[Letters] Resisting Students’ RightsAs a 17-year-old who has been granted the chance to experience various school environments over the past nine years, I know lots of kids who will be subject to the “students’ rights act” that proposes banning corporal punishment, lifting hair and dress-code restrictions, loosening cell phone rules and permitting participation in after-school rallies. Thus I believe that what the whole controversy needs is an opinion from a person like me. Biased perhaps, but still a truthful insight from a Korean student who believes she knows more than any group that thinks it can tell us what to do.
Nine years in school has proved to me that today’s students go far beyond what statistics show us. They are people who can “kiss.” They are people who can skip classes every other day. They are people who smoke for hours at a time. I have seen the worst of students, and in them, the need for the “rod of love.” Yes, I have seen corporal punishment used a bit excessively on ordinary students, but never without reason. But more than that, I have seen the worst kids stop disrupting classmates after corporal punishment, while I have never seen any other nonphysical methods work on these kids. Corporal punishment should remain as a last resort at least.
Furthermore, in regards to abolishing restrictions on student clothing and hair, I have my doubts. Though doing so is in accordance with every human being’s right to express his or her feelings and thoughts, the truth remains that students are students. When they decide to attend schools funded by the government, they are doing so in full knowledge that their fellow classmates and teachers study with them. If passing the law means that some students could wear miniskirts and tank tops to school like girl idol groups, or color their hair hot pink, it’s not simply ruining their own lives, it’s ruining their classmates’. The problem is where to draw the imaginary line between what’s acceptable and what’s not. If the students’ rights act is going to leave it up to the student, I am pretty sure where that line will fall for my-grades-are-bad-anyway students who are going to be presented with a fresh sense of freedom to provide them an escape from their studies. But it can’t possibly be that current restrictions on clothing and hair really help students study.
The same holds true for lightening restrictions on students’ use of cell phones. Similarly, the rule that would allow students to participate in after-school rallies seems like a law to encourage students’ participation in rallies against President Lee Myung-bak’s administration.
Now everything is crystal clear. Superintendent Kwak wants to “go elite.” He knows exactly what’s going on, and he wants to test students to find the very best leader. The century’s next leader must be able to resist the temptation to wear “cool” clothes, must not lose his or her concentration because of scantily clad, red-haired classmates and must not answer “important” text messages in class. Now that I know that every single restriction is a test to sort out the elite and leave the rest of the students in the dust, I can see what an insightful man Kwak is. I am looking forward to our new “efficient” education granted only for the determined everyday kids that the students’ rights act will bring to Korea.
By Joo Na Hyun, a freshman at Daewon Foreign Language High School
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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