Korea gives education a high priority and has great respect for what education is able to do for the country and the individual. It ranks high in the results that it achieves in primary and secondary school programs. A religious sister writing for Catholic Digest reminds us of the price that many pay for the emphasis on achievement in studies.
in high school she heard over and over again that her studies, no
matter how difficult and time consuming, would propel her
to the middle class. You only have to overcome the trials of the
present and your future is assured. Do you know what life is ahead of
you if you don't graduate from college? These words made her feel
miserable but made her pay attention to what was being said.
the same time she had all kinds of questions about her education. What
is the reason for school? What is learning and study all about? One of
her teachers made her feel lousy. He pointed to the janitor working
outside sweeping and told her if she doesn't study she will be doing
that kind of work. One of the students asked if the janitor was her
father and all the students began to laugh making her feel nausea and
wanting to leave.
Did she have to go along with what
was being demanded? Competition-- winning, was that what it was all about? She
felt alone, despondent, was there any way out of the maze? Feeling lost
while at home she saw a small book on St. Francis on the book shelf and
began to read and peace and freedom came. A person without
possessions was free... Without freedom we will not be happy. She
realized there was another road that could be traveled.
that she read all the books that she found in her house on the lives
of the Saints. She wanted the freedom that these Saints experienced. It
didn't make any difference what college she would attend.
longer was this of primary importance and she entered a college run by an order
of religious nuns.
For her it was the first time she was to meet
sisters who wore every day dress. At first seeing the nuns
dressed without the habits they seemed to be inelegant. They were not
like the sisters she knew from the parish and kindergarten she attended.
graduation she worked as a teacher for over two years with the community and ended up as
a member of that community of sisters. After finishing her course of
studies her first assignment was precisely to be a teacher at the high
school level. She was going back to the place where she felt so shackled
However, the school she taught was
much different from her own high school years. The teaching based on
Christian principles was based on dignity and respect for the students.
They were able to temper the hell of college entrance examinations and
with the families make the search for learning and humanity the spirit
of the school.
She taught at the school for 15 years
and was regarded as a good teacher by the talk in the school community.
But was that the reality? Were the thoughts that she had during her own
years of schooling still the reality?
Two years ago she was faced with a
great challenge. Her job was not to cram into the minds of the children
what she deemed necessary but to foster students'
thinking. They were to define what was necessary and she was to help them achieve their goal and to keep students as the subject of the learning.
was an import from Europe and required a big change in the way she
approached her students. What she considered the proper educational
method was a lie and a barrier in helping students to grow as human beings.
She learned something new about learning. She was learning something that answered the questions she had as a student. She liberated
herself and the students.