[Viewpoint] Revolution in education

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[Viewpoint] Revolution in education

Because the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is allocating 23.6 billion won ($17.1 million) to assist colleges and universities that are introducing admission officer systems, it was perhaps inevitable that schools would accelerate plans to adopt the system. However, they could be rushing in too quickly. The Blue House has stepped in and called for more moderate action.

It is regretful that universities do not trust the report cards of high school students and want to introduce college admission officers.

In principle, it’s fair for universities and their professors to have the right to choose which students to educate. However, it seems impossible to distinguish the true potential of the applicants in such a short admissions process. The system could undermine fairness of university admissions and lead to corruption, ultimately ruining trust in public education.

Public school education has long been crippled as private education academies teach advanced curricula ahead of schedule. Parents are struggling to bear the burden of up to 20 trillion won in private education expenses.

We are living in a social atmosphere where people are reluctant to have children, fearing the enormous cost of private education. However, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is only addressing college admission reform.

Recently, Education Minister Ahn Byong-man made a surprising confession about public education in a talk to public school principals. He said that the teachers were outstanding, world-class instructors, but they were not teaching as well as the instructors at private academies.

Since students have already covered the material at the private education academies, there was little for the teachers to do.

Basically, he said the teachers in Korea were shamelessly taking salaries without doing their job. And he said public school teachers were not teaching as well as the instructors at private academies.

The original purpose of private academies was to teach arts, sports, and languages. These subject areas require a proficient training course. But classes at the schools should focus on letting students learn at their own pace.

That way, students can develop creativity, and once they apprehend the concept, students learn the study strategy and can pursue lifelong learning, unlike those who were trained to study. This creativity-oriented teaching cannot be provided by instructors who focus on training, and only teachers with advanced pedagogic skills can accomplish successful results.

However, education in Korean society has been caught in chaos, its order of priorities reversed regarding public and private education. We need a revolutionary education reform to get the order straight.

The educational system should be reorganized so that children would be able to play as much as they want when they are in elementary school and study all night long in college.

The school age could be lowered by one year, and we should consider a system of five-year elementary schools, five-year secondary schools and three-year college prep schools.

Most applicants will be able to enter the preparatory program once they meet the requirements. To be awarded a bachelor’s degree, one must pass a national test. Complicated textbooks that set back creativity should be changed, and inspiring curricula and teacher training programs should be developed.

I hope young teachers across the country take boundless responsibility to reform the educational system that is in a serious crisis.

If we let the educational chaos continue and leave the teaching of our students to private education academies, we will be faced with a bigger educational catastrophe soon.

Before blaming the education policies, the teachers should make efforts to devise instructional methods to prepare students for the future and enhance trust in public education.

That way, teachers can firmly establish authority, enhance the educational caliber of the country and revive respect for teachers in society.


The writer is a former principal of Seokjeong Girls Middle School in Yeongwol, Gangwon. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Lee Wal-gyu
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