My Two-Fold Theory on Self-Destructive Study Patterns in Korea

sleepingToday in class, all my students were asleep. Teaching them was like pulling teeth: not pleasant at all. I’m constantly discouraged by the educational system in Korea, particularly hagwons. But more than the system itself is the mindset that drives and encourages the system. Hagwons in and of themselves are not evil or even bad. They are present to fill a need (real or perceived) and they generally succeed in what they strive to do. Rather it is the “need” that drives much of the success or failure of schools and hagwons in Korea. The need is: to receive high quality education, learn enormous amounts of material quickly, pass difficult high school and university entrance tests with flying colors, graduate from an “Ivy League” (or at least upper-level) school, and ultimately have all money, wealth, and fame lavished upon them for their accomplishments. However, in their rush to get a jump on the competition and increase their own standing, I feel that many students (with their parents’ strong encouragement) are actually doing themselves more harm than good. Often I feel, the very goals these students are attempting to achieve are hindered by their own self-destructive study patterns.

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A Statement on the Suicide of Former Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun

roh_moo-hyun_1409617fWhat a sad statement for Korea and all Koreans on May 23, 2009 as former President Roh committed suicide in the early morning hours. It’s not only regretful to see your former (well-loved) President commit suicide in the midst of a bribery/corruption/investigation/scandal, but also to realize that your country has the highest rate of suicide among all the OECD countries and now kills nearly as many people as cancer. Add that to the fact that Korea is ranked 6th in the world for most dangerous countries to drive in (traffic accidents here are as regular as rain), and the birth rate is the lowest in the world and we’re looking at a nation facing crisis (but undoubtedly in denial).

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