Well, I've been back in the UK since late last Wednesday, the 5th. All in all it was a very satisfying trip, with lots to take in and think about. I would have liked to have stayed a few weeks longer, so probably I left South Korea at the right time!
We walked around the grounds and Chris pointed out to me the golf driving range in the corner of the playground. In the far distance we could see a large area for the children to plant vegetable and flower gardens.
|Driving range target. Golf balls are caught in the net!|
|The school's garden has both vegetables and flowers...|
As we went to venture toward the rear of the school we met the principal, a very welcoming woman. The state run school is a very special place with no more than 10 to 12 students in a class. The principal asked if we would like to visit the boys' classes and, of course, we said 'yes'!
In a few days time, the children were to have an open house and they had been rehearsing a program to present to parents and visitors. Because I would not be able to attend the children in Louis' class gave us a preview! Louis is the child in front on the far right.
Unfortunately, South Korea has many problems after the children attend primary school. It leads the world in the adolescent suicide rate -- many if not most children attend school from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. and then attend another school for private lessons, not getting home until 10.00 or 11.00 p.m. My son teaches in one of those schools which specializes in English.
Teachers in Korea do not stay with any school more than two years. After that time they will be assigned to another school -- by the education department. While I can see the disadvantage to the individual teachers and also the headmasters/mistresses or principals -- it does seem a way of ensuring that the quality of education throughout the country is equalized. Somehow, it seems entirely unlikely that this is a policy that would or could be adopted in the West!