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Learning From Korean Schools: Building Strong Children Ready to Face The Future

Written by Marcus Kotze
SIS Group of Schools, SIS Bona Vista

While many Koreans believe their national education institutions need reform, and Korea does not fare as consistently high on the PISA rankings as Singapore1, every school system has elements worth examining. Today we will look at elements of Korean schools that contribute to their high academic outcomes.

Use of Technology

South Korea is one of the world’s leaders in technological development and arguably one of the most “wired” nations on the planet. It’s no surprise then, that they are a world leader in “edutech”: education technology. While Korean firms manufacture some of the most advanced hardware for smart classrooms around the world like smartboards, virtual reality headsets and device managers, the South Korean government is now introducing AI-based personalised learning2. This type of innovation means Koreans are no stranger to new technology and Korean students are not intimidated by an increasingly tech-oriented 21st century.

Discipline

Civil morality is one of the bedrock elements of all South Korean schooling3 and this manifests itself in a tremendous (and required) respect for all mentors, especially teachers. Each class begins with students standing and bowing with a deep reverence implied and reinforced by the family unit at home. The result is students know where they stand and there is not as much disruption in the classroom due to unruly behaviour. Students in grade one and two take classes like “Good Life,” “Happy Life” and “Wise Life”  that reaffirm South Korean values emphasizing happiness and discipline. While discipline in Korean schools may seem harsh from a Western perspective, it is in large part due to the highly disciplined classroom environment that Korean students produce such high STEM outcomes. 

Future-Oriented Curriculum

According to the official South Korean Ministry of Education’s goal4 for their “7th Curriculum”, the goal is to “prepare students for the 21st century, the era of globalization and knowledge-based society, the Seventh Curriculum attempts to break away from the spoon-fed and short-sighted approach to education of the past towards a new approach in the classroom to produce human resources capable of facing new challenges.”

The 7th Curriculum defines the desired image of an educated person as follows:

  1. A person who seeks individuality as the basis for the growth of the whole personality
  2. A person who exhibits a capacity for fundamental creativity
  3. A person who pioneers a career path within the wide spectrum of culture
  4. A person who creates new value on the basis of understanding the national culture
  5. A person who contributes to the development of the community on the basis of democratic civil consciousness.

Korean schools produce young adults ready to compete in an increasingly challenging world.

At SIS Group of schools we also believe technology is an important tool for classrooms, discipline helps ensure safe and inclusive learning environments in a time of change and the above educational goals match our own mission: “To spark curiosity and inquiry while developing values and 21st century skills. We prioritise learners and personalise learning to make a better world.”

1 https://www.oecd.org/pisa/PISA-results_ENGLISH.png

2 http://english.etnews.com/20190906200002

3 https://borgenproject.org/8-facts-about-education-in-south-korea/

4 http://english.moe.go.kr/sub/info.do?m=020101&s=english