Now I rarely speak on this topic because so many people have their own opinions about how education should be conducted. Even in this country there are a wide variety of opinions on how public schools should be run.
Sadly, most of the complaints come from the many westerners who come to this country for a year or two and think that the western way is the only way. More specifically, they think THEIR idea of the western way is the only correct way and their vocalization of their opinion creates far more problems for them than their sojourn here should.
What motivated me to write on this topic is the fact that I recently picked up the book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua. I had heard about the controversy and wanted to read her side of the story. Her way of educating is but one way and though many westerners do not like it, it achieved her goals.
Over the years here educating Korean students, God has taught me a lot. many lessons came through observing the actions and words of my Korean and western counterparts. One thing I learned is that most westerners tend to complain without considering the whole picture. They like t think they have the better way and that they are superior to their Korean co-workers,
It is not a good situation as the friction that attitude causes makes it difficult for everyone here not the few who complain unwisely. But here are some of the lessons have learned:
1. The System:
One of the major complaints by westerners is, the system here is broken. It is not doing the job that both parents and educators want done. well that is a misconception on the part of the complainers because they fail to realize that there is only one system to educating.
One person is the teacher and the others are the students. There is no other system to switch over to. This system is the only one we have. Sure people can dress the system in different clothes and call their ideas innovated but when you boil it all down, there is a person who places the student in a situation where they have to learn. That person is the teacher because he or she has an objective–to get the students educated by using some format they devised.
Now this is different from the system in that there are as many different methodologies available to educate as there are teachers in the world. A lot of people make the mistake of confusing methodology with ‘the system’.
The big mistake here is that when one person or a group of people see one successful methodology they think everyone has to follow it. So they force that one method upon very resistant teachers who have their own way of educating that works for them.
Outside of God’s way, there is no perfect methodology. One person’s way of educating is as good as another’s. The key for teachers is to find the best methodology for them and stick to it. If the methodology doesn’t fit the teacher then they will have a very hard time educating their students and their students will see this and respond accordingly–usually not in a good way.
If school’s want to educate they need to let teachers develop their own style of teaching, within reason, and let them relate to their students in their own way. This does not mean that tweaking of their methods is omitted. No, for all teachers can benefit from learning from their mistakes or wise counsel from more experienced teachers.
Two of the hardest points to get across to the many western teachers who come here are: 1. different students learn differently. Unfortunately, in a public school where class sizes tend to be large it is difficult to target different learning abilities. Sometimes the teacher has to make adjustments to their methodologies to reach the majority of students.
When I was doing a Master’s degree, I picked a school I thought would give me the best information in the best way possible in regards to my situation. The problem was their methodology did not fit my learning ability.
I asked if I could make a change and upon receiving their permission and their changes to my curriculum my grades went up remarkably. Now we may not be able to make such changes in the public school system, but we should not label a student as dumb, or slow based solely upon their test scores. Some students would demonstrate their intelligence if they were able to tailor their curriculum to meet their learning abilities.
We do not make wholesale changes because then all were are doing is shifting the same problem to different students.
A lot of people place the blame upon the principal because he is the man in charge of a school and the buck should stop there. Those who place this blame seldom see the whole picture.
Sure one set of parents may think that the whole educational field revolves around their children and make unrealistic demands of the principal and that is not fair. For example, if a school has about 1,000 students that means that there are approx. 1000 sets of parents who all think they know how education should be done in a public school.
The principal does not have an easy job in trying to please all these people. It is impossible. But what makes it worse is when the principal and his staff forget why they are in education in the first place and forget what character attributes they need to administer education on such a broad level.
I am in discussion with a man on this website
recording how many negative and absurd acts principals and their staff can do in a school year. We think our predictions for how many will take place over the course of the year will be far too conservative.
The decisions principals’ make will have a long-lasting effect on students and it is sad when schools get burdened with those men and women who are too weak to handle the responsibilities that come with running a school. There is far more to education than running a school like a prison and that is what many school shave turned into with the no tolerance, no excuses, lockdown everything when something goes wrong, ideologies.
If nothing else, principals need to set the tone for education in their schools. If they are not wise, knowledgeable, understanding, fair, just and so on then education deteriorates. The principal cannot be a man who follows the fads or trends but must be able to withstand the pressure and set his school on the right course and be of such good character that he will not let his school decline to the whims of culture or outside pressures.
In today’s world it is not easy to find such men.
Teachers should be examples to their students as they have the most contact with them than principals and administrators have. The thing with teaching and teachers is, you never stop teaching even when you leave the classroom for the day.
How one interacts with their students outside of the school will influence how their classes will run when they are in session. One of my former schools asked me to help them with getting their new teacher adjusted to Korea. The problem this teacher had was that once he left the classroom he refused to interact with any of the students, going to the point of ignoring them on the sidewalk in town even though they were 2 feet away from him.
He thought he was well liked by his students and told me so. I, after witnessing his many examples of ignoring students, investigated the claim and found out that the opposite was true. Not 1 student liked him. It was not easy telling him this news but he needed to learn something important.
Teaching doesn’t stop and a teacher’s example goes a long ways in education.
6. Placing Blame:
In this country, westerners who come here to teach love to place the blame on the system or country. They love to do it in a very general manner which often includes labeling innocent people and that is wrong.
Too often it is ‘the system’ that gets the blame and everyone wants to throw out the system when in reality, it is simply one person who is at fault. A lot of times, people target the symptoms and leave the source of the problems in place. They simply do not want to do the work to root out the real problem.
Other times, they take the easy route and throw money at the problem hoping to buy their way out of a difficult situation. Very few people want to roll up their sleeves any more and get involved so the problems never get fixed and a whole lot of people complain about how poor education is in a given country.
Then even less people want to admit to making mistakes and taking responsibility for them anymore. We are in a ‘pass the buck’ culture. Sometimes, those complaining are not satisfied with the ‘punishment fit the crime’ mentality. They want people to pay the ultimate price for offenses that require little discipline.
We are not in a culture that allows people to learn from their mistakes nor one that allows for second chances. The person making the mistake must be fired and barred from educating ever again and such penalties should be reserved for those crimes that warrant such discipline.
When placing the blame, the complainer really should follow Jesus’ advice first–remove the beam from one’s own eye in order to see clearly how to remove the splinter in the other person’s eye. This advice applies to education and all of its participants. if people practiced that maybe we would solve more educational problems than we are doing now.
One of the things I liked about the first owners of my first private institution here in this country was their efforts in finding the right teacher for the student that paid their fee. They were lucky to have multiple teachers on staff thus if a student didn’t like one teacher, instead of seeing him or her walk out the door, they shuffled the student to different classrooms in hopes of finding the right teacher-student fit.
They were very successful at doing this thus they had a very good reputation and we never hurt for students while they owned the institution. Being wise and knowing how to run a school works. Unfortunately, most complainers do not look at the whole picture , they only see what they want to see and cause trouble which only upsets the smooth operations of a school.
7. God’s Way:
many people scoff at believers for wanting to conduct education God’s way but the secularist has been in charge of education for a long time now and their way doesn’t seem work. Over the past few decades we have seen a sharp decline in education and a large rise in educational problems.
Maybe if the secular educators would humble themselves and let God back into education, they might see a difference. But what are some of God’s ways educators should use? Here is a brief list with annotated comments
A). If a person does a biblical study on the words education, teacher, study, and related words, they will see that God has a lot to say on the issue. We find in 1 Cor. 12: 27-28 the list that God has for his kingdom. In that list we read that teachers are #3 in rank and that ranking tells us that God places a lot of value on teaching.
He also places a lot of responsibility upon the teachers. Being number three means we should take teaching and teachers a lot more seriously than we do.
B). But the words in point A. aren’t the only words we need to look up to understand education correctly. Colossians 3 : 9 tells us: ” Do not lie to each other” and that admonition needs to be carried out by teachers towards their students. You do not lie to students.
We may need to find tactful, compassionate means to communicate certain news to students but never lie to them. Administrators, principals and teachers need to be honest at all times.
C). Then there are other instructions found in Paul’s books of Philippians, Ephesians and Galatians, among other books, on how a believer is to live their lives. Those instructions apply to all educators and their time in school. Education is not immune to biblical living.
D). 1 Corinthians 13 also applies. Love is a powerful tool in the classroom and the students will pick up on it and respond accordingly. One thing that love does is discipline. We do not remove punishment for bad deeds when we love someone.
Love does not remove the boundaries of right and wrong or morality from education but that administration of punishment should be fair, wise, just and honest. Love does not let students act as they please but sets firm rules to guide them in how to behave correctly.
E). God doesn’t follow fads, majority rule or wingnut ideology nor should educators. They should know what they want to teach, how they want to teach and where they want to lead the students even if that thinking goes against the grain or the mood of the school.
F). There is no law or biblical teaching that restricts parents from providing additional educational material to their children. Too often many parents leave educating up to the teachers then complain when their children do not perform as expected.
Well the parent is free to educate their children in the manner they see fit. God even said so in the verse, PARENTS raise your children… The parent is charged with educating their children and parents should not abdicate that authority to the government, schools or teachers.
If the parent thinks the school is not educating well enough then they should be strong and go get more educational materials for their children to study. Education starts with the parents, not the schools. Instead of ranting and raving about how the school fails, do something about it and take an interest in their child’s education. Education is in the realm of the parent.
G). Outside of God’s way, there is no one idea of what a childhood is. I have heard complaints about this for years. Westerners here say ‘these kids do not have a childhood’ and ‘I want my child to have a childhood.’
Unfortunately for them there is no real definition of what a childhood is. Parent sin one city or nation will have different ideas about how to raise their child and how their childhood will go. This means that if Korean parents want their children to go to school from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. then they are free and have the right to do so.
It is not wrong if it disagrees with another parent’s idea about childhood. It is only wrong if it disobeys God and his rules. God has given each parent the freedom and right to raise their children. He has also given them the free choice to follow his ways or not, one cannot force their ways upon another parent simply because they don’t like how someone else raises their children.
They do not have the authority to force their ways upon others nor do they have the right to use the government or courts to implement their ways over someone else’s. God has given instructions on how to raise a child and that is the way for people to follow.
These are some of God’s way. You will need to study the Bible on this issue to find out how God wants you to educate your children. Education is not easy nor is following God’s ways but it must be done so that the secular world can see the right way in action and so your children will grow up strong in God.
Everyone has an opinion on how to educate children, it is about time they let God have his say.