Just like any other day, I woke up at 6 a.m., had my breakfast – which was my only meal at home – and headed to catch the crammed so called: “village bus.” I sat on my old wooden chair in the 1-13 classroom under the metal hand-me-down desk, waiting desperately for the lunch bell to ring. After lunch came my next hours of similar routines until it was time for the dinner bell, and had to wait two more hours until 9 p.m. for school to be over. Like I always did, I complained about going home after 9 p.m. and having no life, but my friends warned me I should feel satisfied to even go home at 9 p.m. because once you become a junior; the earliest I would go home would be no earlier than 1 a.m.
지금 잠을 자면 꿈을 꾸지만 지금 공부하면 꿈을 이룬다.
This is a Korean saying that says ‘if you sleep now you would dream dreams, but if you study now, you will make your dreams come true.’ Korean grownups often say that studying never hurts you; it’s only for your best. I respect my culture’s customs, but I believe in more than just studying. The Korean education system has gone too far from what our ancestors might have meant and it needs changes and refreshments.
An average Korean student starting from elementary spends at least 3/4 of their daily time studying. First grade students attend an average of 10 after school lessons such as Tae Kwon Do, art, English, flute, etc. Personally I took many lessons while living in Korea, including piano because they were considered a “must” for the Korean education system. My world consisted of nothing more than to study, study, and study
So through my elementary years, I was like a frog in a well – not knowing the deepness and the reality of life and the outer world – nothing me than just the vicious education in Korea.
Moving to Romania and attending an American Christian school has taught me that there is more meaning to life than just studying. I have learned that extra lessons are not a ‘must’; I can keep up with my school work and studying without staying in front of a wooden desk the whole day trying to memorize English vocabulary. Korean adults frequently tell Korean students living in Romania that they are studying in ‘heaven.’ I think when you are young; you should be studying in heaven.
I believe that there’s more to life than just studying almost 20 hours every day. I think students in Korea can still enjoy the freedom and relaxation that I experience in Romania. I would like to show students what I think is the correct form of education, rather than just trying to cram knowledge in. While I was back in Korea last summer, I found out that there are many places for students to hangout and have fun. I think students should have the freedom to spend their precious teenage youth, rather than just fixing their eyes on textbooks all the time. This is why I am praying that I will be able to be a teacher – an English teacher in Korea – and show my students that there are more ways to study and learn. I want to help them see the different path in education, education that gives freedom and relaxation to the mind, giving them a more enthusiastic passion for studying. I would like to show them that learning English isn’t just about knowing every detail in grammar and memorizing hundreds of vocabulary everyday. I want to teach in a way that involves leisure and amusement in learning English through conversation, reading, and listening – rather than the traditional method of rote memorization. I want to be a teacher that can lead them and direct them educationally and help them bring out the best of their youth.
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