Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two News Updates

1) The pachyderm at Seoul Children's Grand Park zoo that was accused of knocking out a woman by throwing a stone and hitting her in the head, has been cleared of the charges. According to the story at Korea Herald, police were unable to find any witnesses to the incident, and the elephant failed to confess. The woman and the zoo came to an agreement.

The elephant Tae-San, whose name means something like form of a mountain, or a huge pile, seems to have come through the trauma largely unscathed, and is in fact something of a minor celebrity:
The news even contributed to attracting new visitors to the zoo, as people wanted to see the famous elephant, said a zoo official.
"Visitors would recognize Tae-san from television and approach the cage to have a closer look or take photographs, none of them seeming to be afraid of him," said the zoo-keeper in charge of the elephant. "We, at the zoo, are all so proud of him for holding his own after the distresses caused by the investigation."

2) My class load was light yesterday and today because of the National Student Assessment Test given to all students in elementary sixth, middle school third, and high school first grades (that's 6, 9 and 10 to you and me).

Now, we just finished our midterm exams, and I know some schools are giving their midterms next week, so I assume there are some schools out there that are interrupting their exams to give an exam.

The test has a new wrinkle in it this year, as the whole school results will be made publicly available, in order to assist rising classmen (well, their parents), in selecting a school. It is a controversial move.

The conservative Dong-A Ilbo reports on a boycott organized by teachers' and parents' groups:
The National Teachers and Educational Workers Union and several parents’ groups yesterday said they will boycott the national student assessment test, calling them a “simultaneous national test.”
The liberal union held what it called a “rally against the simultaneous national test” in central Seoul, urging the withdrawal of the test. [...]
The union said in a news release under the name of a “national coalition of civic groups against the simultaneous national test,” “We urge the government to withdraw the simultaneous national test and reconsider from scratch the release of test scores by the school,” adding, “We urge the return of fired teachers.”
The ministry, however, reconfirmed its decision to penalize schools and teachers who boycott the test and induce students to perform outdoor activities instead of taking the test.

I don't really have a problem with making the aggregate results of a school or district available. This kind of data has been available in the US for as long as I can remember, at least for those who understand how to read their child's standardized test report.

I've said before, and I'm sure I will again, that this country surely has the most testing-reliant pedagogical paradigm on the planet. And in English, at least, the most ineffectual. In eight weeks of the semester so far, we have ten days of tests and exams. And on Friday, each class will have a half-day of physical fitness testing.


조안나 said...

when do they have time to get physically fit for that test while they study all day and night?? I'm liking the sound of teaching high school... I hope I get placed there... hahaah

Tuttle said...

Well, they do get a Phys. Ed. period, I think it's three times a week. Also, about a hundred of them play soccer at each end of the playground, and a hundred more on the basketball "courts" throughout the entire lunch period.