parents and students in order to select good-natured ones. But it’s not easy to do that in Korea. So, we’re still thinking about it.
Some have criticized CheongShim as a “noble school,” where only the rich can send their children to the school.
That’s not true. We offer scholarships of up to 20 percent for students from poor families. (The school costs 150 million won, or $159,000 per school year.)
by Park Sung-ha