Saturday, June 2, 2012
Educating the Whole Person
Catholic Schools in Korea face the dilemma of being unduly influenced by societal thinking as they try to incorporate more gospel values in their educational programs. The article in the Catholic Times deals with this serious issue.
Government regulations, the article explains, takes away the freedom of the schools to decide what programs of study to provide, what students to accept, and what teachers to appoint. The government requires that private school imitate the public schools.
Another serious problem is the emphasis given to preparing for the college entrance examinations, in effect paralyzing any desire to work for the education of the whole person, success or failure of one's education being determined by grades and the chances of entering a first class college. This unnatural emphasis attempts to change the values of parents and society, with the relationship between the providers of education and those who seek it being weighed in favor of the consumer. Competition in society is the obstacle that makes educating the whole person difficult.
There have been some examples where schools have managed to control half of their courses and freely accept Catholic students. By having seminarian classes like a "seminary," they don't have to follow the school group system. There have been some famous cases were the schools have followed the education for the whole person and have done very well in the government exams for college. One Catholic school principal stresses there is no conflict between studies and growing as a human being.
The principal of Nonsan Daegeon High School was honored for developing a new education model, described as utilizing an approach to education that sought to balance the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a person, while also balancing study and service in the school. Surprisingly, the spiritual was at the center of the program. There was a great deal of opposition to the change but when 96 percent of the students went on to college, this brought a big change into the thinking of the community and the teachers. Many thought the whole effort was a waste of time and money. But for a small high school to achieve the results they did and not have to jettison their educational ideals made many take a second look at his balanced approach to educating the whole person.