Lucky kids enjoy vacations with absolutely no homework

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Lucky kids enjoy vacations with absolutely no homework

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Students at Taebong Elementary School play with pasta at an English camp on Monday with their principal, Moon Doo-seok, third from right. [OH JONG-CHAN]

As winter vacation started last week, students at Taebong Elementary School came out of the gate with particularly happy faces. They won’t have to return to the classroom until Feb. 1 - and they don’t even have any vacation assignments.

Writing journals and book reports, drawing artwork and doing outdoor activities are the usual kind of assignments given to students over the winter break.

But Moon Doo-seok, the 62-year-old principal of the school in Gwangju, believes students should fully enjoy their vacations - without homework.

“During the summer vacation, I went camping on Mount Jiri with my family,” Kim Ha-jin, a second grader, said. “For the winter vacation, I look forward to traveling.”

Moon encourages students to actively participate in activities that interest them, and the school offers a number of programs such as career camps, reading camps, fitness training camps and English camps with native-speaking instructors. These programs are not supposed to be work or time-killers; they’re supposed to let students build their dreams. Some of the programs are conducted by parents.

The no-homework experiment began in 2012 when Moon was principal of Seoil Elementary School in Gwangju. It continued after he moved to Taebong Elementary School in March 2014.

His philosophy was not welcomed at first. Parents worried that their kids might fall behind other students if they did nothing during vacations.

But when they saw how enthusiastic the children were about the programs they participated in, the parents came around to the idea.

“Homework over holidays gives too much stress to both students and their parents,” Moon said. “I decided to get rid of all assignments during vacations. Vacations need to give students memories with their families.”

Moon wants to give his students more freedom.

“What’s more important than homework is to search and grow their dreams during their childhood,” Moon emphasized. “I hope that other schools might also guarantee the right to play during vacations for students. They can find their new selves and design their lives.”

BY KIM HO [kim.hyangmin@joongang.co.kr]

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