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Rise of the Convergent

By Eun-Jee Kim (DG reporter)

South Korea has long been one of the few countries with a divided curriculum among affiliations. Our education prides our in-depth research focusing on two different fields of studies ̶ liberal arts and sciences. In this system, each student chooses autonomously which track they would like to take, and studies one field throughout their higher education (specifically starting from High School). This choice affects their career paths and life choices later on. The Korean Education board has always been confident on their theoretical foundation that all students have a compatible field of studies. Consequently students in Korea, ever since the Japanese colonial era, have been choosing their “competent” field ̶ whether it is studying intense mathematics as an Ee-gwa (Student of the Natural Sciences), or being a literary genius as a Moon-gwa (Student of Liberal Arts).

 

However, the development of education around the world has always been focused on integration ̶ whether it is between races, genders, or interrelated studies. And as the 21st century arose, Korea is now starting to realize the importance of communication between the natural sciences and liberal arts. Ever since, education that focuses on a wider range of studies instead of one particular field has been the core of all educational debate.

 

Since education in Korea has been divided explicitly (“natural science-based” students do not have obligation to take social studies, and “liberal arts-based” students are not mandated to take natural science and math) passive programs are in the need. Passive programs refer to education that does not divide student groups into two countering paths. The opposite term, active programs, may refer to teaching multiple subjects together, and creating a large cloud of mixed subjects. Active programs are mostly considered as the next step to passive programs, and tend to be less relevant to the status quo. Therefore, most people are referring to the passive program when discussing integrated studies in Korea. The major goal of integrated studies is to educate students who are capable of thinking logically with numbers as well and identifying with the characters in literature with a warm heart. This kind of education is called Convergence education, and it is the rising educational theory regarding the division and fusion of subjects.

 

The importance of such convergence education and convergence-oriented students can be seen through the individuals that businesses tend to favor. Many major corporations demand people who are capable of tasks that require multiple skills. Apple, the leading portable technology company, recently stated that the reason behind its success is due to being at the crossroad of technology and humanities. Jobs, the CEO of Apple, is famous for his quote “The only reason Apple was able to launch such revolutionary technology was because we didn’t focus merely on the technology, but on the understanding of people as well.” Not only this, Samsung recently made headlines by recruiting more than 1900 liberal-arts graduates as software expert trainees. Their rationale was based on the fact that quality mechanical innovation sprouts from a deeper understanding of humanity. Like this, major businesses are in need of people who have broader perspectives and a diversity of professions.

 

Following this worldwide trend, Korea has developed its own plan for a convergence-oriented education. In September 2014, the Korean National Board of Education devised a plan to make an integrated curriculum mandating all students to receive education that is both humanities-based and natural science-based. This program is set to start in 2018, and initiates changes in the entire foundation of education itself. Subjects that used to be divided into several specific fields, such as economics or Korean geography will be conflated into one subject, and all students will learn these integrated subjects. Science subjects are also targeted for the same changes. Also, the existing system where students could choose their examination subjects will change ̶ leaving all students to be evaluated based on the same field of studies.

 

Some educational experts are criticizing that these are unilateral changes that must be discussed thoroughly before being implemented into the system. Integrated learning is a big step, and may even change the roots of the education in Korea. However, we must not forget that although it is true that Korea has adhered to its divided curriculum for a long time, it is a blatant fact that nurturing new talents with both mechanical and humanities-based skills is inevitable. The students of the world must now be equipped with both intellects in order to successfully become leaders of their field. In order to keep in pace with the rapidly changing development of the world, we must now acknowledge the rise of the convergent.

 

 

By Eun-Jee Kim (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