It’s not as bad as we think
Korea has once again achieved the unfortunate feat of ranking the lowest in a category among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. This time, an institution found that the nation’s teachers have the least morale in the OECD.
Yang Jung-ho, a professor at Sungkyunkwan University, surveyed 105,000 middle school teachers in 34 member OECD countries, finding that 20.1 percent who chose the profession in Korea said they regret their decision.
This is the highest rate and more than twice the OECD average of 9.5 percent. Around 37 percent responded that they would not become a teacher if they could choose their career again, which is also considerably higher than the OECD average of 22.4 percent.
But am I the only one who thinks that 20 percent is not too bad? There could be some deviation, but for any career and job, it is likely that one in five people are not satisfied with their choice.
While being a teacher is a coveted job in Korea and is paid relatively well compared to other countries, it is understandable that teaching students in this fiercely competitive society is full of challenges. Korean teachers may often feel they are not good enough. After I became a grown-up, I realized that the teachers I met in elementary, middle and high school were just human beings.
Of course, there were exceptionally inappropriate teachers. In high school, one of teachers brought a hammer to the class. It was a small one, and he didn’t hit anyone, but it was frightening enough, and his actions deserve to be brought up in front of the National Human Rights Commission. While some immature teachers hurt the feelings of students, there are also ones who guide children on the right path. I was not selected in a school essay contest, but my literature teacher told me, “You don’t get an award, but I like your writing.”
The job of a teacher requires a special work ethic, self-control and patience, as one has to deal with young minds. With the exception of the few unfit teachers who irreversibly traumatize children, teachers are, in fact, also workers and members of society with their own individuality and characters.
Who is completely satisfied with their job? Just because 20 percent of teachers are not happy with what they do doesn’t mean we need to worry that the future of our children is gloomy. The teachers are samples of a variety of people children will encounter as they grow up. It will be good enough if more and more teachers just warmly embrace the children.
*The author is a culture and sports news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo. JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 11, Page 35
by LEE YOUNG-HEE