Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chonji and the ultra competitive Korean education

This article from the Los Angeles Times, which seems to cover Korean activity extensively, talks of the highly competitive world of education in South Korea, For a few years now parents have attempted to bribe their children's teachers with cash, chonji, to give their children an advantage over others in the class. If most parents practice this bribery ironically, it brings all of the children back to the same level. The government has vowed to crack down on this practice in 2009. Frequently investigators stop teachers to look for signs that they have been bribed. This article coincided with an article I read a year or two ago, before I knew anything about Korea, that spoke of most South Korean high school students obsession with attending an American Ivy league University. The description of what some of these kids went through, either self-imposed discipline or a highly involved parent opened my eyes to the competitive nature of S. Koreans. They really have arrived on the world scene and are competing for top schools and jobs. Their work ethic is amazing and compels me to wonder if it is derived from their ancient culture or their desire to be relevant in the world community, I lean toward the former. I hope my kids work hard in high school because they are going to face stiff competition from a number of brilliant, hardworking S Koreans.,0,6388192.story

1 comment:

  1. I remember when I was in Korea, my first 7 months I was alone but then my wife+son came with me my last 6 months. When they came over we lived off-post above chongsok haguan, (an academy) and the kids were probably between 13-16 years old. I remember when we would put my son to bed around 8:00/laterish, kids would still be outside going to and coming from school, it sounded like a bunch of birds right outside your window but it never bothered me, I was just surprised to see that they were still at school that late. I know they go to school all day long even on saturdays. Nevertheless to me there are pro's and con's. There was an American lady at the branch we went to and she wanted me or another soldier who attended to teach her 2 children Spanish. We gladly accepted and she showed us her children's schedule. This lady had been living in Korea for about 4 years now and obviously slipped right into the Korean lifestyle of busy, busy, busy. It was funny cuz I though to myself when I saw her children's schedule" wow, when to these children have time to live?" and my friend when he was shown her children's schedule also told me that he thought the same thing. This lady had booked up her children's day with so much stuff I guess their youth was taken from them. Violin, guitar, korean, math, gym, so much stuff when does a chil(adolescent) have time to be and do something productive that he/she likes? Of course I am all about education but you have to let a human be human (in a productive way). I have an awesome Korean friend who lives in Korea and she is always so super-duper busy, I always tell her"nam chi, you need to relax, you need to take a break" she always tells me she doesn't have the time (HMM....) ok. I admire the Korean fast-paced lifestyle, and there are some things I like and adopted but other things I don't. Being too busy I think is bad. A good balance of working smart and hard with time to be human is also good. Well at least for me it is, :) raul