Wasting school timeClasses for senior students at middle schools have become increasingly bizarre. Although students go to school, they don’t have lectures in most of their classes. During the classes, students are left to study on their own or join special lectures or activities. This is because beginning this year, applications for entrance into elite special high schools have started to include final exams in the last term in middle school. Middle schools had finals in the middle of this term and since then teachers and students have stopped having normal classes.
It is not good that students have a vacuum period for a month or so before the winter vacation begins. Students are supposed to wrap up middle school on a high note but are likely to be disappointed with schools and teachers. In some classes, teachers don’t even come to the classrooms.
The middle school course must not be regarded as a mere period of preparation for high school entrance exams. Schools must not waste even a day of the total number of days that are designated by law for students to be in school. Schools should plan a special education course before the winter vacation. There can be a range of classes, for instance, writing reviews of books, dialogue with people from outside the school or alumni, or supplementary classes to prepare for high school.
The best solution would be to adjust the timing of special high schools’ entrance exams and to hold the finals of the last term in middle schools as late as possible to shrink the period between exams and vacation. But special high schools will then have problems of their own as faculty probably work into the winter vacation on student selection.
In Seoul, there are 540 teachers at special high schools. Education for some 123,000 senior middle school students is up to the teachers.