Too much time to kill

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Too much time to kill

Students in elementary, middle and high schools who are about to advance to the next level of education enter an idle period during the last few weeks of December. They typically take their final tests - or college entrance exams in the case of high school seniors - weeks before the school year ends.

Yet they are forced to come to school until the semester officially ends. These students, and their teachers, don’t have the desire or the energy to continue studying after the exams. Nor is there a good reason to, as they have already gone over all the material for class. Students, therefore, squander away the last few weeks of the school year in the classroom by watching videos, poring over comic books and killing time in other ways. Teachers become glorified baby sitters, as they’re more or less tasked with simply watching over groups of students all day. Students then hit winter break before the new school year starts in March, meaning they have more than three months of idle time.

We must help these students put this valuable time to better use. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education came up with the clever idea of hooking up students about to graduate from elementary, middle and high school with various cultural and arts programs.

Under this plan, students will be invited to attend music and foreign language classes, and performances and workshops with artists. The education office is now attempting to team up with national and local arts institutions as well as private establishments such as the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, Korea Arts and Culture Education Service and the Hope Institute. But these programs, no matter how good they are, won’t be beneficial unless schools actively encourage students to participate in them.

Schools must take a leading role in encouraging graduating students to use their time wisely as they prepare to take the next step in the world of education. To do this, they should develop educational enrichment programs for these students. This could, for instance, involve inviting alumni and popular figures from the area to speak on topics surrounding education and life planning. High schools can link up with universities to provide special classes for graduating seniors. As the saying goes, “Learn as much as you can while you are young because you will be too busy later in life.” The dwindling days at the end of the school year are just too valuable to fritter away. It’s up to the schools to help them find something more productive to do with their time.
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