When we coin an odd sounding term like “Education Police” we immediately conjure thoughts about the state and it’s cane wielding cops chasing after truants and drop-outs, making sure they get back to the classroom. In a communist regime perhaps but as we all know, communism is no longer cool these days, if not totally dead. In this era of global democracy where people have the liberty to educate themselves to their own liking, the idea of Education Police unexpectedly sprung up in democratic South Korea on a completely different mission – to prevent students from killing themselves from studying too much. In the land of Hyundai, Samsung and LG, competition for good jobs is tightening up that families are willing to bet their houses so their kids can get to the elite universities. Shades of Pilipinas eh ? You can’t get a good job in Pinas nowadays if you’re not from the elite schools . I heard stories of security guards rejecting applicants right at the door if they’re not elite school graduates. Tough competition like Korea except that we don’t have global giant corporations like Hyundai, Samsung, LG to show for. We are twice as many in numbers as the South Koreans making jobs even harder to find. In short, we’re behaving like the South Koreans but we don’t have the industrial infrastructure to show for and we are increasing our population with total abandon as if hoping that one day, mannah will fall from heaven to quench our hunger and thirst permanently. I am completely befuddled by people who totally miss a crucial point in the population control debate, that in order for a country to be progressive, it has to produce a population of potential taxpayers and not freeloaders, wanderers and hobos.
Now that I’ve made my spiel 😡 , back to the issue. The Education Police was formed not by design but by force of circumstance, when the South Korean government discovered that students are spending too much time studying, going to “hagwons” – special tutorial academies – often times past midnight, so they could hone their brains and make it to the elite universities.The government became concerned of the stress and the health risks such an overload would induce to the students. The Education Police rove about the city, making sure that hagwons comply with the 10pm curfew set by the government. They even knock on doors and get inside the hagwons to ensure that students aren’t overstaying. The South Korean education minister is promising a reform, making education an enriching and enjoyable experience, not an ordeal. Perhaps he should make a trip to Finland to investigate how its educational system, touted to be the best in the world, works effectively with less stress and less classroom time.
“Ever since Finland, a nation of about 5.5 million that does not start formal education until age 7 and scorns homework and testing until well into the teenage years, scored at the top of a well-respected international test in 2001 in math, science and reading, it has been an object of fascination among American educators and policy makers.”
Interestingly, the Finns, in their own unique style , did justice to the term “ less is more”. Kids start school at age 7 and finish high school at 16, spend 4 hours in school, remove their shoes inside the class and call their teachers by their first name. Finnish teachers are very well schooled and trained , considered consummate professionals, equal in esteem and income with doctors and lawyers. The Finns have shown how quality education can be achieved smartly – less cost to the government, less stress to the students and parents, more time for everyone to enjoy life. Obviously the model wouldn’t work in every country especially those whose education systems are mainly driven by private enterprise but if it is a benchmark of exellence it is worthwhile emulating, at least parts of it, if we are serious in making a difference to the future of our children.
PASSION FOR EXCELLENCE
Parents are obsessed with turning their children into potential Einsteins so that their kids can go to the best schools and attain the highest academic degree and last but not least, so they could brag about them 😉 It is not surprising therefore that brain enhancing products, and I’m not talking about drugs but revolutionary techniques in enhancing brain power and memory skills, proliferate the internet market these days. Want your kid to multiply 3 digit numbers in a jiffy ? With special brain enhancing techniques, it is doable – so they say. So your child turns into a whiz kid with a terrific memory – does that make him/her genuinely academically superior ? Or has he/she found an amazing operational short cut method that beats the traditional system? What I’m saying is, if you can multiply 385 by 604 in your brain within 5 seconds, you better make darn sure that you are also able to do it by long hand. Our passion for excellence may have precariously turned into passion for excellent grades – that’s the scary part.
This boy is only 9 years old. He’s Japanese and you’d be wondering if his parents will ask him to quit guitar playing, push him to the limit so he could make it to the elite school and land a job at Toyota, Sony or Mitsubishi Industries 🙂 Heck this little guy at 7 years played lead guitar for Ozzy Osbourne at a concert! This kid is plain freaking awesome. Look at the Oz carrying him on his shoulders while he’s belting off the riff to Crazy Train. His parents need not worry about employment for this kid. When he reaches 14, he’d be getting job offers for a lead guitarist like you won’t believe 😉