Saturday, February 26, 2011

Education News Roundup

I have been out of the loop, but the new school year is just a few days away, so here's the latest goings-on in the Korean education world:

1)  Corporal punishment was banned in Gyeonggi-do schools last October, and the ban has since grown to include Seoul and many other school districts.  Frankly, the Korean system has relied almost entirely on the threat of physical pain to keep students in line for so long that no one seems to have thought about any alternative disciplinary modi. 

Fortunately, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has come to the rescue, releasing new discipline guidelines, according to the JoongAng Daily:
Under the guidelines, teachers are permitted to discipline students by ordering them to do push-ups, stand in the back of the classroom, or run or walk a few laps around the school playground. Teachers will be permitted to suspend students from school for up to ten days, with a maximum suspension of 30 days a year. Suspended students will receive counseling from education experts. If a student keeps misbehaving after 30 days of suspension, the ministry will allow teachers to summon parents to school for counseling. [...]

The ordinance that banned corporal punishment said teachers could summon parents of a misbehaving student, but teachers complained it wasn’t legally binding and chances were high that parents wouldn’t obey.
The ministry plans to revise a law to mandate parents to appear at schools when teachers summon them to discuss their children’s misbehavior.
The problem is that even suspension is an ineffective tool, since students are never ever held back to repeat a school year.  In Korea's Confucian confusion, group harmony is so important that disruptive students who ruin the educational exerience for their cohort must be allowed to continue doing so.  Until this changes, nothing else will.

Mind you, I am quite blessed in this area, since my classes really experience very little in the way of disruption--the biggest problem I have is quite the opposite: sleeping students, who are only disruptive if they snore loudly.  And, furthermore, my co-teachers, even if they can do little else, can at least go round making sure everyone stays awake.  Getting them enthused about the class activities--that's my job.

2)  Under the headline "They may be old, but ‘school sheriffs’ good to go," JoongAng reports on a Seoul city government response to an increase in crime near city schools:
Three months ago, the city announced plans to improve children’s safety by hiring a team of these “sheriffs.” A total of 1,094 people were selected and survived four levels of fastidious evaluations. They will be deployed to 547 schools in early March.

These “sheriffs” learned similar tactics to what police learn.
 Now, of course, they're "good to go" or "ready to roll", according to the article. Their average age is 59. 
Choi Young-hee, 67, one of the few female attendees, is a former police officer with 30 years of experience. She recalls an incident in 1980, when seven male students raped two middle school girls behind the school.

“All the assailants were arrested but the shock still remains today,” said Choi.
3)  Unfortunately, that kind of thing hasn't stopped since 1980, as a Korea Times story illustrates: four teenagers lured a middle school girl to a nearby school playground (in Busan's Nambu district) and forced her to drink alcohol. "After molesting the girl, they abandoned her in the 6.8 centimeter deep snow that had fallen in Busan that day, and fled."  Police arrested two students for rape and booked two others without physical detention, the story notes.  It doesn't say why, but presumably there's a better reason than that they weren't foreign English teachers.

4)  Read the whole story here to get all the ins and outs, but the daughter of a Korean English teacher in a Seoul high school is accused of stealing the English exams and using them in tutoring students prepping for the exams.  Complicating the story is that the school was identified in 2009 (and given lots of government money) for being a school "without private education".  But the most interesting feature of the story to me is this quote:
Urging an investigation, one teacher said, “Since we made many questions meant to develop creativity as encouraged by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, it is practically impossible to provide such tutoring without stealing questions.”

Hmmm.  See, I think it's practically impossible to provide such tutoring without developing the student's creativity.

5)  The DongA Ilbo gives us a statistics-laden report on the drop in the number of Korean students studying overseas.  The decline was quite significant, with 33.7% fewer overseas students year-on-year. 
The number of primary and secondary school students going abroad started to surge from 2000 and peaked at 29,511 in 2006. The figure, however, decreased to 27,668 in 2007 and has since declined for three consecutive years.

6)  Finally, for a bit of comic relief, we turn to the Herald, which steals a story from the Straits Times (Singapore) about a Korean secondary school whose website was allegedly hacked and replaced by a pornographic website.  Turns out, though, that Junyuan Secondary School had teminated its old URL at while building a new net presence. 

As a school webmaster, I've actually seen both ends of this, first when the McEachern HS website actually was hacked and its homepage replaced by a pr0n image; secondly, my school failed to pay its yearly bill to our provider, and someone moved in under us and bought the address.  Fortunately, this guy only put up clothes merchandising, and I was able to hunt him down (somewhere in South Africa) and buy it back.

1 comment:

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

Thanks for the update. Now begins the yearly battle of trying to effectively manage my classroom with a host of frustrated and "powerless" co-teachers.