By Soo-Yeon Kim (DG reporter)
So far, the high school education system in Korea has been divided into liberal arts and natural science tracks. However, last August, the Ministry of Education announced to merge them as of 2018. Though the new curriculum is established to produce students with both liberal arts knowledge and scientific thinking ability, it sparked the natural science students’ strong opposition. As they claim, should liberal arts and natural sciences be divided in high school? Or by extension, natural sciences and humanities are fundamentally different?
Actually, liberal arts and natural sciences are not completely separated studies ̶rather, they are linked closely, like an intricate web. More and more studies are done, between the boundaries of natural sciences and humanities. Evolutionary economics integrates traditional economic studies with Darwin's evolutionary theory. Science and technology studies have a research about the enhancement of science technologies by the view of humanities and social sciences while the network science goes over grounds of math, physics, and social theories. These are some examples of studies to cross borderline between natural sciences and humanities. As you can see, humanities and natural sciences share huge interface, but the tendency to divide them is prevailed in our society.
Edward O. Wilson, Harvard biologist professor, claims that we should break down the walls between natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences in his book Consilience. He believes that natural sciences and humanities would be the “two great branches of learning in the twenty-first century”, and “the social sciences will continue to split with in each of its disciplines, a process already rancorously begun, with one part folding into or becoming continuous with biology, the other fusing with the humanities.” Wilson also argues that the current education of scientists is too limited in narrow professional fields, making them to view the world wholly. Living in Korea, which has the culture to segregate people who had taken the natural science courses and the liberal arts, his claim to unite the natural sciences and humanities in university, seems quite persuasive. The Korean educational system pins down to students’ disposition between liberal arts or natural sciences, letting most of them to avoid diverse fields of studies after graduation.
Furthermore, zoologist and biologist professor Jae-Chun Choi of Ewha Womans University is renowned for criticizing Korea’s educational system dividing liberal arts and natural sciences courses, even referring it as the ‘Stone Age education’. He said that “Korea is the only country that divides the high school educational system into liberal arts and natural sciences tracks,” and for disciplinary convergence, “the barriers between natural sciences and the humanities should be eliminated” in high schools.
As Professor Choi asserts, the division of liberal arts and natural sciences in the Korean educational policy has problems. It makes students shun the other field of studies after graduation, and causes the limit of communication between people who have studied different areas. Korean teenagers must go out to society, without sufficient knowledge of diverse fields. The educational system segregating liberal arts and natural sciences courses is same as drawing borders around them to choose only half of the world.
It is a well-known fact that the Apple’s success is accomplished by not their techniques but also humanities. Whoever our society needs is the cultured person in both humanities and natural sciences as Steve Jobs. Professor Choi also said that “Korean students do not lack the intellectual ability compared to American students. The missing point is the ability to transcend disciplines.” To develop their internal ability and raise the stellar students with affluent knowledge, the trial to integrate liberal arts and natural sciences courses is essential.
Edward Wilson again: the only way to unite "the great branches of learning and end the culture wars," is to "view the boundary between the scientific and literary cultures not as a territorial line but as a broad and mostly unexplored terrain awaiting cooperative entry from both sides." By the merger of liberal arts and natural sciences courses, Korean students will be able to approach easily to the various filed of knowledge. Through extensive and intensive search for liberal arts and natural sciences fields at the same time, I expect them to be a global leader, getting far toward the world.
By Soo-Yeon Kim
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