South Korea, where more than 70 percent of high school graduates enter university, education is a national obsession that the government worries is actually damaging society. Education accounted for nearly 12 percent of consumer spending last year, and parents spent the equivalent of 1.5 percent of G.D.P. on cram schools for their children. There are now more cram school instructors in South Korea than regular schoolteachers, and the exams are so difficult that even college professors admit they could not pass them.
The paradox is these ridiculous tests don’t necessarily lead to demanding college classes. In Japan, where almost all college students graduate, it’s quite common for students to be asked only to parrot back lecture notes. Rigorous thinking, reading and writing too often is simply not expected.
Courtesy of Creative by Nature
When I asked a class (South Korea) if they were happy in this environment, one girl hesitantly raised her hand to tell me that she would only be happy if her mother was gone because all her mother knew was how to nag about her academic performance. The world may look to South Korea as a model for education — its students rank among the best on international education tests — but the system’s dark side casts a long shadow. Dominated by Tiger Moms, cram schools and highly authoritarian teachers, South Korean education produces ranks of overachieving students who pay a stiff price in health and happiness. The entire program amounts to child abuse. It should be reformed and restructured without delay.
Not surprisingly, South Korea’s position in the international education hierarchy is flipped when it comes to youth happiness, with only 60 percent of the country’s students confessing to being content in school, compared with an average of 80 percent, in 2012, among the world’s wealthy nations.
As parents we are at that exact point where we must ask ourselves what society we want for our children. One where they will probably fail but if not, they might get a job in which they are always miserable in? Or a life worth living?
To be a South Korean child ultimately is not about freedom, personal choice or happiness; it is about production, performance and obedience. Is this what we want for America? Is this what we want for our children?
Obedience to authority is enforced both at home and school. I remember the time I disagreed with my homeroom teacher in middle school by writing him a letter about one of his rules. The letter led to my being summoned to the teacher’s office, where I was berated for an hour and a half, not about the substance of my words but the fact that I had expressed my view at all. He had a class to teach but he did not bother to leave our meeting because he was so enraged that someone had questioned his authority. I knew then that trying to be rational or outspoken in school was pointless. This is how East Side Charter school is run today. It also was Pencader. Is this how Amercans are supposed to act?
Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union and Korea Youth Counseling Institute’s surveys have shown that 43% to 48% of students had the suicide ideation. Comparatively the US has a rate of 8% for men and 13% for women.
But to effect any meaningful change in South Korea’s education, a culture that treats its children as a commodity to be used in the service of the family or the national economy must be radically altered.
Now the point…
This is not the America we need in order to compete with other nations in our future. What we did in our past, has worked just fine, in fact, all nations send their best to our schools. Trying to be like South Korea can only benefit one segment …. Those on the receiving end of South Korea’s 1.5% GDP spent on cram schools. That is the only people who benefit from the suffering of ALL our children…
Time for decision is quickly approaching… The tests begin next week…
In your hand, and only in your hand, is the lever that stops the selling off of American’s children to the highest bidder…
If your child takes the test, then the test’s legitimacy to determine your child’s future becomes set in stone… You can’t take the the test this year, and opt out next year… For instead you WILL have to show your child improved and it WILL come at great expense to you (and your child).
But if you don’t take the test…. if you say a flat “no thank you kindly sir”,……. then the Smarter Balanced Assessment joins the rank of products like the New Coke…… the Edsel…… Hydrogen Airships…….. Ocean Liners that are completely unsinkable…….. America does not fall apart. It just moves on to safer alternatives.
But you have to not take the test…. Taking the test is the equivalent of buying a passage for your child on the Hindenberg or Titanic…. Those who did, regretted it…
There is zero penalty for not taking the test… Period... There is a terrible penalty for taking it… Please choose wisely. Time is running out….