[Letter to the editor]Pressure cooker schooling
I was 3 when I arrived in the United States to live in Arizona and later in beautiful San Diego. While living in America, I went through life as a smart student and a well-loved child; some might call me spoiled. I was a shy kid in my early years in elementary school but as I grew older, I became more outgoing and enthusiastic. All in all, I was, in my eyes, an average kid with no worries. But in fifth grade something started to bother me.
I realized that kids in Korea were getting a lot more of an education than what I was getting in San Diego. Although I did get extra tutoring at home, they were getting a lot more. This notion frightened me. The idea that kids only a bit older than me were in a life-and-death situation because of a single-point on a test terrified me. I didn’t want to be dumber than other kids and it seemed that I had fallen behind. But no matter how hard I tried, I craved relaxation. I couldn’t stand looking at sentences, math problems or any of that for more than three hours. I needed a break! The fact that I couldn’t concentrate really scared me. It seemed to tell me I wasn’t as smart as I thought. It depressed me but I couldn’t do better. I was trying my very best but compared to kids in Korea, I seemed a total failure.
After a few months, my eyes were opened: The kids in Korea aren’t normal. I’m the one that’s normal; it’s all right that I’m less educated than kids in Korea. Kids in Korea didn’t have time for family, friends or even sleep. They wake at six in the morning and go to sleep at 1:00 a.m.
Imagine kids who are 15-19 years old, struggling with peers in order to get one point higher on a test. Imagine the feeling of pressure before an exam. As much as exams matter, it’s not the end of the world if you get one problem wrong. Kids in Korea, in my opinion, don’t know that. They’ve lived all their lives with pressure and that one point on the exam matters. Why they are doing this, I have no idea and I’m pretty sure half of the kids in Korea don’t know either. Driving teenagers like this is wrong. Teenagers should have time for fun and be given the right to be teenagers.
Sally Oh, a sixth grader in Los Angeles