Sunday, October 9, 2011

Education News

My friend and colleague 'Hwang-tae', as he is colloquially known, mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that he was going to see a movie, Dogani 도가니 (The Crucible) which is based on true stories of sexual and physical abuse at a school for disabled children in Gyeonggi-do.  The movie is for Over-19s only.

I said it sounds quite depressing, and he agreed.  Well, it turns out something possibly good may come out of it, as JoongAng Daily is reporting that the government announced a new set of measures to permanently bar convicted sex offenders from teaching.  This refers to Korean teachers. 

I say "possibly good" for two reasons: alas, it mostly seems to apply to those abusing disabled teens, or at least "especially" disabled teens; further, it is probably yet another example of ill-considered overreaction, or legislation without teeth, as

Students will be disciplined more strictly when they sexually assault their disabled peers than when they do the same to students who are not disabled, the government said, adding that schools will be recommended to change their rules in that direction.

Huh?  Recommended to change? 

Okay, moving on: story #2 is a loosely-disguised ad for a group which wants to close down the English hakwons, this one called World Without Worries About Private Education (WWWPE).  It says "private education" right there in the name, but they seem unconcerned about math hakwons (which I gotta point out more of my students attend than English ones) or music or sports or ...

That's--as I've pointed out before, in my opinion--fine and good: this culture is rather too focused on "getting ahead" in the education game, and thereby robbing children of adequate time to just be kids.  The article touts a new "booklet" from the group that addresses "12 misconceptions about English education and gives alternative solutions".  Sadly, at least in the article, some of the misconceptions are in the alternative solutions, and some of the solutions are mis-labeled as misconceptions. 

I'm not going to belabor this, but let's just take one statement: "According to the booklet, the temporal lobe that controls language ability develops from age six."

Well, no.  In fact, just go to the post above and watch the two eps. so far in Fry's Language series to see that fallacy be destroyed.  In point of fact, most children have developed the majority of their syntactic and grammatical understandings by age three or four--take the kid whose weird father taught him Klingon alongside English: he learned the vocab, structure and syntax of Klingon quite well, but gave it up circa age three (which according to the bollocks above is before he even begins to learn it) because it wasn't very useful in communicating to his cohort.

So, if you want your child to be truly bilingual, speak Korean and English to her from the crib on up.  I must hasten to point out, I am not seriously suggesting this as a solution to the English conundrum in Korea.  No, it is clear from research that children absorb new languages like a sponge at least up to age ten or so; and even old people can learn a new language!  My point is that it "develops from age six" is utter nonsense. 


Annie said...

I was shocked to read about the WWWPE or whatever their name is and their crazy claims. I have specialized in English Acquisition and Learning and have been teaching in Asia now for 8 years or so. I teach English to Japanese children ages 6 months - 4 years and all of them have done incredibly well. Often I see results in children within 4 lessons (4 hours). Not a single mom has ever complained that her child no longer speaks Japanese as a result of coming to class, in fact, most say the kids are speaking more than ever. :) I wonder if you perhaps know of a way to contact the WWWPE (??) as I would love to give them a piece of my mind. Thanks, I enjoy your blog !

Tuttle said...

I'm sorry to say I don't know contact information for them; largely, complaints like these are based in ignorance and xenophobia, both of which are highly resistant to rational argument.