[Viewpoint] Home is the school for livingPublic education is seriously crippled. The authority of teachers is meaningless against the violence of school gangs, and young souls scarred by bullying hopelessly kill themselves.
Teachers’ sexual abuse of students and students’ violence against teachers are no longer so rare. Amid this desperate crisis, educational authorities are politically influenced and consider the classrooms as the test site for political struggles.
They seem to think the classic objective of “whole character education” is worthless. The elitist vanity, the negligence of the authorities and the materialistic sentiment are jointly responsible for the tragic chaos of education.
Public education is directly related to the quality of life of the future generation, and its breakdown would bring a far more serious and grave national disaster than political chaos. However, home education is in an even more severe crisis than established education.
As many families fail for different reasons, from the soaring divorce rate to domestic violence to financial breakdown, we cannot expect homes alone to provide a solid education and discipline.
Korea’s fertility rate is one of the lowest in the world. Under the family planning slogan, “Don’t discriminate between boys and girls, have only one child and raise it well,” many families now have only one child. And those who grow up as the only child have been deprived of the opportunity to acquire the wisdom to control themselves and mediate troubles that may happen among siblings.
Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer Johann Pestalozzi said that home is the site of moral education. Children learn proper character and attitudes not from teachers but from the parents. It is only natural that the children who grow up as little princes and princesses have a hard time forming smooth personal relationships. And many male citizens try to avoid the mandatory military service, which may be the last remaining opportunity to experience community life.
How can children who grow up stubborn and self-centered learn the morals to live harmoniously with their neighbors?
When children have a fight, it has long been a custom in Korea to scold your own child first. And you would apologize to the parents of the other children for not teaching your child properly. It is not hypocritical but wise to live without friction among your neighbors.
Nowadays, a fight between kids often develops into a fight between the parents. “How dare you meddle with my child!” This kind of selfish and overly protective attitude makes society a hostile place to live.
It is certainly necessary to boost the self-esteem of your child, but we need to teach the true virtue of being confident and forgiving at the same time, being patient without being cowardly.
It is a pity that some children grow up with a father who uses violence against his children or a mother who wishes her child to excel academically rather than being honest and fair.
Parents are irresponsible to entrust the fragile and unstable souls to the school and blame public education.
Parents who complain about the school and teachers need to think whether they have carried out their responsibility of providing home education.
General Douglas MacArthur wrote a prayer for his son. “Build me a son, O Lord, who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men.”
The parents are the first and the last teachers. The father is living history and a life-long mentor, and the mother is the birthplace of the soul and the homeroom teacher from the fetus. The mother is the first person you meet for anyone who is born to this world.
The father builds a house, and the mother makes it a home. If the father is the head of the family, the mother is the core and heart of it. When the father goes out to hunt and brings home food, the mother raises the children, grows vegetables and embraces life and nature. Poet Cho Byung-hwa wrote, “Mother is the whispering homeland, whispering hometown and the whispering religion that lead us to fullness.”
When it comes to personality and character, schools are not primarily responsible - the home is the basis for learning valuable responsibility. Home is the school for living. It lasts far longer than the established education from kindergarten to higher education. It provides the learning experience that continues from one generation to the next.
Translation by the Korea JoongAng Daily staff.
*The author is a partner at Hwang Mok Park, P.C. and former head of the Seoul Central District Court.
by Lee Woo-keun