Alex and Chickpea Do Korea

Korean student stress saga

Yesterday, while my English Winter Camp students were busily scribbling away at their daily journal entries, I noticed that one of my brightest girls had a few white hairs poking out of her otherwise jet-black ‘do. When I asked her about it, she said “Stress, teacher.” She’s 13.

When I was 13, the only thing stressing me was that my parents wouldn’t let me wear JNCO jeans (for which I’m now and eternally grateful). Teenage life is a bit more taxing here in South Korea: it’s not unusual for my middle schoolers to spend anywhere from 10 to 16 hours a day at school, after school classes, private school classes and studying. And this is during their school vacation.

This subject deserves a detailed, man-on-the-ground post, which I’ll get to one of these days. But for now, check out Ask A Korean‘s polarizing thoughts on the subject here, here and here. Spoiler alert: He thinks American teenagers should stop whining and start studying as hard as their Korean counterparts. Discuss!

3 thoughts on “Korean student stress saga”

  1. Nick says:

    Yes, Korean kids study too hard and have no time to be children. I mean, in Britain children have plenty of free time especially as in many schools homework is no longer set. With half the afternoon free and all the evening, British kids are able to achieve the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe, the USA having a percentage globally, the highest rates of teenage STIs in Europe as well as exceeding in all manners of crime, violence and social disorder. And then 50 percent of British kids don’t even get an average grade in their own language. indeed, when it comes to education Britain is almost 3rd world. I’m actually ashamed to be British. Okay, I agree, Korean kids study way too much but Britain and the USA not only give them too much free time but too many rights. As a high school history teacher, I doubt I’ll ever teach in the UK again!

  2. chickpeainkorea says:

    I agree with you 100 percent, Nick: American students have it too easy. I say this only to validate my point, but as valedictorian of my high school, I rarely studied and spent more time with my friends than I did with my books. There’s something wrong with that. But I do think that there can be a happy medium between the US/European and Korean standards of education. I say this mostly because I would like to see my students become more independent, not because I think they should emulate the American education model. I agree that we place too much emphasis on student rights in the US. But some of my kids have never cooked a meal for themselves, don’t clean their own rooms, won’t get their first jobs until they graduate from college in their mid-20s, and might not learn to pay a bill by themselves until they move out of their parent’s house to get married. As someone who did grow up with those responsibilities, I think that a consensus should be reached between academic and adult-life responsibilities — with some free time in between.

  3. Norituka says:

    Oh, wow, I always thohgut it was spelled differently. I always figured they’d use a “p” instead of an “h.” Sorry, I still need to figure out how to use Korean on my keyboard.So I guess the obvious question now is when was the first time “fighting” was used in Korea?

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