Dae-Ok Kwon (DGHS student) and Jong-Seo Park (DG editor-in-chief)
Life is full of chapters of tragedies and comedies. Modern people enlighten themselves in the sketches of joy in comedies and despairs in tragedies. They wipe out tears with laughter and wash away laughter with tears. This whole picture of the sketches is called ‘humanities.’ Since just a few years ago, trend of the humanities hit bookstores all of a sudden. Although in the midst of double-sided air of disregard in literature, history, and philosophy of universities, revival of the humanities had a great meaning sociologically. In the middle of that, there were ‘people.’ In the development of civilization, selfishness of individuals showed us man’s greed toward the world. Society without magnanimity brought disappearance of communication. People who were tired of logic of competence searched of the ‘people’ itself. It is about learning the past and preparing the future through stories about people’s lives. As a result, the humanities regained its spotlight in crisis.
Bacchaloreat, convergence of consilience and humanities
The humanities is a study of people. They contain footprints and thoughts of mankind. However, independent existence of the humanities cannot separate itself from imitation of the past. If the 20th century was the era of professional knowledge, 21st century is the era of consilience. The humanities is on the same line. Natural sciences can make the humanities shine brighter, and the humanities can blossom when it meets arts. Crossing between studies becomes freer. Various topics are newly suggested. The basis of consilience is communication. A society where anyone can advance an opinion freely and be respected is the society of consilience.
The nation which is in the head of the track is France. The essay questions of French college entrance qualification test, Bacchaloreat, is the place of blooming knowledge for all the citizens. From the president to the general majority, the topic is discussed enthusiastically. Bacchaloreat, which implements absolute evaluation, gives us quite a shock, us who are accustomed to finding exact answers of given questions.
Branches of Bacchaloreat are divided into literature, social sciences, and natural sciences. Here are the examples of questions.
Literature: Does science stop in discovering facts?
Social Sciences: Can we talk about something even when we don’t know exactly about it?
Natural Sciences: Do we realize who we are by working?
First, in literature test, Bacchaloreat asks the existence of science. This is not out of sense if you have noticed a great number of literary works of Bernard Werber are created upon imagination based on common scientific knowledge. Secondly, it involves philosophical theory in social sciences to apply in social reality. Lastly, the natural science branch of Bacchaloreat estimates the essence of existence with logical and philosophical approach. Simple literary imagination won’t be enough to solve the questions. Carrying only well-rounded information of current affairs will not be enough to solve the questions. Capability of having a command of perfectly logical thinking will not help much in the case either. It should be approached with literature, sociology, and logics based on philosophy altogether.
The reason for France being the country of philosophy and discussions is Bacchaloreat. And consilience. Natural non-subject-limited thought process bore the skepticism of existence by Camus, and became the creativity of Picasso. It became confidence of Stephane Hessel and Émile François Zola. Plus, it made a great many French citizens autonomous. ‘Tolérance,’ which covers various political ideologies from far left wing to far right wing and freedom of religion and race are also in the questions of Bacchaloreat. There are neither specific subjects nor framed answers. Only natural diversity of thoughts and logical approaches exist.
Where are the Korean humanities now?
Unlike the boom of the humanities in bookstores, reality of the humanities is cold. The humanities is picked as number one scapegoat in consolidation of majors. It is because of the cognition that humanities major doesn’t make its graduates earn much is strong. However, the statement that the humanities are incompetent study overlooks the hidden value of consilience within the humanities. Fragmentation of subjects in middle and high school education is the atrocious proof. World-only backward education system that separates natural sciences and liberal arts created a wall between social studies and natural sciences.
Korean education denies practical approach and only instills theories. Limitation of studies that are aimed for paper tests that measures how much students memorized shows the reality that doesn't even contain basics of studies, not to mention consilience. There are no humanities in our educational world any longer. They are dead studies. The reality that poses antipodes of studies made it impossible for consilience between studies to achieve synergy.
Eventually, we are trapped in the mold of framed studies while contradictorily showing off the highest academic achievement in the world. Stagnant growth of knowledge will come up as consequence of the dead study. Standardized education causes the general society to become inflexible. People become insensible to other people. Communication fades. Discussions recede and the public becomes ignorant. So ironically, they rather put emphasis on the humanities. But it is doubtful whether standardized humanities can work as a solution to problems of the society.
The utopia we dream of is where common sense prevails. Our current society lacks respect for different thoughts and comprehension of diversity. In the midst of it, there is absence of understanding the humanities. Younger generation is losing the true meaning of the humanities in the standardized education. Extension of studies through consilience is a distant path. Therefore, spirit of Bacchaloreat leaves a big implication to us. Background information needed to develop one’s logic is not achieved with just one professional area. Each opinion of each person shows the differences in thinking. Discussions to persuade each other are based on understanding. The question Bacchaloreat is proposing is the spirit of the era in our society.
Dae-Ok Kwon (DGHS student) and Jong-Seo Park (DG editor-in-chief)
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