By Eun-Young Choi & Jung-Su Kno (DG reporters)
At what time should we go to school? Korea has recently been caught up in controversy, about whether students should go to school at 9 in the morning. Superintendent of Gyeonggi Educational Office Jae-joung Lee has pronounced the act of beginning school at 9 a.m., and the controversial policy has been in action since September. The fundamental reason behind this policy is that going to school at a later time (in most Korean schools, it is the norm for classes to begin at 8:30 a.m. and students to arrive at school at 8 a.m.) increases the sleeping time of students, who are notorious for getting the least sleep in the world. According to the Ministry of Education, the longer sleep duration a student has, the better their performance in school becomes. Sure, this sounds like a good idea, especially as Korean students are lacking in sleep. However, as this policy is spreading throughout the nation (with more than 90% of schools in Gyeonggi adopting this policy), the debate over it is becoming a very heated issue.
Proponents insist for the policy on grounds that ‘students can have a relaxed morning (38%)’, ‘students’ health and concentration will increase due to more sleeping time (31%)’, and ‘students can effectively utilize their increased morning time (10%).’ They also believe that by delaying the school attending time, traffic congestion will be solved and “Class 0” (a self-study session that begins earlier than the official classes), which is ineffective in their opinion, will be abolished. Finally, they assert that the disputes between the parents (especially those who work and therefore don’t have much time to spend with their children) and students will be relieved due to more time to have conversations. Byoung-Bu Baek, the Gyeonggi Educational Office researcher stated that “students who have enough sleep show better concentration and participation in classes.” More studies are planned on finding the correlation between the “9 a.m. school arrival” (or getting more sleep) and productivity of students, and he says that hopes are high.
Opponents strongly argue against the policy for the reasons of ‘the difficulty of the parents (38%)’, ‘students will fall into idleness’, and ‘the later “going home time” will result in problems (16%)’. Though Superintendent Jae-joung Lee gave some alternatives such as opening school libraries or designing programs for students who have to come to school early due to their parents’ jobs, many believe that these solutions will not be of much help and still think that the 9 a.m. policy would only put a strain on the parents. Besides, without parents to wake the students up, many parents are worried that students will put on a lazy attitude. Parents who don’t work also have problems of their own. The average high school classes end at 4:10 p.m., which means that students get to go home at 4:30 p.m. at least. With the 9 a.m. policy, many believe that classes will end later than usual, making many parents concerned about their child’s safety and effective use of afternoon time. However, Gyeonggi Educational Office officials have stated that by utilizing ‘block classes (combining two classes into one)’, the time when students go home will not be affected as much.
The pleasant scent of autumn has spread and the campus of Dongtan Global High School is enveloped in cool wisps of the fragrant harvest breezes of fall. Just as the nearby rice fields have grown into sturdy, golden stalks so too has our school matured and taken firm root in the city of Hwaseong.
With the school’s first commencement ceremony last winter, sending the graduates far and wide to make their mark in the world, already another group of seniors are about to take one of the biggest exams of their lives. My fellow students are eager to honor the name of the school, and the new recruits are more competent than ever. The campus has been blooming with special events, academic challenges, and new clubs and activities where students have been showing their persistence, creativity, and expertise. It seems DGHS is ever more fruitful with every year that passes.
In the third publication of the Dongtan Globe, we have taken strides to meet the rising standard of the school. The reporters and editors have tried to deliver the best of their work, striving to meet the high expectations. In consequence, we were able to present more extended and finer edition to you. And I, the third chief editor, will return the honor to the hard-working members of the the Dongtan Globe and contributors who willingly participated in the publication.
Previously, feature stories focused on topics associated with the annual Joint Academic Conference of Global High Schools. This year, however, we’ve taken a different approach and will be discussing the controversy regarding integration of the liberal arts and natural sciences tracks in South Korean high schools.
The topic is fairly recent as the Ministry of Education is starting to implement education of no border between natural sciences and liberal arts. There are many controversies whether the integration is necessary or not. In our feature, we cover various arguments and facts about the issue. Specifically, the feature discusses the issue first in the historical context and then through its progression of current decision to integrate the tracks. Within this discussion, the feature spotlights the concept of consilience of Edward O.Wilson which will help readers to understand the ideology behind the track integration argument.
In addition, we’ve included a wide range of articles covering other domestic and international issues such as Crimean crisis, school life including articles about an invited professor and a reporter, and even reviews of some recent music, book, and movie.
As usual, we thank you for your continued support and readership and hope that you enjoy this year’s edition of the Dongtan Globe.
By Jong-Seo Park
Korean high school education has been offering distinct curriculum tracks for the last several decades: liberal arts and natural sciences. As of 2018, however, those two separate tracks are supposed to be integrated into one comprehensive track. Debates are raging surrounding this issue. While advocates argue that the integrated curriculum be implemented in order to produce creative talents fitting the consilience spirit of the 21st century, opponents argue that it is premature to decide that now. Rather, they insist, all we need to do is strengthen basic skills under the current split curriculum.
I believe an integrated curriculum is eventually the right choice to make. This academic approach is already a mainstay of many developed countries such as the United States and most western European countries. The underlying philosophy behind their policy is that both quality of living and competitiveness can be enhanced only when scientists are armed with humanities refinements and entrepreneurs possess good knowledge of natural science.
I support this approach, and believe additionally that humanistic values are closely associated with cultural industries, and developing them in each individual will be beneficial to society. The general idea behind cultural industries is that popular culture produces cultural goods such as printed media, music, television, film, as well as crafts and design. They are knowledge-based and labor-intensive, and not only create employment and wealth, but also drive the norms of a particular society. Thus, in nurturing creativity, analysis and reflection, and fostering innovation, societies will maintain cultural diversity, enhance economic performance, and advance the sciences while also promoting sustainable, peaceful societal standards.
The essential point is that technology alone cannot lead itself to beneficial cultural industries. That is, we cannot produce a movie only with quality cameras, audio, and special effects. The storytelling is indeed crucial to the development of an entertaining and profitable film. In addition, a film that is only entertaining and profitable is also not necessarily a promotion of wholesome societal norms. The story must also celebrate, at least subtly, positive cultural goods to build enthusiasm for positive cultural attitudes such as cooperation and sustainability. Steve Jobs might be a genius, but he is not supposed to create iPhone all by himself. In the modern world, cooperation of the humanities and the sciences is integral to success. And being successful is not just about profitability, but about creating sustainable societies.
Thus, an individual who has built an upright character is one who is not only a master of formulas and rules, but also an engine of creativity and innovation, based on cultural norms which promote peace, cooperation, and sustainability. This is the reason why we study the humanities.
By SangYol Cheong