Saturday, December 11, 2010

Education News Roundup

First, and unsurprisingly, a analysis of data acquired by Dong-A Ilbo found that teachers are "more generous than students or parents in assessing their colleagues." The paper studied the results of the first-ever national evaluation of tachers conducted by the Education, Science and Technology Ministry:
The data suggested that the average score given by teachers to their colleagues was higher than those from students and parents in all categories.
A discrepancy of up to 1.85 times characterized the evaluation scores of teachers and students and up to 2.54 times between those awarded by teachers and parents. [...]
Jeon Je-sang, an education professor at Gyeongju University who conducted a joint study with the regional education research center at Chungbuk National University, said, “Efforts are urgently needed to correct the practice of teachers granting high scores to their colleagues due to sympathy.”

The aticle did not provide information on the basis by which Jeon was able to determine that higher scores were due to "sympathy" or why efforts to correct the practice are needed urgently, since the ministry has not determined any policy procedures that would be impacted by the study.

Second, another story on the so-called "English-teaching" so-called "robots" being pushed by KIST (Korea Institute of Science and Technology) as the solution to the native-teacher so-called "problem", this one from Korea Times, never the brightest pap in the rack:
"We learned that Engkey [the "robot's" nickname] should be able to fare well in markets based on the first phase of experiments. We are poised to conduct more pilot runs before commercially launching the robots in 2013, [said KIST spokesman Park Young-ho.]"
Engkey has arrested the attention of students in the English-language classes in Masan elementary schools this year thanks to her cute penguin-like shape, tender female-voice pronunciation and ability to interact.
However, the robot was found to freeze if a student goes off the scripted dialogue.

In other words, Engkey is a CD-ROM on wheels, in a plastic shell that looks like what children think a robot should look like. Utter shite, as my Brit friends would say.

Finally, and quite disturbingly, JoongAng Daily's story carries the header: Seoul high schools to eliminate P.E. classes "for third-year high school students next year to give students more time to study for the university entrance exam."

Wow! Talk about getting the wrong end of the stick! If anything, what these kids need is less time with their noses in the books, and more time in the fresh (well, you know what I mean) air, exercising their long, skinny bodies. PE teachers' jobs, of course, don't face elimination (which is purpose of those robots in the story above for English teachers), as the number of PE hours will remain the same. The reporters explain:
Schools are currently required to give students 272 hours of physical education during their three years of high school, with 102 hours each for first- and second- year students and 68 hours for third-year students.
Starting next year, schools will be free to divide the number of class hours in any way they like, following the passage of a new regulation that also stipulates that schools offer classes in just eight subject areas.
According to statistics from the Seoul Office of Education, half of the 178 high schools in Seoul that offered physical education classes this year say they will reduce or eliminate the number of physical education hours for third-year students and allocate all of the physical education class hours to the first and second year of high school.

I asked around at my school about this, and they have no plans to make such a change. In fact, they're still hoping to find money for the new gymnasium project despite the big budget cuts for facilities in next year's appropriations.


조안나 said...

haha, I remeber being pretty psyched in my senior year of high school when our gym was under construction and we couln't have PE for the whole year. But, of course, I probably took an art class instead, not an extra math class ^^

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

This is funny. That robot thing is so odd. The teacher evaluation thing is even more entertaining. Of course they rate each other higher - they are absolutely terrified of possible repercussions of being honest about this.

A couple of my friends have remarked at how their universally loathed principals received "excellent peer reviews" (or reviews from their staff - principals of course have no peers) and were in great moods as they now confidently went along doing their jobs in the same sub-par manner.

Time to re-think the process.