U.S. Ed Deformers love to hold up South Korea as the epitome of a successful education system (along with Finland). One of the hallmarks of the South Korean system is obsessive hard work, long hours and "educational masochism." While the U.S. Ed Deformers see this as positive, the South Korean government has recently begun enforcing a 10 p.m. curfew on education coaching-schools (called hagwons) and started sending out teams to conduct nightly raids on hagwons that run past the curfew.
|American Hagwon? (Image from Flickr, by Dean+Barb)|
According to the Time article, the Korean government is so concerned about student’s addiction to studying that they are paying bounty hunters to turn in violators. At his 2008 inauguration, President Lee Myung-bak said, "One-size-fits-all, government-led uniform curriculums and an education system that is locked only onto the college-entrance examination are not acceptable." Some Korean politicians are even calling for reduced testing and increased emphasis on creativity.
The U.S. has been moving in the opposite direction, bee lining toward a one-size fits all, government-led uniform curriculum (Common Core Standards and NCLB exams). Reformers are calling for longer school hours and more studying, though slashed budgets are resulting in the opposite. U.S. students have been beating themselves up in the growing competition to get into the most elite universities, sometimes taking four or more AP classes at a time and spending thousands of dollars a year (like the Korean counterparts) on test prep classes and tutoring.