Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 14, 2010 / 6 Tishrei, 5771

South Korean Education System Is a Wonder, But It Wouldn't Work Here

By Mitch Albom






http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | SEOUL -- "If they can do that in South Korea, we can do it right here in the United States of America."

President Barack Obama said that last year. He was talking about school. He was talking about hours. He was talking about how hard South Korean kids work, how long they study, how much time they put in -- more than a month longer per school year than their American counterparts.

I am writing this from South Korea, where I have spent a week, much of it speaking to high school kids. And I can tell President Obama, pretty confidently, that we can't do what they're doing here.

Because we don't believe in it.

South Koreans treat school like a full-time job plus a full-time marriage. They put in day hours and night hours, followed by weekend hours. It is not uncommon to see children in school uniforms walking home late at night. It is not uncommon to see them studying through weekends. There is private English education on top of the public education. Families split apart to improve a child's training. You hear stories about schooling that runs from sunrise past sunset, with breakfast, lunch and dinner being served in the building.

What you don't hear is cheerleading squads. What you don't hear is spring break trips to Cancun. What you don't hear is classes to boost self-esteem, to celebrate an ethnic group, to explore the arts. What you don't hear is "Glee" or "High School Musical" or other coolness-driven entertainment fantasies about high school fashion, sex, talent or jockdom.

How are our kids supposed to mimic these kids, when this place doesn't look anything like the American school system?

Which is funny, because most of the kids here want to be American.

BATTLING TO GET AHEAD IN LIFE
Not in the citizenship sense. They don't want to join our army. They want to be American in speaking English, in gaining wealth and status, in rising to the top. One of the questions I was asked by media here was, "What do our children have to do to become global leaders?" That's not a really common question in the U.S. -- not to a visiting novelist, anyhow.

There is an obsession with getting ahead here that begins with the classroom and permeates the adult workplace, where rigid hours and meager vacation days are the norm. The attitude here mimics one you heard among American immigrants in the early 20th Century: "If you don't do well in school, you won't get to college, if you don't get to college you won't get a god job, and if you don't get a good job, you'll be a loser."

There is no shame in that lecture here. It is not viewed as corny or cliched. It is part of the national pride, if not the national obsession.

How are American kids going to copy that? We're not disciplined enough, we're not hungry enough, and, most importantly, either parents don't say it enough, or if they do, kids ignore them.

That also doesn't happen here. Respect for elders is paramount in Korean society. There are actually different Korean words used to reflect a deference to age -- a much older person is addressed one way, a slightly older person another.

They don't make comedies here where the 10-year-old is the brilliant family member and Mom and Dad are bumbling knuckleheads -- and divorced. The family dynamic is different. And as most educators will tell you, family is where future school performance begins.

STRUGGLING TO FIND MEANING
Which, by the way, doesn't mean Korean kids are happier. It may be quite the opposite. Everywhere I went, I encountered teenagers in love with my book "Tuesdays With Morrie," because the teacher in it showed compassion and encouraged humanity, not just grades. Many kids told me, "I wish in my life I would meet a Morrie."

Many older kids wondered how you find meaning in your life if you are -- as they are taught -- schooling and working almost every spare hour.

And studies show that while Korean kids do amazingly well in certain standardized tests, those who come to America for college often drop out, unaccustomed to the approach we take.

All of which suggests that Obama was a bit naive to think an extra month in school is going to put our kids on par with the high-scoring South Koreans. Their success runs much deeper than that. Their issues do, too.

Our kids laugh more, play more sports, express themselves more openly. The kids here are serious beyond compare, and they are driven to succeed. I'm not sure which system I'd prefer, but I know they are apples and oranges, and the length of a school year is only a tiny difference. It may take a village to raise a child. But it takes a country to educate one.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.



Comment on Mitch's column by clicking here.



Mitch's Archives


© 2009, THE DETROIT FREE PRESS DISTRIBUTED BY TMS, INC.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles