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Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences, Who Gains More?

By Mi-Kyoung Roh (DG reporter), By Su-Min Lee (DG reporter)

In Korea, a high school offers two courses of education, liberal arts and natural sciences. Liberal Arts is an education course based on the studies of literature, history, culture and philosophy while Natural Sciences course offers studies on mathematics, physics, biology and geometry. The two totally different studies are offered to students with different interests and abilities.

 

However, as there are only a few countries that divide education courses into classes, the trial of the integration of these two tracks came up in conversation. Many people worry that Liberal Arts would get a blow from the integration of the two because of tougher course of education the students have to take. However, in one sense, this gives a great chance for the Liberal Arts group to take the upper hand. Let’s have a look.

 

Firstly, the integration of liberal arts and natural sciences foster outstanding individuals with convergence of knowledge. The integration enables students to overcome the borders of each study and let them encounter other interesting –sciences such as physics and geometry besides the liberal arts-focused education. Plus, since we are living in the 21st century that requires various sense of appreciation and insight, this integrated education can lead the students to a right direction of trend. The sensibility from liberal arts and rationality from natural sciences can be inculcated and this produces students with more potential.

 

Next, high-qualified education is offered to students of liberal arts course. At present, the two classes have different range of subjects they have to cover. The most significant ability difference can be seen on mathematics. If the split-structure comes to an end, the gap of abilities will soon disappear by the higher level of knowledge the students will get. Therefore, if these two studies get together, students are able to take higher standard education and fulfill their desire to learn more.

 

Lastly, students who used to take liberal arts course can have wider choice of career after the integration of the two studies. For example, the application to a medical school and engineering is mostly available for students who took Natural Arts courses. Moreover, even though there are open chances to apply for those college programs by cross-application, it is difficult for students in liberal arts group to get admissions to the schools. This is because medication and engineering requires the understanding of natural science courses. Students who had to give up their dreams to become a doctor or an engineer just because they are not so confident to apply to majors that are related to the natural sciences, have no need to worry when the two tracks are integrated. Through wider view and chances, students from liberal arts group are able to find what they really want.

 

In conclusion, the advance in students’ abilities, high standard of education and broader opportunities of choosing a career enables students of liberal arts courses to get a greater benefit from the integration of the two divided classes of education than students of natural sciences.

 

 

 

It is a common notion that after the integration of liberal arts and natural sciences in Korean high schools, most benefits would go for the students of the liberal arts. However, in broader perspectives, there are several positive effects for those of natural sciences, too.

 

The first advantage is comprehension. Language plays a huge role in studying science. Students of natural sciences have fewer language classes, Korean or foreign. In reality, a number of students have a difficulty understanding science not because of their lack of knowledge but because of their lack of linguistic ability. In order to have a full apprehension, students should know the exact definition of scientific terms and be able to explain their attained knowledge in their own words. All of these processes require linguistic competence. Moreover, a huge part of important scientific researches is conducted in countries not using Korean. So, being fluent in Korean as well as in foreign languages such as English or French surely helps students of natural sciences for their own awareness of renowned research. With the assistance of various languages, students would be able to absorb scientific accomplishments with ease.

 

Secondly, students will be equipped with writing abilities. Unification of liberal arts and natural sciences might actually solve the problem that Koreans are not recognized properly for their superb academic excellence. Even though Korea is famous for scholars and students who rank top in math and science, nobody has won the Nobel prize yet. This strange phenomenon is believed to happen mainly because of the linguistic disadvantage which Koreans have. Surely, many Korean scientists are producing edge-cutting and innovative scientific results. However, most of the researchers do not have enough language skills to explain and translate their achievements for other countries’ scientists and foundations. Most prize-related foundations use English as their main language and are only able to examine the researches written in English. Consequently, what has been a high quality work in Korean turns into a lower level work due to the linguistic limits. Acquiring more time for languages at school would make students of natural sciences reveal their true value by improving their linguistic ability in both speaking and writing. They could write essays or reports which fully explain the importance of their works and speak in seminars or debate with other scientists to advance their own work.

 

Lastly, students will develop the capacity for open-ended inquiry cultivated by the liberal arts. Integration would contribute to improved quality of natural sciences’ students. In modern days, the true meaning of a talented person became not a person with high examination scores or IQs but a person with integrated cognitive capacity. This capacity can be built based on deep and extensive areas of different knowledge being blended. The best realistic example is Steve Jobs. He put lots of efforts in learning calligraphy, Zen Buddhism, and Hinduism. The art of beautiful writing and enlightenment through meditation taught him to pay close attention to the tiniest of details, as it was those very details that made one’s creation something valuable. He connected all the knowledge he absorbed and created Apple series such as iPhone, iPad, and iPod by putting together subjects which seem unrelated. What could merely be a machine turned into art thanks to Jobs’ experience in caligraphy and zen. By attaining humanistic refinement, students of natural sciences would be able to integrate multiple perspectives and create a new world with their own hands.

 

 

By Mi-Kyoung Roh (DG reporter)
By Su-Min Lee (DG reporter)

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Strong Stride toward Excellence

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
DG editor-in-chief

 

The Humanities Matter

 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
Principal, DGHS