Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Schools

No wonder these kids are brainiacs! The amount of schooling they go through is really something else. I have never seen anything like it. All children go through public schools and most families send their children to “Hagwons” which are private schools for extra training. I work in a Hagwon, the class sizes are much smaller than the public schools. Public schools have about 30-35 children per class and the Hagwon’s have about 7-12 kids per class. These Hagwon’s teach the important subjects according to Koreans; Math (being the most important), Science and English. One would think that because it is a private school that they might just attend these classes one or two days a week. But no…they go everyday even Saturday and Sunday. This is a typical schedule for a Korean child.

Elementary students-M-F public school 8:30-4p then the Hagwon from 5p-7p and Saturdays from 9-1.

Middle School students- M-F public school 8:30-4 then the Hagwon 5-10p, Sundays 9-3 and some Saturdays when studying for exams.

High School students- M-F public school 8:30-4 then the Hagwon from 5-11p, Saturday and Sunday’s from 9-1 or 3, I think.

You would think these kids are pushed to the limit, however, the elementary and middle schoolers attend, piano and tae kwon do on top of their schedule! NOW, these kids are pushed to the limits and you can feel it and see it on their faces. They are worn out and stressed. Especially the high schoolers. Anytime, I do an assigment that allows them to be creative and dream a little each one of them says the same thing---they just want a day off.

They do get “winter break” and “summer break” but not really. They get the public school off and still attend the Hagwon—but the Hagwon is full-time during the break. So, really they get no break. Poor kids. When do they play? In between classes and during “dinner” break.

I have read in the “Korean Times” that the education system has been debated for some time now. Some Korean’s think they are pushing there students too much. Will it change? I don’t know, I hear their Preisdent enforces education of this nature. Korean’s feel that because they are such a small country that the only way to be truly powerful is to be exremely intelligent. Intelligent they are.

Sending a child to a Hagwon cost about $200 a month for one kid. And if a family doesn’t send there child, it is highly frowned upon. You see the poor scraping every dollar they can find to send their child to extra schooling.

With all of that being said, South Korea has the highest suicide rate of any “developed” country. Why? Competition (Pressure of being the best), finances, and overworked. When they become adults this sort of thing doesn’t stop, they work all the time hardly taking a day off. No vacation time is given to the Korean teachers where I work.
They are very smart, I do have to say! And most kids are very well behaved. Out of 28 classes I teach each week, which is about 300 kids a week I only have a handful that are truly terrors. So, I can’t complain. A lot of the young ones don’t know any better and are so happy, loving and sweet! Always, yelling and waving “Hello Jodylynn, Nice to meet you Jodylynn”. They are my favorite ones to teach.

These pictures were taken during Halloween.