Friday, November 19, 2010

Education News

Three stories of interest have appeared of late in the Korean papers.

First, "ADHD cases skyrocket in Korean adolescents", says the headline in JoongAng Daily:
According to National Health Insurance Corporation’s statistics, the number of adolescents diagnosed with ADHD jumped 2.4 times over the past six years from 18,967 in 2003 to 64,066 in 2009.
The corporation said 6.5 percent of young people from the ages 6 to 18 have ADHD. About 70 percent of patients suffer from the disorder until they reach adulthood, while 30 percent are successfully treated. Male children are four more times likely to be affected than females.
Children with ADHD have difficulty focusing on tasks, controlling their behavior and are hyperactive in ways that are more severe than in average kids.

Looking around, it was easy to find stories reporting a similar rise in the US, like this one, citing the CDC's MMWR, and pointing out that it's probably less a matter of increased rates of disorder, but rather improved "detection".

Whether this means parents and teachers are better informed about the condition, or are just sick and tired of Johnny/Jinsu's antics, is left for the reader to decide.

Second, the Korea Herald has an interview with ATEK (Association of Teachers of English in Korea) spokesman Rob Ouwehand, which they headed English teachers look to change their image.
The nut graf is buried in the middle:
“When English teachers go out into the community and volunteer, collect clothes for poor kids and volunteer English lessons at the orphanage nearby, than instead of being that kind of faceless, scary, English teacher, it humanizes us and by contributing to Korean society and saying we’re not here just to drink and party and take our money and go home. We’re part of Korean society, and we want to be responsible members and contributors to Korean society,” [said Ouwehand].

Which is all well and good, I suppose, but isn't being a teacher already contributing to Korean society? Doesn't the twenty or more hours a week I spend in the classroom with my students in a teacher/caregiver role "humanize" me and give me a face? ...

Third, a change in weighting of elements considered in early admissions to top-tier Yonsei University has foreign language high scgools calling "Foul!" DongA Ilbo covers this in a story headed "Foreign Language High Schools Undergoing Crisis":
A staff member at Yongin Foreign Language High School in Gyeonggi Province said with a sigh of regret, “We advised students with good academic performances and English-language proficiency to apply (to Yonsei University), but most failed, which is hard to believe. Only some of them with academic records good enough for admission were admitted.”
“Only five percent of students who applied for early admission at Yonsei University were admitted,” he said. “This constitutes bashing of foreign language high schools and reverse discrimination.”
A source at Daewon Foreign Language High School in Seoul also said, “The number of students admitted through two early admission programs has declined to a third from last year. We didn’t expect the situation to be as bad as it is now.”
“Since Yonsei will seek to recruit highly talented students, we are pinning our hopes that the university will devise other measures (to recruit our students).”

Sounds like sour grapes to me. The changes were announced, and they amount to increasing the value of overall academic performance in candidates and decreasing the weight of English language proficiency. Instead of considering the exact score on the TOEFL or what-have-you, the grades have been broken into A, B and C.
A source at Myungduk Foreign Language High School in Seoul said, “This means that students who received 780 points and 900 points received the same grade in the college admissions review,” adding, “This is a major blow to foreign language high school students, who are superior in English proficiency but are at a disadvantage in high school academic records.”

Previously, of course, Yonsei had been under attack for favoring students from foreign language high schools, accepting such students despite lower overall academic levels.

Which just goes to show, you can't please everyone.


Rod said...

It's not a matter of increased detection. Its merely an expansion of the definition of ADHD. It is similar Autism Spectrum Disorder: It isn't that there is a greater percentage of autistic kids now, but a lack of discipline at home to keep kids in line. Everyone just wants a pill to solve everything now, rather than admit they are lazy, undisciplined parents.

Tuttle said...

Well, there's truth to that for sure, but you didn't hear it from me!

Tanner Brown said...

Wait, what was I going to say?