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Korean Education is the Best?

August 18, 2015

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This week’s Speaker’s Corner comes with a whole bunch of links from Pearson, Edudemic, Huffington Post, and the NCEE talking about the Korean Education system and why it is the best. I think a lot of people will argue about the definition of what “best” actually means. In fact, we had one person rather incensed at the question asked this week and demanding proof backing up our claims. Ha!

Now, we’re not saying that Korean Education is the best in the world, because we haven’t really experienced what other countries have to offer. What we can say about the Korean Education system, though, is that the concept of getting high grades seems to be more valued than actually learning something. This was one of the reasons why Simon quit teaching in his middle school after they administration asked him to press play on an English tape recording so that the kids could memorize the correct answers for the upcoming test. They would prefer their students to memorize and not learn rather than have a certified English teacher engage the kids in real live conversation which actively engages the brain! So he stepped away from that and started focusing on this YouTube thing instead :D

So what is education like where you are from? Do you agree that Korean education is the best or do you have experience with Korean that says otherwise? Let us know!

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Korean Education is the Best?

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  1. Before I came to Korea I might have agreed, but after teaching here I have to say I disagree! Sure, the pace is really rigorous and the students do study a lot, but like some of the people in the video said, the focus is more about memorizing and doing well on tests than it is on learning how to apply that knowledge and create things. The funny thing is that a lot of my co-teachers will talk about how Korean students aren’t creative, but I’ve seen first hand that it’s not true! It’s like a muscle you have to exercise. You just need to give them the chance to work it out.

    Another thing I disagree with is the no failure thing. I have students in my class who can’t speak a drop of English and have no desire to learn at this point… but they can’t fail English. They just pass the students through to the next grade. That’s something that doesn’t happen back home.

    I think when it comes to special education and bridging learning gaps, the US is definitely ahead of Korea. When it comes to student motivation and parent support, Korea is the clear winner. If we could somehow combine those two…

    3 years ago
  2. any country that offers degrees in martial arts can’t be to bad. the us educational system is ranked 27th so if S. korea is anywhere higher i would say they have a better system.

    3 years ago
  3. First and foremost, what is the definition of education? What forms the basis of this ranking? What are the indicators? Curriculum framework or student outcome? Oh by the way, A literate person does not necessarily translate into an educated person.

    3 years ago
    • The HuffPo article summarises the criteria.

      “The research draws on literacy data as well as figures in government spending on education, school entrance age, teacher salaries and degree of school choice. Researchers also measured socioeconomic outcomes like national unemployment rates, GDP, life expectancy and prison population.

      The report also notes the importance of high-quality teachers and improving strong educator recruitment.”

      So that’s a very broad criteria for education evaluation. It’s very much an evaluation of the whole system rather than just who’s producing the smartest kids. That seems justifiable to me.

      Some of the outcomes (prison population, age expectancy, unemployment) are influenced by other factors other than education. For instance the USA has fallen in that index, but with the criteria mentioned above, they would be influenced by factors such as the country’s economic downturn and race relations.

      This American Life recently did a couple of really interesting shows on education.

      http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/562/the-problem-we-all-live-with

      3 years ago
  4. I feel like in what you’ve guys have talked about and the teachings is that Korea might be thinking in the right direction but they only need to apply more of actually understanding concepts rather than just memorizing. But even just the memorizing I feel like it’s right that Korea get ranked number 1 or maybe just in the highest education because you guys have talked about how the students so to school in the morning and then go to extra classes after school and extra activities only to get home around midnight, so even if they have the wrong idea about just memorizing, the students are trying really hard. My family is from Russia and my parents have said that the education pushes students farther there than it does in America but not as much as i hear it does in Japan or Korea. I have lots of different views because I’ve gone to a public school, private school, independent school, and a tour/ day in the life of Russian schools and I have to say that i really don’t like the public school life in America, it’s very disorganized and not much work or studying get done, while i remember you guys saying that in Korea the students, when they have free time/ quiet time, they truly do just study and behave diligently. So I believe that the system of just memorizing is wrong but I think about how much effort Korean students put in and i think they really deserve it.

    3 years ago