There are days like today when it feels good to be a teacher. I have a student, Jun Min, who tries so hard but always seems to come up short test time.
I asked him to come to my office after school. We spent a good 30 minutes studying for the upcoming test. I made him an extra study guide to do over the long weekend. At the top I put
Fighting! You can do it! I believe in you!
It took him a minute to figure out what it said. I asked if he knew what it meant. He said,
Thank you teacher. I think I can do it.
Insert warm fuzzy feelings here.
I came across this youtube video of a teen who had been bullied. I cried through the whole video.
The US Dept of Education wants to increase achievement across the nation, close the achievement gap between races, and other goals–which requires many highly qualified teachers with access to many resources (hard to reach with funding being cut everywhere). The US wants to catch up in the rankings for Science and Math.
PISA (www.pisa.oecd.org) is an international study that evaluates the education systems of different countries. On the last assessment the USA ranked 17. Korea ranked 2. So Korea education system is doing something correct, right? But at what cost to the students?
Korean students go to school for roughly 220 days a year. Elementary and Middle school is compulsory, but the number of students attending high school (and later a form of higher education) has steadily increased. Many students attend hagwons (or private academies) after the end of every school day. Education is the foundation of a successful life in Korea. SKY is the limit-Sky being Seoul Univ, Korea Univ, and Yonsei Univ. Getting into one of these universities is the same as getting a guaranteed pass to a good life. Parents and teachers are on the same page to push for higher and higher expectations, but at what cost?
Alex is another EPIK teacher here in Seoul. He currently teaches in a high school (primaryily students from more affluent families). He recently did speaking exams for his 450 students. The answers he got were shocking.
Students were able to answer to any of the following questions.
1) Are the government right to force academies to close at 10pm?
2) Why is suicide the number one cause of death for Korean teenagers and what can be done to reduce the number of suicides?
3) Should South Korea abolish the death penalty?
4) Should South Korea increase its reliance on nuclear energy?
Please go to his blog and read his post. Expectations too high?
When do expectations become too high?