[Letter to the editor]Thoughts on reforming education

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[Letter to the editor]Thoughts on reforming education

Lee Myung-bak has pledged to designate 150 public boarding schools in underprivileged regions and to foster 50 professional “meister ― as in German master craftsmen” ― schools and 100 private schools independent of state control. Among specialized high schools in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province are Daewon, Ewha Girls Foreign Language High School, Cheongsim International Academy, foreign language high schools at Daeil, Goyang, Gwacheon, Hanyoung and Myungduk, Korea Minjok Leadership Academy and Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies.
The teacher I replaced here at Hankuk e-mailed me earlier in the semester, saying: “I think many of the German majors are going to be left in the cold with their college applications. The French majors also got the short end of the academic stick, but they have been given much more support and the school has done a better job in making up for their screwups with them. I repeatedly told both the principal and vice-principal that native speakers should be assigned to specific classes of students and then have those same students each year for all three years so one teacher could provide continuity for each student. My impression is that neither of them could grasp why such continuity might be desirable. I think they were thinking of giving the students as much variety [noncontinuity] as possible.”
In this regard, reducing out-of-field teaching would be an important step. An article in a Seoul paper reported recently: “As for English education, which accounts for more than half of the nation’s private education costs, Lee also pledges to train at least 3,000 new English teachers who will give lessons only in English.”
Yes; but would they ― the newly trained teachers ― be math teachers, physics teachers; or English language and literature teachers?
If the litmus test of the last two liberal administrations was the issue of high school tuition, the litmus test of the incoming conservative government will be abolition of the draft.
Richard Thompson, Yongin, Gyeonggi
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