Results of a survey released last week by the Institute for Social Development Studies at Seoul’s Yonsei University show that Korean teenagers are by far the unhappiest in the OECD. This is the result of society’s relentless focus on education—or rather, exam results. The average child attends not only regular school, but also a series of hagwons, private after-school “academies” that cram English, maths, and proficiency in the “respectable” musical instruments, ie piano and violin, into tired children’s heads. Almost 9% of children are forcedto attend such places even later than 11pm, despite tuitions between 10pm and 5am being illegal.
Psychologists blame this culture for all manner of ills, from poor social skills to the nation’s unacceptably high rate of youth suicide, which is now the leading cause of death among those aged 15-24. Recently, a spate of suicides at KAIST, a technology-focused university, has drawn national attention. For most students the pinnacle of stress is reached somewhat earlier, in the third year of high school. This is the year in which the suneung (university entrance exam) is taken. Tragic reactions to the stress it creates are all too common.
The problem with too much schooling is that 90% of the stuff kids are taught in schools is useless. The big problem is that these 90% are different for each and every kid. School fails if through more than a decade, that kids spend at schools, they don’t find out what 10% they need to focus on. What’s more important, we don’t know whether these 10% comes from formal education, or from something outside. Yes, there are some critical things that have to be taught in schools, like reading, writing, and math that’s the important part – yet, there are many people who are doing great without any number crunching. This being said, we need to think about the fundamentals of child development. Too often we the parents are only thinking about College, Great Education, Future and what jobs will our Children will have.
“Forget that for the moment, if we push the children too hard, they will grow up without ever having a childhood, playing with friends, getting to know the world, and finding out about whats’ around them. We keep the pressure on, thinking we are doing the best thing for our children, when probably, we are the single biggest reason for them to fail. They fail, out of rebellion, for being alone, because we were too interested in our own futures, jobs and friends, and just did not take the time for our own children.” Hotdogfish!
- Professor’s presidency criticized (tech.mit.edu)