[Letters] An unnecessary border

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[Letters] An unnecessary border

“Am I making a right decision? What if this choice doesn’t fit my aptitude?” This is the most common concern among Korean high school students in their 10th year of school. The year is very important for Korean students, since they have to choose between two directions which will determine the path for their life. Students who choose the science and math department (igwa in Korean) study subjects related to science and math, and the others who choose the liberal arts department (mungwa in Korean) learn liberal arts subjects. Every winter, 10th graders and teachers are busy deciding what students should choose.

Igwa students are deprived of the chance to learn liberal arts courses, and vice versa. This is a problem.

Since igwa students must take advanced math courses, students who lack in-born mathematical ability do not choose it, even though they may be interested in other science subjects such as chemistry and physics.

The same thing occurs with mungwa students. Some students choose the science and math department after they have been discouraged by a tough work load in history class, even though they are interested in other liberal arts courses, such as geology and language arts. There are also students who want to take geology and earth science at the same time, but the current system does not allow it.

The worst problem is that students have to make a decision before fully understanding their aptitude. Korean teenagers barely have a chance to find out their scholastic abilities, and a lot of them make the decision without considering it. Students rarely have the chance to take aptitude tests when they are in middle school, and not much difference is made in their high school years.

The division between the two fields continues at college, and students eventually major in subjects which do not fit their abilities or interests. A great number of college students are dissatisfied with their major. Many of them regret their wrong decision, and actually try to transfer.

Under the current system, students don’t have much control over which course arrangements they can make. This is limiting students’ potential and creativity to a very restricted level. Recent research shows that to achieve the highest scholastic outcome, the adequate arrangement of science subjects and liberal subjects is essential.

To offer broader and flexible education, the Ministry of Education should nullify the separation of the two fields. This means that students can study chemistry at the same time study history or geography, which is not possible in current system.

Being able to arrange their courses, students will be able to achieve their highest potential. More variable input will attain more variable output, and students will be able to reveal their concealed capabilities. Han Sue-bin, high school student
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