Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Prize-winning economist/columnist Paul Krugman warns of American education in decline.

There will be a post forthcoming about the educational system in Korea, but the Korean will say this much for now: he moved from Korea to the U.S. at the age of 16 without knowing much English, and graduated second in class from his high school. It is extremely unlikely that the same outcome in the reverse direction would have been possible. The Korean's high school in Korea had a number of students who spent their youth abroad -- none of them escaped the bottom 10th percentile of the school.

To be sure, Korean educational system has a ton of flaws of its own. But as it stands now, it is vastly outperforming its American counterpart. As an American, the Korean worries.

41 comments:

  1. In other news U.S. universities dominate the top world rankings.

    Korea's highest is SNU at #47.

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  2. Yes -- American universities are the world's best. There is no doubt about that. The Korean is talking more about K-12 education.

    Also, there are reports that poor K-12 education is acting as a drag on American colleges. A few Cal State colleges had to add remedial reading classes because so many newly admitted students would lack basic reading skills.

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  3. The gap between Korean kids and American kids is apparent from kindergarten. How many Korean kids go home to caregivers with substance abuse problems that impair the ability to run a household or keep a job? How many Korean kids personally know someone who was shot? How many Korean kids have parents who are semi-literate in their native language? How many Korean kids arrive at school munching a Pop Tart or a McDonald's hash brown wedge?

    There is a chicken and egg relationship between US K-12 education and student demographics. NCLB has driven schools to focus limited resources on the lowest achievers, many of whom will probably drop out of school anyway. The students most in need of a highly skilled teacher are least likely to get one because teaching in schools with many at-risk students is extremely stressful. I recall reading recently that there was a high correlation between socioeconomic status and educational attainment in the US but not in Korea. No surprise. The lives of Korean children in households with incomes in the bottom 20% appear to be very different from their US counterparts.

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  4. sonagi,

    The Korean has no doubt that everything you said about comparing the bottom 20 percent of Korea and U.S. is completely true.

    But even at the Korean's high school in California, located in a middle-class town (pleasant, but not rich) and ranked top 100 among public high schools in the U.S., the competition was soft. No one ever studied with the intensity that was anywhere near the Korean's fellow students in his HS in Korea, except for a few who was madly driven by their (generally Asian American) parents.

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  5. Quoth The Korean:

    "No one ever studied with the intensity that was anywhere near the Korean's fellow students in his HS in Korea, except for a few who was madly driven by their (generally Asian American) parents."

    As far as I can tell, the problem is parents not valuing working hard in school and pressuring their children—hard—to do likewise, not the "creaky" education system. However, I don't have any grand sweeping policy prescriptions to force people to care about their children's education.

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  6. Just the fact that my 7 year olds (American age 5-6) students in Seoul can read in English is pretty disgusting since there are many kids that go into 1st grade in America never having opened a book in their life. My aunt teaches those kids in a low-income neighborhood. How did we ever become a world power values like this? I daresay if we continue at this rate China and other countries will quickly surpass us.

    The government keeps introducing new tests to "improve" the education system, but Korean, you are absolutely right. It's something that has to come from home, and parent's attitudes towards their children's education.

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  7. Parents are important, there are things that policies can address. The Korean's HS in Korea had 17-hour school day from Monday through Friday, and 6-hour school day on Saturday. There is one thing that the local governments in the U.S. can implement almost immediately. (Provided, of course, there is adequate funding -- which is a big if in the U.S. That is a complete disgrace.)

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  8. At our hagwon this summer we had a student who was at home for summer break from America. Last year, he had been told he was moving to America to attend school a week before he left. At the time, he knew next to no English, and in addition his parents didn't even move with him; he was sent to live with a friend of his mom's. This student failed every class except maybe math (7th grade), so he's repeating the grade this year. Also, his English hasn't noticeably improved. I just want to point out that not everyone has the relatively easy adjustment you had to American education.

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  9. As usual, The Korean is missing the point talking about general things like EDUCATION.
    The truth is that you have this blog because you are in the US or have a US education. If you were in Korea, things would be much different

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  10. HL,

    Absolutely -- and for the record, the Korean's adjustment to the American system was anything but easy. It was the hardest thing that he has ever done, including taking the New York state bar exam.

    Jose Maria, come again? There seems to be an interesting point, but it is not very clear.

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  11. "The Korean's HS in Korea had 17-hour school day from Monday through Friday, and 6-hour school day on Saturday. There is one thing that the local governments in the U.S. can implement almost immediately. (Provided, of course, there is adequate funding -- which is a big if in the U.S. That is a complete disgrace.)"

    Right now state dept. of ed. and local district budgets must close large deficits, so this isn't likely to happen soon. I am in favor of lengthening the school year and the school day although idea would be opposed not only by teachers but also by parents, especially those of high school students, who often work or participate in sports or other extracurricular activities. A longer school day and year should include not only more academics but also daily PE and more recess, for there is ample research showing that regular physical activity improves academic performance. For many US school children, the school playground or gym is the only safe space to run around. We also know that children who do not read at home are unlikely to reach and maintain grade level reading proficiency. In many homes, children do not read either because their parents do not encourage the habit or because the home environment is not conducive. A longer school day should include short periods of independent reading. Some kids cannot focus on a book and need an adult or another student to listen to them read aloud. As adiabatic noted, parental expectations are vastly different. Asian parents expect loads of homework. American parents complain if their kids have more than 30 minutes of homework a day. Moreover, many American parents can't or won't assist in homework completion. This is especially true for immigrants with low educational attainment.

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  12. In my mind, the Korean primary-secondary education system is characterized by the often-accompanying hagwon (학원) lessons or mandatory study hall (자습/자율학습) lessons that go on until 10pm-12am for a seeming majority of students. This may be great for some students but personally, I am glad to have grown up in the U.S. where I had the free time necessary to read The Economist every week, interesting economics books, interesting novels (outside of school classes), watch a ton of foreign/indie movies, play a lot of sports (both in and outside of school), teach myself how to use the Internet productively, and graduate from high school a year early in order to be an exchange student in Chile.

    I doubt that, with a forced 7am-11pm or 8am-12am school day (punctuated, of course, by frequent - and inefficient - napping and a lot of redundancy between 학원 and regular-school courses) I would have had the time or energy to do things that interested me as a curious self-starter. Also, I wouldn't have been able to spend nearly as much quality time with my family.

    Also, from inquiries I think that "good" American schools teach social-science subjects like world geography, world history, economics, and government much better than "good" Korean schools.

    Anyway a lot of my opinion is based on talks with friends from Seoul National Uni, Hanyang Uni, and Sogang Uni so it may show some bias. However I would say the advantage of this comparison is a good view of the "top" or at least high-quality domestic Korean students with a good American student (in my humble opinion :P).

    I also disagree with The Korean about adequate funding. Average spend/student in the U.S. is extremely high compared to Korea - even in "extremely poor" districts like Chicago or Washington, D.C. The money is often wasted, thrown down one of several sinkholes. More than a lack of money, I would blame entrenched teachers' unions and poor family environments for much of the lack of innovation and too-long summer vacations - though business lobbies also have something to do with this second factor - that characterize U.S. education for the lower class.

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  13. Sean, very interesting. A few rejoinders from the Korean.

    1. The Korean is a living proof that for true self-starters, 17-hour school day is not an imprisonment but liberation. Like you described, the Korean did not spend any less than 12 hours a day (except Sundays, vacations, etc.) studying for his entire life prior to college. But he still had plenty of time to read all the books he wanted to. The Korean would imagine that you would have done just fine under Korean system as well.

    2. BUT -- what about those students who are not self-starters? Isn't it better to beat the knowledge into them through long school days?

    3. Completely agree with your point that we should be comparing apples to apples (or decent students to decent students.) But the Korean would not count Korean college students' views too much. Because they went through such grueling process, they often do not appreciate the truly great parts of the system. They also tend to have an idealized view of American education system, where no student ever puts in any effort but somehow turn out to be a wonderfully creative student by magic.

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  14. Thanks for your response. I am definitely anticipating your post on Korea's education system. "Beating" knowledge into non-self-starters is definitely the way to make sure they have an adequate basic education (see the KIPP academies). However, I was "forced" - or rather, allowed to by my parents and school system - to essentially learn self-discipline and good study habits on my own, and applying these to the fields of my desire. I think "best practices" in these areas vary somewhat from person to person, and are directly connected to intrinsic motivation.

    As many studies have shown intrinsic motivation is correlated with both high achievement and enjoyment. When high school ends, both Koreans and Americans face a less structured environment where intrinsic motivation is a key to both outward success and inward life satisfaction. I am not sure that Americans on average are more intrinsically motivated, but I find many Koreans wishing they were more intrinsically motivated.

    That said, the fact is that the vast majority of Koreans (especially the younger generation) are employable at basic levels in the service industry or trainable for technical professions, while a large minority of Americans are basically unemployable (or can only be the equivalent of robots in the fast-food industry or post-office - and far inferior robots when compared with their Korean counterparts). I recognize this as a strength of the Korean education system and applaud this societal accomplishment.

    That said, I still think the American system offers better opportunities to certain types of students, especially when these students have a supportive family and like-minded friends.

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  15. The Korean students are better at passing tests, this is true. But there is a shocking lack of any sort of creative thinking amongst the Korean students that I teach. Ask them to do anything beyond rote learning or answering a question that has (gasp!) more than one right answer and it is futile. I'm more worried about Korean kids in the future than I am about American kids because there is such a lack of motivation from the Korean students and a lack of any knowledge outside facts that can be memorized. At least at my high school in America, we were told to learn the whys and hows of things instead of just focusing on the answer. From what I've seen in Korea, it's all about the answers.

    I also don't agree with the teaching methods employed in Korea as well. Too many wrong answers? Hit the student. Talking too much in class? Hit the student. Not doing homework? Hit the student. Numerous studies can show that this is terrible for the development of any child.

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  17. Someone called me an ass. Maybe he or she is right, but I did not insult The Korean.
    My point, missing, was that generalizations about the Korean culture or way of life miss a lot of things because The Korean, as he said, does not live or work here. In big topics like, say EDUCATION, the point is missing.
    1. There are three levels of education in Korea, the same than in America or Europe: primary, secondary and terciary.
    2. The primary education in Korea, like in the rest of the world, is base on training future citizens (country songs, symbols, basic values, etc.)
    3. The secondary education is about basic facts: names, dates, places and basic forms of research: in Korea and any other country.
    4. The terciary level is the most important because it creates culture. It is based on research.

    My point was the The Korean acquired that level in the US. In Korea he would have not done it. From the start to the end, to graduate is not a difficult task. It is always up to the individual, of course, but if the system is so permissive, chances are most people are not going to work hard.

    Greetings from Korea.

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  19. I doubt anyone needs to study more than 8 hours a day, five days a week.

    If someone spends more, it would be safe to assume he wastes a good chunk of his time; and also that his achievements are sub-optimal.

    Education is *not* like violence: if it doesn't work, adding more education won't solve it.

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  20. My high school valedictorian was this nerdy and shy chinese kid who immigrated to the US at the age of 16 as well. He didn't speak English well or much, but he aced the SAT, 1600 at the time, and went on to MIT. My high school was average and had its share of druggies, punks, thugs and violence.

    Obviously, he's more of the exception than the norm that Krugman warns us of in his column.

    I'm looking forward to hearing what The Korean has to say about education in Korea.

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  21. I had been meaning to ask about the Korean educational system for a while.

    I'm currently an apprentice teacher. Me and my cooperating teacher occasionally complain about the emphasis placed on a social life in high school.

    We also find ourselves getting behind in the curriculum due to the need to reteach topics that the students were expected to know. A sad realization we're coming to is that high school chemistry seems to be the first class where students are asked to think and apply skills from previous classes and use them in context. This is around their junior or senior year in high school sometimes. I was quite surprised that some students thought studying for 2 hours was a long time.

    It doesn't help that the American education system holds teachers accountable in the sense that our jobs are on the line if a class of students decides to not study, consequently flunks the state exams. Another thing I try to help is the fact that there are 22 different languages at our school (not offered, but languages that need to be accommodated)

    My program is currently trying to revolutionize the educational system by taking into account different learning styles and teaching approaches - which I appreciate, but I'm really wondering if there's something bigger being overlooked.

    I'll look forward to your post on the educational system.

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  22. quoth The Korean:

    "2. BUT -- what about those students who are not self-starters? Isn't it better to beat the knowledge into them through long school days?"

    No, because then they'll be bored silly and will be disruptive in class, and the teacher will have to spend an increasing amount of time on classroom management.

    Additionally, you can lecture to an intentional nonlearner all day, but that doesn't mean you can make him give a rat's — ahem, engage with the subject material, unless there's sufficient support at home.

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  23. I am requesting that The Korean perhaps can use information from this article for his analysis on the Korean education system.

    The Chosun Ilbo reports today that almost half of Korean students at Ivy league schools drop out. Maybe we can compare that with the dropout standard deviation for all ethnicities at top schools.

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  24. OMG...you know,my English teacher thaught me that:"if a dog comes in a classroom,and it is more interesting for the children,than the teacher,you have to send out the teacher" or something,and I'm always thinking on that,when I'm helping to some Asian friend learning Hungarian,or my 12 year old sister,and what kind of education I want for my future children.


    Because I think this one sentence covers,what an effective educational system is like.I'm not American though,and I have doubts about being less strict(compared to our educational system)is the best all the time,but Korean educational system is the very last I would wish to my future children.

    okay,so...those kids learning more,than they will work,when they grow-up.(not in Korea,though)they have bruises on their bodies,caused by teachers.and this is for what?I don't want to generalize,or hurt anybody,but in certain things,their knowledge is just under avarage,compared to Hungarian students.Of course,it is very relative,in some things they are pretty excellent compared to even top Hungarian students(math and classical music example)But they are spending so much time with learning,they must be much more...you know...So I can't imagine,what they are doing in those long study hours.But I don't think,Korean educational system,especially long school days are effective.

    Come on,there are so much movies about school life in the U.S.,like School of Rock,or the one with Antonio Banderas teaching ballroom dances...they have something to say.

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  25. Sean, generally agreed. Truly self-motivated students with a supportive family and friends have a higher ceiling in the U.S., not the least because they get to go to world's best colleges.

    Kyle,

    1. The Korean finds that "creative thinking" is one of the most overrated objectives in education. Vast majority of people end up in a job that requires no creative thinking at all.

    2. The Korean is also a huge fan of corporal punishment -- of course, to the extent it is used judiciously. It is an extremely effective motivator, and very quickly creates a better learning environment for those students who are there to learn.

    Jose Maria,

    To be sure, claiming that the Korean usually misses the point is pretty insulting. The Korean let it slide only because he developed a thick skin.

    That said, you may be right. The Korean never attended college in Korea, and it is impossible to predict the alternate universe of what may have happened if the Korean did.

    Cyrillic script,

    Take it from a person who studied at least 12 hours a day his whole life: your assumption is not safe.

    Adiabatic,

    That's when corporal punishment comes in.

    Fi,

    The Korean knows English is not your first language, but using the correct spacing would make your insight a LOT easier to read.

    That said, the Korean thinks American educational system, even when it is functioning like it is supposed to, makes children soft. It makes them afraid of extremely hard work. It makes them prone to giving up on things that they don't like. And when it's NOT functioning correctly, the downside is so much greater than the downside of when Korean educational system is not functioning properly.

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  26. What I said was: "As usual, The Korean is missing the point talking about general things like EDUCATION". It was not intended to mean that The Korean usually misses the point, so don't feel insulted; it was not my intention.
    Koreans are well trained from elementary to high school. As it has been said, are trained to score high in Korean made tests (in TOEFL or TOEIC -English- or DELE -Spanish- they perform poorly.) The reason, I believe, they are TRAINED to answer test questions, not to write or criticize an essay. Probably no one is at sixteen. The problem with the Korean education, I believe, is that the training almost stops at high school and it is not replaced by critical thinking.
    Summing up: it is possible that a sixteen year old Korean student perform greatly in near automatic tasks (math questions, for example, which requires simple processing and good memory), but he or she won't perform so greatly in other tasks needing more critical thought.
    This is, of course, my personal opinion. I hope no one feels insulted this time.

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  27. Sorry about the spacing,I will try to take much care of it.And I don't agree.My Korean friends are just as same afraid from hard work,and giving up on things,they don't like(e.g.learning English)as anybody else I know.Just they have much worse memories from school.I guess your thoughts on that somehow too idealistic.

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  28. Oh and creative thinking it's not something to use during work.You need it,when you form your opinion and take part in discussions.(Some thinks,that makes you a citizen,and that's how democracy evolve and survive.)None of us would be on this blog without it.As far as I know,it's rare to write a blog like this in example Korea.

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  29. Fi, seriously. Put a space after each period, comma, parentheses and the like.

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  30. Jose Maria,

    The Korean believes that you did not intend to insult. But what you wrote cannot be read as anything else -- watch out for it in the future.

    If the Korean understood correctly, your point is that the Korean would not have been writing like had he stayed in Korea, because Korean students don't learn how to write essays, etc. That is absolutely untrue -- the Korean was a vigorous writer throughout his childhood, and his 17-hour school day did not stop him from writing as much as he did.

    Fi,

    On the contrary, blogs like this are everywhere in Korea. See, for example, here, for a particularly well-written set of blogs. Doesn't that show that you can be plenty creative under Korean educational system?

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  31. This is the last comment I leave in this thread.
    To THE Korean:
    It was not insulting. Let's leave it there.
    I think that your perspective on EDUCATION (in capital letters) is misguided and misguiding.
    The shorcomings of American education do not correspond to the success of Korean test takers in world math competitions. Pointing at the problems of American education is not a fruitful debate or even a debate.
    Korea has a system that needs reform. America has another system that also needs reforms. So far, in absolute numbers (2 more last night in Economics), US is winning huge. If Korea had won a few more Nobel prices and a fewer high school math competitions we would not be talking about this now.
    And, with all my respects, Jose out!

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  32. Thank you.err.showing me a statistics would be much more convincing,though.

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  33. I have not experienced the US system so I cannot comment on it, but as for the Korean system, here are my thoughts. Because classes are generally atrociously boring, facts have to be beaten in the hard way. But here's the thing, at the end of the day, it isn't the facts that matter, it's the discipline. That's why Americans invent things and Koreans perfect them.
    I wish both systems would tone down the standardized testing and do a better job at teaching the students how to respect themselves and about relating with other people. I.e. maybe that blasting soju or hot dogs really isn't meant to be a competition, and that learning a few things about other people might prevent you from wanting to invade their country .. or your own country.

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  34. umm sorry about spacing, bad habit

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  35. What's educashun, and why is everyone talking about them?

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  36. While I do agree that K-12 in Korea is far more academically rigorous that the States, I don't think it produces a "smarter" individual by the time they graduate college.

    I had cousins in Korea that studied 16 hours a day in high school, and yet when they got into college all studying seemed to have stopped.

    I was, to put it politely, not a motivated high school student and got into college almost purely on my SAT scores. But I did study my ass off in college. I think what the US lacks in K-12 we more than make up in the university system.

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  37. I do agree with you that the worst-case outcome of the Korean educational system is much better than the worst-case outcome of the American educational system. The American system for K-8 ought to be much more like the ones in Asian countries- every student needs to overlearn basic skills.

    However, studying for 17 hours a day is excessive. Korean students don't study 90 hours a week to acquire useful knowledge; they do it to beat other students for a handful of highly-coveted university slots. In the US, if you want to go to Harvard, you DON'T study 17 hours a day- you do community service, play a sport or an instrument, and participate in clubs and community groups. I did get into Harvard (although I didn't go), and in high school I spent far more time per week on clubs, service, and instrument practice than on homework. (In fact, school and these activities together probably took up something like 80-90hours a week, same as you!) The fact that I had several 5s on AP tests and tested as one of the nation's best chemistry students almost certainly helped. But Harvard wouldn't have taken a second look at me if I only had the academics. If you want American high school students to study like you did, go take it up with Harvard and the Ivy League.

    Incidentally, those extracurricular activities probably helped my personal development along more than studying would have. In some respects, they were certainly more enlightening.

    By the way, does everybody in Korea study 17 hours a day? Do plumbers and electricians? There is a postdoc in my lab who is extremely talented. He's won several awards and fellowships; he is developing a stem cell technology that can potentially rejuvenate the brain and cure conditions like epilepsy and amblyopia. But he's 32 and making NIH minimum- $42K. That's after 4 years of undergrad, where he was making almost nothing; 4 years of grad school, where he was making $25-30K; and 6 years of a postdoc making around $40K. He is seeking professorship jobs, where he would make $60K. He loves the science but hates the fact that he can't support his family ($42K doesn't go far in San Francisco.) Financially, he would have been better off learning a trade straight out of high school! Everyone needs to know how to read, do math through algebra, and know basic facts about history, civics, and science. That all can be accomplished before high school. Everything else is gravy, and not necessarily the kind that's good for you.

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  38. No creative thinking is needed for a vast majority of jobs? I'm not talking about making art or writing poetry, creative thinking is simply finding better ways to solve problems. In every job, you solve problems. I can't think of a job that I've had where I haven't had to think creatively to solve a problem, especially when there is no right or wrong answer. The problem I find with working with outsourced workers in India or China is that in general, anytime I, or my company, tries to do anything non-standard, they literally can't do it. This is why, in general, the US and other "Western" countries are great at inventing things, then outsource the production work to countries where the citizens are really good at doing the same thing over and over. There's a reason why not a lot of, say, product development is sent to India.

    And corporal punishment is a terrible way to discipline anyone. There are plenty of ways to effectively motivate and discipline anyone. Corporal punishment is the lazy way to do it.

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  39. I am very familiar with the HS and neighborhood that The Korean went to and lived in. The Korean's neighborhood's median household income is $77k, so that's upper middle class.

    The Korean's HS is indeed soft and has no athletics to speak of... ;)

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  40. Let me belatedly respond to some points made both in the original entry and the comment section, albeit in a provisional and brief manner, given that the Korean has promised a fuller analysis in the near-future. I also apologize for being so disjointed in my response; I lack the time and energy to actually craft a coherent, comprehensive response. Finally, In the interest of full background disclosure: I would say that I present a similar background profile as the Korean, having immigrated in my teens.

    Sonagi said:

    "I recall reading recently that there was a high correlation between socioeconomic status and educational attainment in the US but not in Korea."

    This is accurate, and I would attribute the difference in no small part to cultural differences. Of course, I recognize that "culture" is almost a dirty word when it is used to explain social phenomena, because it lacks the precision of the quasi-mathematical methods that the social sciences (and their devotees) prefer. Nonetheless, without resort to cultural factors such as Confucianism and its legacy of the literati rule and trans-generational understanding of the self, it becomes difficult to grasp the unusual, unique obsession with education in the Far East, as well as the length to which East Asian parents sacrifice themselves to ensure that their children obtain a good one. This is also why I am skeptical of the proposals to transplant Korea’s K-12 practices onto the U.S.

    Obviously culture is a big, controversial topic that I do not want to elaborate here, but let me at least present the disclaimer that I am not a cultural determinist the way some advocates of "Asian values" such as Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir may be. In the long-run, modernity may be the universal culture, and you are already seeing many cracked facets of the East Asian cultural edifice.

    Adiabatic said:

    "As far as I can tell, the problem is parents not valuing working hard in school and pressuring their children—hard—to do likewise, not the "creaky" education system. However, I don’t have any grand sweeping policy prescriptions to force people to care about their children's education....

    "Additionally, you can lecture to an intentional nonlearner all day, but that doesn't mean you can make him give a rat's—ahem, engage with the subject material, unless there's sufficient support at home."

    My view exactly, and again there are intractable social and cultural forces at work here that won't be resolved by merely adding more man-hours to the system.

    Sean said:

    "I also disagree with The Korean about adequate funding. Average spend/student in the U.S. is extremely high compared to Korea –even in "extremely poor" districts like Chicago or Washington, D.C."

    Yes, I recall reading Jonathan Kozol's Savage Inequalities as a high schooler upon a Leftist friends (who wanted to persuade me of the simplistic formula that more money means better education), and I found the supposedly horrid conditions described within that book no worse than what I found in Bang-bae elementary school (not exactly a poor part of Seoul) aeons ago in many cases. Its not the physical infrastructure that matters most, but the cultural environment. Besides, what puts Korean pre-college students on top is what they do (or are forced to do) outside the classroom, such as extra homework and supplementary private education.

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  41. *cut off as usual for being a verbose bore*

    The Korean wrote:

    "The Korean finds that "creative thinking" is one of the most overrated objectives in education. Vast majority of people end up in a job that requires no creative thinking at all....

    "The Korean is also a huge fan of corporal punishment—of course, to the extent it is used judiciously. It is an extremely effective motivator, and very quickly creates a better learning environment for those students who are there to learn."

    I agree wholeheartedly with both points. This is why I cringe at reflexive, America-oriented criticism of the rote memorization system that Korean K-12 school encourages. In particular, such a system was the only possible alternative when Korea was in the catch-up mode in its modernization drive under Park and Chun, where the emphasis ought to have been placed on creating a competent workforce, not sui generis innovators. So much of the criticism of the Korean education system has been missing the context—which, to paraphrase Burke, is king.

    I will decline to elaborate the corporal punishment point, except to assert that we need more of it rather than less!

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