Consideration starts in the classroom
In other countries, education is focused on respecting others. In elementary school in the United States, students are told to stretch out their arms and draw a circle around themselves. The game teaches them not to violate another person’s private space. Many middle school students must also sign an anti-discrimination pledge against abusive language and threats. I once saw posters for an anti-bullying campaign created by students on the gym entrance, in corridors and in the locker rooms at an elementary school in Seattle. The school also selects a virtue, such as respect, every month and instructs the students that harassing others is wrong.
The competition-driven Korean education system also neglects to teach students the value of helping others. Some of the abuse victims in the military had a hard time adjusting to life in the barracks. The soldiers who abused the young conscript to death said that he was slow to respond and speak. The son of Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil was recently charged with assaulting another soldier for not carrying out his tasks well.
One Korean mother who sends her children to elementary school in Japan said that not just the teacher, but also the students who are excelling, help out those who are falling behind. And receiving help is not considered shameful. In schools in New Zealand, teachers often ask students if anyone doesn’t understand a concept and are willing to explain one more time. Students are taught to be considerate. In Korea, such education is necessary. While it may be a long way off, we must implement such a system so that we can rest assured when our children join the military later.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 22, Page 30.
*The author is a deputy national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
BY KIM SUNG-TAK