October 20, 2017, 06:07:53 PM


Author Topic: And so the madness continues......  (Read 4599 times)

Offline confusedsafferinkorea

  • The Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 4823
  • Gender: Male
  • The only thing that is constant in life, is change
And so the madness continues......
« on: February 10, 2014, 05:19:44 PM »
http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2984685&cloc=joongangdaily|home|newslist1

Students sacrifice year to ‘study again’ for test.


Talking to members of opposite sex banned


Last Nov. 7 was a do-or-die day for Kim Min-chan, a high school senior in Seoul. It was the day that he and hundreds of thousands of young men and women took the College Scholastic Aptitude Test, which would dictate what university Kim would get into.

When Kim got his results 20 days later, he realized that his dreams of going to a good school had died the day of the exam.

“Throughout my high school years, I stayed at school every night until 10 p.m. studying for the Suneong,” says the 18-year-old, using the nickname for the all-important test. “But I didn’t score well enough to go to the university I wanted.”

What occurred next was remorse, some grueling self-reflection and a solemn decision. Kim decided to go to an 11-month program at an educational institution dedicated to getting him into a decent college. Kim signed up on Dec. 21, barely a month after he took the CSAT.

“I came with my parents on enrollment day,” Kim says from Goshiwon Academy, a 30-year-old private boarding school on a remote mountain covered in pine trees in Yongin, Gyeonggi. “I told them I will not fail again.”

The idea is not that different from a fifth-year prep program in the United States. But this being Korea, the conditions facing jaesusaeng, or “study-again” students, are of a rigor that few American 18-year-olds would be willing to accept - or even believe.

The list of items forbidden at the school, which claims to be the country’s oldest such institution, illustrates the point. Cell phones, TVs, laptops, fashion magazines and books that are not related to the test, such as novels, are all on the list. A student is allowed to make a telephone call with permission for a teacher in his or her office.

For girls, make-up products are prohibited, as are hair dryers.

“We consider it [a hair drier] as an item that distracts them from studying,” Lee Sang-woo, the headmaster of the academy, tells the Korea JoongAng Daily.

“And although it is not mandatory for girls to keep their hair short,” Lee continues, “we recommend them to do so, saying it helps them focus on studying.”

Korea has a reputation for education madness that drives students to study relentlessly, attend expensive cram days and sometimes commit suicide. It’s not uncommon to see classrooms in normal high schools lit up well past 10 p.m. with students inside sighing over textbooks. One joke says the night view of Seoul is particularly striking because of all the office workers and students laboring into the night in their offices and classrooms.

However, for Korean, it’s not madness but rather reality, as the university one attends play a huge part in determining the success of his or her later life, including the type of job he or she can get and even marriage prospects.

Korean parents invest a lot into getting their children into the best possible university.

According to the Organization of Economic-Cooperation and Development, Korean families spend an average of 10.7 percent of their monthly income per child for private tutoring. Korea’s private education market is estimated to be 22 trillion won ($20.4 billion) as of 2008, according to the Korea Educational Development Institute.

“It is a big financial burden for us, but this was an inevitable choice,” says the father of a teenager boy surnamed Cho who was enrolled in Goshiwon Academy by his mother and father last Wednesday - inevitable because his CSAT scores just weren’t good enough.

“As he will be cut off from the outside,” the father continues, “my son will concentrate much better here on his studies.”

In fact, according to headmaster Lee, students forced to come to the school by their parents don’t usually survive.

“Students unwilling to be here can’t stand sitting at desks for hours and hours,” Lee says, “and quit the program within a week.”

When the Korea JoongAng Daily visited the campus last week, about 30 of students were enrolled, not a small number considering that the college admission process for next year won’t even be complete until the end of this month and the next CSAT is more than nine months away.

The 30-some students are mostly high school seniors like Kim who took the?entrance exam?last November and know they didn’t do well enough. They will have their not-so-pleasant high school graduation ceremonies this month. All will attend, and then swiftly return to their new home on a mountain kilometers away from the nearest convenience store and pick up their books.

The daily schedule begins at 7 a.m. Teachers wake the students and after five minutes of exercise, breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. Classes run from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an hour off for lunch. From 3 p.m. through 10 p.m., students study on their own, memorizing English vocabulary or solving math questions, without uttering a word. Dinner is also an hour.

At 10 p.m., students line up outside their dormitory-style bedroom for a military-style roll call. Then they resume studying on a desk next to their beds, usually until midnight.

The studying continues on weekends, although one three-day weekend leave is allowed once a month.

All students wear identical school-issued sweatshirts and pants. No personal clothing is allowed except for winter jackets.

“We provide a very restrictive set of rules for students to follow in order to provide them the best environment for studying,” said Kim Hyun-jong, one of the 25 teachers. The school is proud of its educational techniques and says they’ve been widely copied by 40-some boarding schools that opened after it did in 1984.

“There was once a time when corporal punishment was a common practice,” the teacher continues, “but we don’t do that anymore. Times have changed.”

But not everyone can adjust to such military-like restrictions. Park Joon-su, 19, who signed up for a boarding school in Icheon, Gyeonggi, in December 2012, said he couldn’t stand living there after a month.

“Teachers were yelling at students, sometimes even using foul language,” said Kim, who is now awaiting college admission results.

“The classrooms looked like prison cells with bars on the doors. Teachers would peek through the bars to check on us, making me feel like I was imprisoned.”

The Goshiwon Academy charges 2.17 million won a month per student, which includes tuition, room and board.

The main three-story building on Goshiwon’s campus is used for classrooms and two other buildings are dormitories. Inside each building, surveillance cameras are installed, recording the students behavior round the clock. There are 13 CCTV cameras in the classrooms as well as the hallways of the main building and the dormitory. There are no cameras in the bedrooms or bathrooms.

“Parents can check on how their children are doing by accessing those CCTVs on the Internet,” said Kim of the Goshiwon. Usually, students’ mothers are interested in checking up on their children, especially in their first month, the school says.

Dating is strictly forbidden on campus, and to ensure it doesn’t happen, students are prohibited from conversing with members of the opposite sex, including in the cafeteria. Even a conversation about work is not allowed. If a student of one sex drops a pen, a student of the other sex isn’t allowed to retrieve it.

“Sometimes boys get excited when they hear a girl just enrolled and they ask whether she’s cute or not,” says Jeon Chan-yang, who enrolled at the academy last December. “But girls and boys can’t talk to each other here.” The 22-year-old student is on a leave of absence after a second year at a university in Seoul. She wants to transfer to a top-tier university.

“It may not be culturally and socially right to have these set of restrictions in place,” acknowledges headmaster Lee, who goes on to make a startling comparison between the school and an authoritarian government.

“The strength of a military government is its efficiency in achieving its objectives within a short period of time,” Lee says. “The same goes for here. For an overriding goal of going to the best colleges, students here willingly give up privileges they enjoyed outside. The point is whether you are ready to give up all that you enjoyed for eight to 10 months of your life.”

Asked whether there was an indoor gym for students exercise, a teacher replied brusquely, “That would be needless. Why waste their energy on something other than studying? That would only distract them.”

In an English class, a teacher was explaining the subtle points of English grammar, asking students the difference between two sentences that read, “If you are honest, I will employ you,” and “If you were honest, I would employ you.” Students busily took notes from the teacher, but no one bothered to talk to their classmates in English for practice - English speaking is not part of the crucial CSAT.

On the wall along a stairwell, frames were hung in a row. Each photo was of a graduate of the academy returning for a visit. One photo had eight graduates posing in front of the academy’s main gate, with a caption that read, “A visit by graduates who went on to top-tier colleges.”

Everything is not as it seems.

No one owes you anything.... get over it.

NEVER think a failure is the end of the world, it is the beginning of a new opportunity.

There is no known medical cure for stupidity!

Offline waygo0k

  • The Legend
  • *****
  • Posts: 3482
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2014, 05:45:25 PM »
Quote
but no one bothered to talk to their classmates in English for practice - English speaking is not part of the crucial CSAT.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of the matter.

I don't know the success rate of this institution, it would be interesting to see their numbers. The place just sounds like a massive scam to me.....and there's no shortage of gullible parents willing to ship little Sun Min there at a cost of at least 50% of the family's household income so he/she can go to a SKY uni and end up working 16+ hours a day, 6 days a week for Samsung, only to be forced to retire in his/her 50s.

The problem isn't the students. The parents themselves know this, but rather than find a way NOT to prolong their child's torture and enhance the risk of suicide, they pile the stuff on 100-fold!

Korea is becoming EXACTLY like Japan. It's things like this that will end up affecting the economy and the country's demographic in the not too distant future.

Sad, sad....SAD

Offline DownnDirty

  • Veteran
  • **
  • Posts: 83
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 05:49:07 PM »
I think one of the biggest challenges is Korea simply doesn't know what to do with young people, socially. 

I compare this to my friends who spent a gap year abroad, figuring out their lives or even doing some kind of internship/apprenticeship as opposed to being funneled into university without a good idea of what they wanted to do/be and it makes me sad.  I'm also amazed at how little value is placed on anything other than test scores: skills, experience, dreams?  Nah, go to study prison until you get a top score. 

Offline EL34

  • Expert Waygook
  • ****
  • Posts: 728
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2014, 05:55:21 PM »
Their "educational techniques" seem like gimmicks designed to impress a certain type of parent.

Offline SpaceRook

  • Expert Waygook
  • ****
  • Posts: 814
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2014, 06:17:11 PM »
I would be more impressed by Korea's education system if it didn't cause such a socially maladjusted workforce that requires employees to habitually get drunk with each other just to facilitate basic communication.

But by all means....spend a year at the study school with no access to the outside world or communication with members of the opposite sex.  Let me know how that works out, mmmkay?


Offline taeyang

  • Moderator - LVL 4
  • Waygook Lord
  • *
  • Posts: 5371
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2014, 06:36:10 PM »
sounds like hell.
use google to search the site

site:waygook.org XXXX

replace 'XXXX' with your search term

Offline EvilToast

  • Super Waygook
  • ***
  • Posts: 428
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2014, 07:19:28 PM »
Send a socially awkward kid into isolation, with nothing but a textbook for company, for a year... Yeah, I can imagine what kind of nutcase will emerge.

Offline matthews_world

  • Super Waygook
  • ***
  • Posts: 447
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2014, 10:34:53 PM »
It all depends on what type of test is presented each year. 

If you all remember, it was either the 2012 or 2013 entrance exam was super easy and this caused a glut in college admissions, causing universities to increase their admission criteria. 

It's not so much the education system but personal luck when not knowing what kind of exam is going your going to get.

Offline rococobean

  • Waygookin
  • *
  • Posts: 22
  • Gender: Female
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2014, 10:53:27 PM »
I lost my first ever boyfriend to one of these types of schools back in high school - just sucked him up and I never saw him again, literally. I just got an e-mail one day telling me he's sorry but he has to focus on his studies. :rolleyes:

Quite traumatizing to a 15 year old American girl who knew little about the Korean culture at that time though. Oddly enough it was located in New Jersey - an all Korean-native high school jail in middle America (why the parents didn't just bring them back to Korea for it still baffles me).
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 10:55:47 PM by rococobean »

Offline Dadkinson

  • Adventurer
  • *
  • Posts: 39
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2014, 12:19:51 AM »
I would be more impressed by Korea's education system if it didn't cause such a socially maladjusted workforce that requires employees to habitually get drunk with each other just to facilitate basic communication.


^ THIS. THIS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IS GOLD. SINCERELY.

Offline EL34

  • Expert Waygook
  • ****
  • Posts: 728
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2014, 12:57:02 AM »
I would be more impressed by Korea's education system if it didn't cause such a socially maladjusted workforce that requires employees to habitually get drunk with each other just to facilitate basic communication.

But by all means....spend a year at the study school with no access to the outside world or communication with members of the opposite sex.  Let me know how that works out, mmmkay?

Mmm...Explain why my in-laws, who don't drink (intolerance to alcohol runs in the family), are very successful. Yeah, keep your ill-informed ideas to yourself.

Offline Wintermute

  • Hero of Waygookistan
  • *****
  • Posts: 1196
  • Gender: Male
  • High School - Speech
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2014, 04:49:41 AM »
"Their methods may seem extreme to American 18 year olds."

"students are not allowed cell phones, tv, laptops, or make up, and can only make phone calls in the office"

Soooooo kind of like every school ever in America?!?! Those cray cray Koreans with their 'extreme' methods of doing things, will we silly MURRICANS ever learn to be more diligent and studious like the Korean master race. 

Offline btpham13

  • Expert Waygook
  • ****
  • Posts: 509
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2014, 09:53:19 AM »
"Their methods may seem extreme to American 18 year olds."

"students are not allowed cell phones, tv, laptops, or make up, and can only make phone calls in the office"

Soooooo kind of like every school ever in America?!?! Those cray cray Koreans with their 'extreme' methods of doing things, will we silly MURRICANS ever learn to be more diligent and studious like the Korean master race.

I believe this is the part of the article you're mentioning:

Quote
The list of items forbidden at the school, which claims to be the country’s oldest such institution, illustrates the point. Cell phones, TVs, laptops, fashion magazines and books that are not related to the test, such as novels, are all on the list. A student is allowed to make a telephone call with permission for a teacher in his or her office.

If my reading comprehension is correct, I believe they're at the school all day, for a whole year.  Which means they also live at the school in a dormitory.  If that is the case, then they are not allowed any of those items at all, whether it's in the classroom (no brainer) or in their dorms during their "free time" (that'd be a bit cray cray).

Offline rococobean

  • Waygookin
  • *
  • Posts: 22
  • Gender: Female
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2014, 09:54:44 AM »
Soooooo kind of like every school ever in America?!?! Those cray cray Koreans with their 'extreme' methods of doing things, will we silly MURRICANS ever learn to be more diligent and studious like the Korean master race.

Eh? I don't know how the two kinds of schools are at all comparative.

In most U.S schools these days they don't allow cellphones to be in use during school hours but you can live without a cellphone until 2:30 in the afternoon. A 7:30-2:30 school day would be a dream in Korea, even in "normal" public schooling.

The schools talked about in the article are more like boarding school hell lock-downs. You live there, you don't go home every night so you can catch up on the latest dramas. These rules are 24/7. Also, I don't know where you lived in the States but in Massachusetts make-up was definitely allowed in all public schools, at least it was 8 years ago.

Offline Nivea

  • Hero of Waygookistan
  • *****
  • Posts: 1644
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2014, 09:57:00 AM »
I was once doing some interviews of HS students for my MOE and one of the schools I visited had a boarding facility. Some of the kids were leaving at around 9.00am on the Saturday morning. But some were sticking around. Not sure what free time they had.

Offline ppolicherla91

  • Veteran
  • **
  • Posts: 108
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2014, 09:59:12 AM »
I realize that not all comments are negative, but yeah this does probably seem extreme from a western stand point but given the way that things work here, job wise, I get it. Plus there are boarding schools like that in america as well(Military school). And for those of you griping about how they aren't focusing on spoken english because its not tested and saying its a problem. Its a problem for us as english teachers yes, but they do not really need to speak english. A lot of them just need it for the test and will go on to jobs that probably do not require it and will never use it.

Offline nschenk512

  • Super Waygook
  • ***
  • Posts: 294
  • Gender: Female
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2014, 10:38:49 AM »
Now I'm concerned that my middle cousin wants to do this. He didn't get into the engineering school he wanted, so he's taking a gap year to study for the Suneung again... Poor dear...

Offline gtrain83

  • Hero of Waygookistan
  • *****
  • Posts: 1757
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2014, 10:43:00 AM »
I realize that not all comments are negative, but yeah this does probably seem extreme from a western stand point but given the way that things work here, job wise, I get it. Plus there are boarding schools like that in america as well(Military school). And for those of you griping about how they aren't focusing on spoken english because its not tested and saying its a problem. Its a problem for us as english teachers yes, but they do not really need to speak english. A lot of them just need it for the test and will go on to jobs that probably do not require it and will never use it.

This is a huge problem. They treat, or pretend to treat, our class as life and death but in reality it means nothing. So we have to put up with all kinds of crazy BS for no reason. Either fix it or don't sugar coat your bs job ads. Or just drop the program. (EPIK) 

Offline thejesusman

  • Super Waygook
  • ***
  • Posts: 250
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2014, 11:18:55 AM »
I would be more impressed by Korea's education system if it didn't cause such a socially maladjusted workforce that requires employees to habitually get drunk with each other just to facilitate basic communication.

But by all means....spend a year at the study school with no access to the outside world or communication with members of the opposite sex.  Let me know how that works out, mmmkay?


non drinkers in western society tend to be more succesful too.... That's not just Korea....

Mmm...Explain why my in-laws, who don't drink (intolerance to alcohol runs in the family), are very successful. Yeah, keep your ill-informed ideas to yourself.
Rocking out in the ROK!!! :D

Offline orangeman

  • Hero of Waygookistan
  • *****
  • Posts: 1769
  • Gender: Male
Re: And so the madness continues......
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2014, 11:19:59 AM »
I wouldn't want to be a Korean kid (or adult) and it would suck to be forced into one of these places. 

BUT

I'm really tired of hearing how hard Korean kids have it.  Yeah, they "study" a lot.  But the way they define studying is very different from what we define as studying.  Sitting at a desk is "studying" in Korea, no matter what you're doing.  You could be sleeping, playing games, texting, talking, staring off into space... It matters not.  If you are sitting at a desk and there are books in the vicinity then you are a master "studyer".  It's the same with work here, most of us have learned this from our co-teachers.  Sleep at your desk all day and occssionally wake up and run around with your arms flailing screaming, "SO BUSY!".  Koreans are very very good at making things look much harder than they really are. 

Second, Korean kids have, in general, absolutely zero responsibilities beyond this "studying".  They don't have jobs, paper routes, real sports teams (not sport hogwans), clubs, or household chores.  Most Korean kids are absolutely coddled and babied until well into their 20s (or 30s...men in particular usually never grow out of this).  So yes, when you compare the hours spent "studying" to kids in your home country it looks outrageous.  Then you remember that's all they're expected to do all day.  That's not in addition to a PT job, or the school newspaper, or the football team, or washing dishes, or babysitting, or any sort of hobby beyond WoW.  That's it. 

Third, although these tests are terrible, we've all seen how this plays out.  Korean kids have absolutely no pressure on them to do well before this college entrance exam.  Anyone here who claims otherwise has only bought into the Korean penchant for making things look so hard.  Students don't fail here, it just doesn't happen.  Don't think it's just your English class.  I have had students who literally don't even know how to read Hanguel and have severe behavioural and/or learning disabilities, but they move on each year.  Kids get away with doing no work in school because they're "tired" from hogwans.  They get away with doing no work in hogwans because they are "tired" from school.  Again, don't think it's just your crappy English hogwan this happens at.  Homework is copied, textbooks usually filled out by friends or teachers to appease parents.  There are no indepenedent projects, or 15 page papers.  Plagarism is expected and accepted.  Tests are often done as an unofficial group, answers given beforehand, scored bumped up. 

Fourth, yeah it'd suck not having your cell phone or laptop.  I remember having to do that once.  It was called "My life before I was 25-ish".  This isn't some old man rant about "back in my day!"  It really would suck to have to give all those things up today.  But they're not necessities.  Entire generations went without them for eons.  It's not like taking away food or fresh air.  Plus, anyone who believes that actually happens is fooling themselves.  Again, what's reported in Korea vs what actually happens usually has a large gap.  Besides, kids are kids.  They find a way.  If  my buddy could get a porno mag into the dug out of my first baseball tournament, these kids can get an electronic device into this place. 

All I'm saying is I'm a bit tired of foreigners falling for this "POOR KOREANS!" crap.  They do it to themselves, and it's not nearly as bad as they make it out to be.  If you've been here just a few months you should be able to see how Koreans play this sort of thing up to the extreme.  It's like still believing Korean food is the spiciest in the world after eating everything on the menu here.  Koreans believe it because they have nothing to compare it to, but we should know better. 

 

Buy/Sell/Trade

Employment