Monday, March 31, 2014

Abby: Observations and experiences....there is so much to learn!

As I reflect on the past few weeks of our class sessions in preparation for our journey to South Korea, I have learned so much, and yet, in the grand scheme of things, have learned so very little that there is to know. I look forward to most of my learning taking place as we journey through our various stops in the great Republic of Korea.
As I go forward with this blog post, I would like to just highlight one area of interest that I find fascinating which will tie into the realm of information I plan to gather through my DIY project...EDUCATION. Though we have not spoken intensely about education in South Korea in our class sessions, I have learned quite a bit about education in South Korea through readings of our assigned texts and reading on my own. Below I will share with you some of what I have found and some questions that I have pondered through this unique educational process, as well as depict what my plan is for my DIY project. 

As we have all learned through our readings, education seems very different in the United States as compared to that in South Korea. The suicide rate in South Korea is substantially high in young generations due to pressure they feel to perform at school and make a successful entrance into college. While educational systems vary throughout the world, below are some basic facts that show how the educational system in the United States compares with that of South Korea.

Parameters/Big Ideas
United States
South Korea
School Year Length
About 9 months
School months vary depending on state.
11 months
March – February
2 Semesters:
      March to July
      September to February
School Year – Days
180 days
Monday - Friday
220 days
Monday- Friday
Some Saturday classes
Hours per school day
6.7 hrs.

8 hrs. (not including study sessions or private tutoring)
Standardized Tests
Entrance Exams
YES – for college
YES – for high school and college
Areas of Study
English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education and other Fine and Practical Arts as electives

-Students rotate from class to class.
Korean Language, Math, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, Moral Education, Music, Fine and Practical Arts, English

-Students stay in same class. Teachers rotate from room to room.
Additional Hours of Study with Tutor
-About 22% of students take part in free tutoring annually
-About 75% of students take part in after school tutoring.
-From 5pm to 10pm, most students study non stop
Pupil to Teacher Ratio (Primary School)
Graduation Rate
Opportunities to Students
-More room for independence
-Part time jobs.
-Extra activities like sports, band, drama, volunteering
-Rules strictly enforced by teachers
-High parental involvement in education
-Learn manners in school

I know through my reading, I have generated a substantial amount of questions about education in both our I live it day in and day out, as compared to that of what it is like in South Korea. I am anxious to get into the classroom in South Korea to see what a typical school day is like. Through readings, it sounds exhausting, but looking at statistics, it looks powerful.

For my DIY project, I plan to gather some data through surveys of my own students on how they view and value education. I will gather some statistics on how they utilize their time outside of school, whether it be participating in sports or other leisure activities, working at part time jobs, studying for school, spending time with friends, etc. I hope to do a similar survey with South Korean students for comparison. I think it will be interesting and fascinating to see the results. 

So my question is....what does a truly impactful, positive, efficient and effective world-class modern education system look like? Within our schools and within our homes, how have we taken advantage of the growing power we have, what inputs have we used, to generate stable, strong, progressive thinking leaders, which were once just seedlings, to ensure a reliable and positive future to carry on for future generations to come? Do we really start with the end in mind....and if so, do we start with the end in mind soon enough?

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