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Eep. Educational hell. - Walking on the Edge
I don't really have a plan...
foresthouse
foresthouse
Eep. Educational hell.
These places sound hellish:

Elite Korean Schools, Forging Ivy League Skills

Is this really the best way to educate one's children? (Make sure and read p. 2 for a description of the insane "day" these students have.) They study ALL the time, they have no social or romantic lives or interests (so it appears), they barely ever sleep enough...it doesn't sound healthy, either physically or mentally, for a high-school age student.

For one, sleep deprivation (even if self-imposed) can't be good for one's health (and possibly brain cells?) or learning/memory retention. For another, these kids don't sound like they're going to be well-rounded, socially. If their parents' goals are to get them accepted to these universities so they can have great, high-paying jobs later...well, you have to interview for those types of jobs, so the schools ought to be working on people skills, too, and making sure that when someone says, "So, how 'bout them Yankees?" in an interview, these kids don't go, "What's a Yankee? Huh? What's baseball? I have this textbook, let me look it up!"

Also, I could be wrong, here, but I would bet money that a bunch of these kids will just burn the hell out around 20-30 years old. You work SO hard to get into the school, you get to school and keep working so hard, and at some point you stop and go, "I think I'm missing something important, here," or, "why is this so important, anyway? I want to have a little fun!" and it's all downhill from there.

Where's the creativity, the growth of a person that should be encouraged at that age? Where's the joie de vivre? I don't know. It sounds like hell to me.

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Trixie feels: curious curious

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dgenerator From: dgenerator Date: May 9th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC) (current file)
I have very strong feelings on this subject, oddly. I can't even explain why - or at least I can't in any short period of time. Your estimate is almost entirely correct, though.

These elite prep schools and elite Japanese high schools both follow a very similar structure in terms of how information is aquired by students. That is to say, they're modelled primarily on the eductational system of early 20th century Prussian/Austro-Hungarian empires. The primary difference seems to be that the Korean prep schools have modernized slightly and are more capable of pandering to the american college admissions boards.

Basically, the system crushes the life out of the students. The combination of the east asian in/out group mode of behavior (which necessitates socially exiling someone, as well as strongly discourages noncomformist behavior) combined with gruelling testing, constant evaluation and an anti-experimental attitude on the part of administration pretty much guarantees that the students that come out of that school system without rebelling against it in some fashion will be broken in some fashion.

-The system does not allow for personal expression. Or, to paraphrase Mr. Lif, "What I mean I was told that in life there's a goal / And this goal, those without it die unhappy and cold." Go to school. Learn so you can get into an american school. Get a job. Work at it. Progress. Earn money. Die without questioning why you're doing it. It's total bullshit, and it's why there's such a huge suicide problem in Japan, as well as why increasing numbers of people are dropping out of school or are dropping out of life and becoming homeless afterward. I do mean that literally. Many Japanese have discovered that they hated school, and the mode of living that school prepared for them is also something they hate, so they just...give up. Because they don't know how to adapt to a changing life, because they've never learned how to change. They've learned how not to.

-The system doesn't teach you how to be a human being. Like you said, where's the daily life? Where's any indication that they'll learn how to live? There isn't any - in fact, given that the school is actively suppressing ordinary behavior, I'd say they're even stunting it. And that even ties into later success. We can assume that this preparation is all in order to have a better (read: more successful) life. But how can you be more successfull in this century if your ability to socialize, adapt, change, synthesize or empathize has been stunted or deliberately repressed? I'd love to see one of these people try to get a job as a PM with Microsoft, say. They might have that engineering or comp sci degree, but without social skills, they'd never make it past the first loop of interviews - the team they were interviewing with would just say, "Not a good fit. Unable to integrate with team."*

-Perhaps most amusing of all is that the system produces terrible students. Because it stresses a particular type of learning and punishes independent exploration, they'll end up being crap at any non-technical degree. Oh, they'd make fine physicists or electrical engineers or economists. But sociologists? Psychologists? Anything requiring original inquiry and data synthesis? No way. I went to school with some people like this. Uniformly, the only ones that were any good at what they were doing outside of learning facts were the ones who had already had a burnout and decided now was their time to remember that learning could be fun. And they were a small minority. I recall forcing a girl from Japan to argue a point that the professor didn't believe it, just so that I could show her that it could be done. She was so incredibly confused.

I think a lot of my loathing for that schooling system stems from the fact that without any deviation, every single artist, writer, musician, film maker or free thinker I admire in either Japan or Korea has excoriated it or called for students to rebel from it.
At least in Japan, it's slowly dying out. Looks like it might just be entering a new renaissance in Korea.

*(Well, maybe not all teams. MS Access and MS Support have a lot of social retards. But most teams would kibosh them anyway.)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 9th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC) (current file)
You sum up what I'm feeling on this very eloquently. (I have rather strong feelings about what I see as bad education, myself. I don't have a degree in education, but what with having 13 teachers in the family in several generations...well, I think it's an instinct by now. Heh.)

The irony of these schools is they're turning out kids they think will do really well in American schools - and they may, academically (and particularly in science/math stuff, as you point out). But in terms of, to get somewhat patriotic, here, "the American spirit" of innovation, entrepreneurship, creative thinking, etc., I don't think the kids will have a clue.

I didn't know Japan had a high suicide rate. Huh.

Many Japanese have discovered that they hated school, and the mode of living that school prepared for them is also something they hate, so they just...give up.

Even I've felt an echo of that (not that I hated school, really, but I think everyone hits moments where they go, "this is not what I want to do right now") but at least I've learned to be adaptable and to recognize that I have to change course if I'm unhappy. I can't imagine what I'd feel like if I had that feeling and didn't know how to deal with it, because that instinct had been crushed out of me.

Urgh. It makes me feel sad for these poor kids - I feel like they'll be so indoctrinated when they get out that only a few of them will ever even realize there's another way to learn and live.
dgenerator From: dgenerator Date: May 9th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC) (current file)
Yes, what you said. The "american way" and this schooling style just do not work together. And the indoctrination is the root of the problem - if you spend years establishing a pattern, how do you break that pattern later in life?

And yes, Japan has an incredibly high suicide rate. 32,000 suicides per year, at about 100 people per day. That's one every fifteen minutes. The US, by comparison, has a suicide rate of 30,000 a year... but almost triple the population.

As an aside, I've very rarely had that feeling that I didn't want to do school. I had a feeling that I didn't want to be poor because of it, but that's different. In fact, I kinda feel like I should be in academia as a career, and may have made a mistake by not persuing it.

But then I wake up and realize I enjoy my rock and roll lifestyle too much to go back to school, and I'm not defined by what I did before, but rather by what I will do.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC) (current file)
Oh, I never really had that feeling about school (because I *wasn't* in hell, even though my parents were pretty strict and demanding). I meant more like there are some days I think, "I'd rather be writing stories" or something, but, hey, one has to pay the bills. :) And I like my work most of the time.

I wouldn't mind teaching at some point.
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foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC) (current file)
Yeah - there are times when it can be bad to just keep giving another chance and another chance, but in general, the idea that people can learn from their mistakes, pull themselves together, and do better next time is a good one, rather than, "you failed, you are clearly worthless."
chrryblssmninja From: chrryblssmninja Date: May 10th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC) (current file)
I didn't know Japan had a high suicide rate. Huh.
yeah, there are chat rooms and stuff where students get together and form suicide groups, so they won't die alone. It's really sad.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC) (current file)
Oh, wow. That's terrible.
kahlan_amnell From: kahlan_amnell Date: May 10th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC) (current file)
I would agree with what everyone has said. These schools cause huge amounts of stress and suppress normal behavior. They could not be good for the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health.

However…
Having gone to difficult private schools in the US, I find little other than the extended hours and the lack of extracurricular activities shocking in that article.

When I went to boarding school, my day would often start with 6:00 am work in the kitchen (required school service) and end with study hall from 8:00-10:00 pm, half an hour of free time, dorm closing (have to be in the dorm) at 10:30 possibly followed by more study. However, all the time in between wasn't taken up with class. We had significant free time and extracurricular activities were required: we had to participate in a least one or two. Everyone was really relaxed and spent lots of time acting like teenagers. Dating was common, and quite intense because of the amount of time couples could spend together. Most people weren't all that concerned about what college they went to so long as they went to one.

Before that, when I went to an all girls day school, I got there by 8:00 and rarely left before 6:00, much later if I had drama rehearsal or a swim team practice. Classes were pretty much solid from 8:40-3:20 with only a 20-40 min break for lunch, and the occasional 40 min free period. 3:20-6:00 or later was extracurriculars. Everyone there who was in the honors/AP track wanted to go to top 25 schools. My classmates there would probably look down on the college that I did attend, it was thought of as a safety school. Those of us who had been there since Kindergarten or sometime in elementary school rarely dated since we knew almost no boys. Among many of my peers at that school, lesbian was about the worst insult you could call someone there. (Thus why it took me till my junior/senior year of high school, when I was at boarding school, to realize I was bisexual.)

I do almost envy these Korean students for probably having good teachers in every subject, that was not always the case even at my expensive (more than the Korean schools) private schools. I don't envy the stress, particularly from parents, and the lack of normal teenage behavior.

Edited at 2008-05-10 12:27 am (UTC)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 04:27 am (UTC) (current file)
See, the difference I see (the *good* difference) is that it sounds like your schools, while grueling, ensured that you would have some kind of creative or athletic activities to round out the constant studying. I am not saying I'd have preferred to be in a rigid boarding school when I was in high school to the place I was, but I think it would still be better than what those Korean schools sound like, AND would work better for preparing people for actual, full lives. (Not that I'm dismissing how demanding your school sounded.)
kahlan_amnell From: kahlan_amnell Date: May 11th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC) (current file)
Oh I agree completely that there is a significant difference. The academic perfectionist in me sometimes wishes I had gone to a more demanding school, but I know I am a better rounded person for having gone to schools that had us do more that just study.

I wasn't trying to say that I thought what these schools was doing was good for the students.

Sorry if my comment sounded wrong, I'm rather stressed by end the semester papers and probably shouldn't be commenting on LJ as much as I have been.
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC) (current file)
Don't worry - I got what you were saying. :)

Speaking of having some time to de-stress - make sure you don't burn yourself out on those papers! :)
kahlan_amnell From: kahlan_amnell Date: May 11th, 2008 05:08 am (UTC) (current file)
Thanks! At least they are almost done, one is due Tuesday and the other Friday. However, I'll immediately have to start reading for my summer class. *Reminds self that she really wants to take this summer class.*

I went to a cookies and coffee break at the library, and they are having pizza tomorrow night and the night after, so that's good. The history department is having a party on Tuesday that I'll probably stop into. Also, I take at least an hour walk everyday for exercise and stress reduction. The walks give me an excuse to show up at these party and food events as well. ;)
foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC) (current file)
Sounds like you've got some fun stuff going on amidst the drear of paperdom. That's good!

Walks are excellent and therapeutic. :)
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foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC) (current file)
Yeah - I've had moments in my life when I went, "WHUT? Where did all that time go while I was just studying and stuff?" That's why I think it'll be so much worse for these kids, because I *did* have some fun, free time, and extracurricular activities throughout my life. It's like the focus my parents and school put on succeeding (which was fairly heavy) times 20.
jillybinks From: jillybinks Date: May 10th, 2008 01:29 am (UTC) (current file)
I spent a year going to a top school in South Africa and while it wasn't as bad as those schools, it was quite a shock for me. The top students were insane when it came to studying. Pulling allnighters for all tests, sacrificing everything for their grades. Most of the classes were harder than the classes I had in college. It was a little weird.

But, given that there were only a few universities in South Africa and they only took the top students, everyone had to be the best. It was very strange coming from a school that pretty much passed you if you had bothered to show up.


foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC) (current file)
Eep. It does sound stressful.
chrryblssmninja From: chrryblssmninja Date: May 10th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC) (current file)
Its founder, Lee Won-hee, worried in an interview that while Daewon was turning out high-scoring students, it might be falling short in educating them as responsible citizens.

“American schools may do a better job at that,” Dr. Lee said.

At first, I wanted to snicker "yeah, us Americans are responsible citizens," and then I realized that in this case, the comparison is probably true.

I know that Koreans also like to send I think high school students to schools in the Philippines, because the Philippines is much more of an English-speaking country and they would learn the language better. It's cheaper than probably that school or sending them to the US before college.

Even a 98 or a 99 brought a tongue-lashing.
oh dear.

I wonder what happens when they get to the Ivy Leagues. My first high school, Lynbrook, was relatively high pressure academic-focused for US public schools. We were in a really competitive district. Our district rival, Monta Vista, was up in the hills, where the even richer and more pressured students went. Even though most of the students at Lynbrook ended up at top universities, Monta Vista students called us like "the rich ghetto." But at least our students didn't kill themselves over studies in high school, like several of theirs had done...
but one of the students from Lynbrook got into NYU. She wasn't used to all the social pressures outside of the "Lynbrook bubble" of mostly Asian, study-focused overachievers who pile up sports and extracurricular activities and take the SATs over and over for better scores... She killed herself.

I hope it doesn't happen to these kids.

Not that we weren't supergeekyantisocial at Lynbrook. It was just a different mindset people had. A lot of the popular flirty students with the latest fashions were also overachievers. It was...just really different. I was glad that I was sort of critical of the mindset since my elementary school years; and that I moved somewhere else for the rest of my high school years...


foresthouse From: foresthouse Date: May 11th, 2008 04:36 am (UTC) (current file)
Oh, wow. Yeah, one of the reasons this struck a chord for me was that my parents were strict with me, achievement-wise, and I went to school with a lot of Asian kids and know how strict their parents can be. To have that pressure doubled by this kind of school...urgh. In college, I briefly had a roommate (long story short, they stuck her on my floor while she was studying to take her TOEFL, so she wasn't actually admitted yet, and our floor was an honors floor which was supposed to be only admitted honors students, so when they figured out the SNAFU she was moved) who was Korean and had been in the US in Oklahoma for only 6 weeks or something before coming to the school. So she was not very assimilated yet, and literally ALL she did was sleep, study at her desk for the language test, and practice her violin in the basement practice rooms. I kind of understood it because I know how strict Asian parents and schools can be, but I also felt a bit bad/worried for her being so isolated and tried to help her adapt to the culture of college.

It may have been helpful, I don't know, but I remember I invited her to one Halloween party thrown by a friend of mine, and I think she had the biggest case of culture shock I've ever seen. People having fun? In somewhat revealing costumes? Dancing together? Drinking? ZOMG. She was completely uncomfortable and didn't know how to act at all. (I invited her to much less crazy affairs, too, heh. But that was the one where I remember thinking, "Wow, she has NO CLUE about this side of life, does she?")
chrryblssmninja From: chrryblssmninja Date: May 11th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC) (current file)
yeah. I hope that these students can find people like you who at least try to ease them into social situations. Because being social and having fun is not just important for life in America, but life anywhere. One of the most popular Korean movies I've heard about is My Sassy Girl, about a totally free-spirited, hyper, fun girl who drives her boyfriend crazy with her antics but is lovable to everyone anyway. I wonder if it's a favorite among many of the Korean students sent to these elite schools...or if the parents of those students even let them watch movies...
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