Learning about Education in Korea

I was talking to a Korean intern this week about the differences between elementary school in Korea and elementary school here in my school. It was very interesting and informative. The schools in Korea are very similar to here. They have the same basic subjects; language, reading, spelling, math, science, social studies. We are similar in teaching styles. They have lessons that are similar and discipline plans that a similar.

But there are a few things that are different. They do go to school Monday-Saturday, but Wednesday is a half day and Saturdays are every other week. We go Monday-Friday with Friday being a half day. So they do go to school for more hours than we do. Korean schools also break their school day up a little different. They have 45 minute classes and a 10 minute break for bathroom, drinks, and making sure they are ready for the next subject. They whole day is broken up this way. Korean students also have after school study at home for a few hours in elementary school, most of the evening in middle schools, and all night in high school and college. These practices are not school related, but home-driven. Parents set these times or programs up. Parents drive the learning and study after school. The schools benefit from what parents do.

One big difference is art. There is an art class that is taken as seriously as we take language and math. Art is an important part of school, but making sure that we take 3 hours in the morning for language, an hour and a half for math and an hour for science or social studies only leaves most classes with a half hour for PE, art, music, or other activities. This is a big difference in our education systems. Music is also taught. an instrument is taught in elementary school to each child.

Another difference is moral studies. There is a class for moral studies in Korea. We have a healthy lifestyles classes and it is included with the PE classes. One more class that is taught is a basic home economics class. Students learn to basics in cooking, being respectful, and basic economics. There are a few subjects we have legislated out of our schools. Our art programs suffer. More time is taken from the arts and given to the three "R's". I look at this and I can see why we have a difference in our education.

Some of these differences are societal and not educational. When we have legislators that write bills about mandatory after school programs for children and not having them participate in extracurricular activities that we love in America, then we will be able to compete in the education race with the Asian countries. As for right now, teachers are doing what they are asked to do from lawmakers.Socially we are different countries. Educationally we have different methods and ideas. We are trying to keep up with countries that voluntarily study for hours after school has ended, from elementary school to college. Unless we are willing to do this, we are going to have a hard time legislating these ideals. We can say change is needed, but until we are willing to give extra after school, we will always need change. We can and are change more. New ideas are always coming we are finding them and using them. Some good, some not. We are moving and so are the children. They expect more, they want more, they need more. We tell them not to com pre themselves to others and dinky compete with themselves, but here they are comparing us to the world. We need a global view on everything and we need to compete globally.

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