Survey Results – Part 7: Korean Students Life Skills and Outlook

Korean Students – Life Skills & Outlook

The previous parts of this series can be found here: Part 1 – Dating & DownloadablesPart 2 – Lifestyle and PetsPart 3A – Teaching Resources (Hakwon vs Public School)Part 3B – Hakwon vs Public School Workplace SatisfactionPart 4 – Websites UsedPart 5 and Part 6 – Academic and Life.

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The last post dealt with the academic and social skills of Korean students as seen through the eyes of their teachers.  This post will look at the life skills and outlook of the Korean students according to their teachers.  Raw data can be found in post 1 of this series.  Response numbers were as follows: Question 32 – Overall 214, Elementary or Younger – 119, Middle School or Older – 82, Uni – 20, Public School – 111, Hakwon – 58.  Question 33 - Overall 217, Elementary or Younger – 121, Middle School or Older – 82, Uni – 31, Public School – 114, Hakwon – 58.

Life Skills

Turns out Native English Speaking Teachers (NESTs) have some really strong opinions about the critical thinking abilities of their students or their lack thereof.

NESTs in Korea rate the life skills of Korean students

On the whole the results in this section aren’t too encouraging about how Korea is preparing their children for the challenges that will await them in the future if the opinions of NESTs are to be taken seriously.  To be fair, I’ve spoken to Koreans who themselves feel similarly about how the Korean education system prepares its students for the future.  There seemed to be a trend in the numbers, too.  It seems that whilst all teachers felt their students lacked important life skills the teachers feel the lack becomes greater the older the students get.

Korea ESL - A comparison of the perceived life skills of Korean students by age.

One of my best friends here in Australia is Korean-Australian, he left Korea at the age of 12.  He felt that the Korean education system is designed to take a kid and remove that kid’s curiosity, critical thinking and creativity so they can become good citizens and good workers.

Here’s a look at the hakwon versus public school:

Korean student life skills - A comparison of public school vs hakwon students by their NESTs

It appears that public school teachers have a less flattering view of their students than hakwon teachers – with the exception of the last column which is more about the public school than the student.

All of the numbers above should be ringing alarm bells for the Korean education system and Korean society.  In this case the perception of outsiders is the one that counts most as Koreans themselves can’t have direct first hand experience of knowing how their behaviour looks from a western cultural perspective.

As it seems to be a huge priority for Korea to internationalise itself it follows that they care how they are perceived by outsiders.  You could argue that with the emergence of China and India as the future super-powers it’s less important what the west thinks of them than what China and India think although I’m not convinced those relationships are on any better ground.

Outlook of Students

Korea ESL - Attitude and outlook of Korean students according to their western teachers

Overall 38% of teachers said their students were open to outside cultures and there wasn’t much variation in this figure across school types or ages.

Korea ESL - Outlook of Korean students by age as seen by their native English speaking teachers

The passion for learning question interested me as the results appear to show that students peak in passion in secondary school before hitting an all-time low at university.  It seems like the direct opposite of what you would expect to see in the west where, in my opinion, kids seem to start out liking school before they hit puberty where their enthusiasm for academics tends to nose dive.  Once at university a lot of those same students find their passion reignited.  In the survey only 10% reckoned their students had a genuine passion for learning.

And just to be complete here’s a comparison of hakwon versus public school.

ESL Korea - Attitudes of students in hakwons versus public schools according to their western teachers

Next post we’ll look at what NESTs would most like to see changed in their working life in Korea.

Question of the Day: Do you think this sounds warning bells for Korea’s future?

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