Korean High School Dropout Says “Schools Have Made Us Study Machines”
Local news source The Kyunghan Shinmun published an interesting piece on the Korean education system that follows a young girl who has recently dropped out of school and is doing a one-man demonstration, as well as traveling around the country, to bring attention and create discussion on the state of Korea’s education system. The piece goes likes this:
Just like student Kim Ye Seul who criticized the negative effects of university education and left the business management department at Korea University, Ms. Kim Da Eun has become a topic on social media for bringing up problems with the education system with her decision to leave her Jinju high school last April. About three months after her decision to leave school, Ms. Kim has packed her things. This isn’t a trip just for fun, but rather to ‘share thoughts’ with others.
On the first day of her trip, she visited an alternative school that she became familiar with through Facebook and learned about their education process. Ms. Kim is not making plans before hand to meet these people to “share thoughts” with, but moving day to day.
Ms. Kim wrote her letter with her decision to dropout of school on April 17, stating that “I’m leaving this school with its genuine lack of learning and only competition remaining.” Beginning on May 1 until July 12, she stood outside around 20 middle and high schools in Jinju, leading a one-person demonstration with a sign that said “I’m not a puppet so I’m cutting these strings,” as well as the reason for her dropping out.
She stated that “I hated this education system that ranks students and teaches by rote (memorization technique based on repetition). The school monitors even the private lives of students, interferes, and makes us into study machines” and “I could not continue in a school that told me to give up my personhood. Other students have the same mind, but I’m just acting on it.”
Ms. Kim continued by stating that “Adults have asked if quitting school is the best idea and have worried … for that reason I consulted a lot with my teacher. We tried to make a club for students who also felt it was a problem but it was hard to find friends to do it together. At one point I thought I would try an alternate high school but now rather than alternative schooling I am going to try to find a different way.”
Ms. Kim said that “For now my parents are understanding, but they hope that at one point I will get a GED and go to university.” About doing one-person demonstration outside of schools, she explained herself by saying that “I want to tell students who have similar thoughts as me [about education] that I have those thoughts too. I wanted to try to talk to students who also thought that the education system had problems and have time to talk about our concerns in our lives and in relation to school so I did the demonstration.”
She also stated “Even if it isn’t school there is a lot you can learn from other people. I don’t just want to study for a test but I want to know more about me and life.”
What are your thoughts on her decision and do you think you could make a similar decision? What do you think of your own country’s education system?