There is a country where there is no exam until around age 16. Furthermore, the school hours are shortest in the world and private education is rare. But students in this country study for themselves. Almost every student in this country likes studying.
Let's look at another country where the students study all day long. Students in that country go to school early in the morning and go to a private cramming school called 'hakwon' and come back home late in the night. Students in that country go on studying after that and don't go to sleep until all their homework is finished. Students are like studying machines in this country. Almost every student in this country hates to study.
In which country do you want to live? The former country is Finland and the latter is Korea. Surprisingly, the two countries that have totally different educational environments both placed in the highest level in the assessment performed by PISA (The Program for International Student Assessment). In spite of the similar outcome of the two countries in the assessment by PISA, there is a big difference between Korea and Finland. It is a matter of students’ feelings about studying. Students in Finland think that learning is interesting and challenging. They feel good and comfortable when they study. But most Korean students become sick and tired of studying after the school age.
We can find some special education philosophies in Finland. One of Finland's success factors is equality in education. All Finns are guaranteed equal access to education, regardless of age, sex, income, or place of residence. And Finland's teachers are given a lot of freedom in the classroom. They are free to choose textbooks, or to use none at all. We generally think that for effectiveness we have to take on a decrease in equality, but it is not true about the education in Finland. Additionally, in Finland, the students who study well and the students who don't all study together in one class or on one team. They teach and answer each other. Through this, both mature.
I think it is not reasonable to insist on completely accepting the system of Finland, because they also have problems on their own and the environments of Korea and Finland are different. You know the word "Um-Chin-A" (It means, “the son of my mom's friend”)? Um-Chin-A is just an object of envy and the feeling of inferiority. Um-Chin-A means nothing to us. It is just an ideal image that has no power in reality. So, I suggest we take the example of Finland, not as "Um-Chin-A" but as "Friend.” A friend has not only a strong point but also a weak point. A friend teaches us many things and makes us look back on ourselves and find more effective and reasonable ways in reality.
I want to be a teacher. I learned from Finland and I decided, "No one can be forgotten in my class.” Like Finland's example, students have a right to learn effectively and interestingly regardless of their level. I want to make my students happier when they study. Most students in Korea study and memorize too much and also forget too much. I think it is not effective. We need to choose and concentrate about our learning. I will not give up making my students happier when they study. That's what I learned from Finland as a teacher in the future.
Kim A-yeon, Senior, Dept. of Korean Education