Saturday, October 31, 2015

Alternative Education for the Whole Person

The education ministry and other interested groups in society acknowledge that with alternative methods of education, fewer would drop out of school. With this in mind, the Daegu Diocese had a seminar on alternative methods of education.

“The time in school should be happy; for many it is a time of unhappiness, we need to listen to the children." These were the words of one of the participants in the seminar, reported by the Catholic Times. The money spent on those in school and those not in school is vastly different. We need to show interest in those who do not  find a  place in our public school system. The seminar was working on the curriculum that an alternative system would find appropriate for the dropouts.
One of the participants compared the educational systems of Finland and Korea: rated first and second for achievement by the OECD. Both developed countries have methods at the two extremes. Finland does not distinguish between the first and the last, with a non-competitive approach to education, while Korea asks for answers to ordinary problems for competitive entrance exams.

One has to determine whether the school is making  students unable to adapt or are the students the ones not adapting. Students who are not able  to adapt to a strict regime, and want freedom need an  alternative type of education to keep them in school. In Korea in one year, over 50 thousand young people were not in school who should have been in school; many of them will end up as problem teenagers.

Conscious are educators that Korea is different from the past, large numbers of citizens and inhabitants have different cultural backgrounds. Often their facial features and color are different from the Korean students and consequently, meet up with  discrimination, and often ignored, a reason they give up on their studies. We know what it should be but facts show discrimination and drop outs. All students  have to be made to feel they are Korean.

We need an opening to these alternative forms of education, which do not see  students as losers and delinquents. The first full time alternative school was the Gandhi School  authorized by the Ministry of Education in 1997, but it never developed into a system of similar schools.

Alternative schools are not to complement the public schools but to keep the learner at the center with experience, and the student's humanity in mind: understanding the gifts each student has and to work to develop them, customized to the individual. We should be having happier students and persons who understand that education is not  only of the mind.

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