[Letters] The ‘absurd’ comparison of public and private schools

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[Letters] The ‘absurd’ comparison of public and private schools

The other day, I watched a TV program that dealt with the topic of the “absurd” comparison of private versus public educational institutes.

It highlighted the superiority of private institutes over public education when it comes to the capabilities of teaching staff and to the swiftness needed to catch up with the ever-changing university admission policies.

Some instructors, who are highly popular among students, were quoted as saying that teachers working in public schools cannot match them for the following reasons.

First, instructors can afford to work with a team of well-qualified auxiliary staff that helps to develop teaching materials, answer questions from the students on real-time basis, and to conduct detailed analyses of the Scholastic Aptitude Test for college entrance for fine-tuning their lectures to the immediate needs of the test takers.

Public school teachers, on the other hand, cannot afford to do that as optimally as instructors can.

Second, instructors have no choice but to keep making efforts to upgrade their teaching skills and materials so as to ensure their survival in the competitive market of private education.

However, public school teachers are not driven by the same intensity of motivation as theirs, for public school teachers’ employment is fully guaranteed until the age of 62.

Upon hearing these, as a newly appointed English teacher at a public school, I felt strong antipathy toward the above mentioned logical grounds that constitute the core of their criticisms against the public school.

Before I set out to attack their bone of contention, I see the need to digress a bit in order to make it clear why I employed the adjective “absurd” to modify the comparison of private vs. public education.

There is a misconception that the one and only goal of a school is to impart knowledge.

To my disappointment, the biased program also seemed to focus their attention upon this restricted view of education with the total disregard for other multiple educational functions performed by public schools, which served to create the distorted images of current public education.

Other than teaching to the test, public school teachers are under obligation to take up additional responsibilities to raise a whole person rather than a student who is knowledgeable only.

The fundamental difference between private and public education resides in the philosophical foundation of each.

Therefore, the program’s superficial coverage can be said to be logically “absurd” in that it aimed to compare, not to contrast, the fundamentally different two entities.

Furthermore, the two reasons underlying their criticisms do not sound persuasive.

If public school teachers are in a position to concentrate solely on lesson preparation with well-funded assistance, they would be able to dramatically enhance the quality of their instruction.

However, it is pragmatically not feasible for them to channel all their resources into instruction, considering the great demands derived from administration and guidance.

Last, as far as I know, public school teachers are as much motivated as instructors think they are, of course in a qualitatively different sense.

Our motivation springs not from economic drive but from something transcending materialistic tangible rewards.

Kim Joon-koo, English Teacher at Dongdaemun Middle School
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