Competition: How to Win
Our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea every year. That's no way to prepare them for a 21st century economy.
— President Obama in his speech about Complete and Competitive American Education (March 10, 2009)
Obama's remark sparked fiery discussions in the past few weeks throughout South Korea. From personal blogs to mainstream media outlets, it seems like people were emotionally charged about the test-focused ed policy.
Some claim that the US president citing the Korean education (on multiple occasions) translates to his endorsement and desire to take the standardized-test-heavvvvvy ed policy in Korea as a model for American students. Others argue that his citation is a simple statistical reference and question Koreans on why anyone would ever want to admire its crippled ed system that has little appreciation for neither critical nor creative thinking.
I'm with the latter group based on my first-hand experiences from when I lived in Seoul until the sixth grade. There are pros and cons, of course, but uniformly multiple-choice-only standardized tests fall under the cons — the worst, to be frank.
Naturally, I was drawn to further investigate this frenzied debate and became upset and hopeful at the same time. Contradictory, I know but here's why:
The upsetting part, explained in 60 sec.
video created and edited by Arianna C.
the hopeful part
Last week, hundreds of students walked out on the nationwide standardized test with the support of their parents and under the guidance of progressive teachers who arranged field trips instead. More than 5,000 also opposed the test by turning in blank test papers. This boycotting is a repeat of what resulted in a dismissal of 12 school teachers last year.