These days there has been a trend in which students attend extracurricular academies to heighten their intellect and to thoroughly preview the upcoming curriculum. In many cases going to Hagwons is time consuming procedures that may take more than 5hours. Heated disputes have occurred for decades concerning whether it is appropriate for such young children to start studying excessively in places other than school. (Hagwon is the Korean-language word for a for-profit private institute, academy or cram school prevalent in South Korea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagwon)
The advocates of Hagwons state this action improves the overall grades in the future and renders the development of advanced problem solving abilities in ordinary life as well by making the children face challenging questions. As the schools are designed to broadly encompass the capabilities of hundreds of kids, it will not be able to match the diverse capabilities and individual characteristics of the students. However, advocates believe that as Hagwons have fewer students compared to school, it can do a better job of matching the specific abilities such as focusing on the strong subjects of the students. Additionally, as the difficulty of the subjects skyrocket as students go into high school, it may almost seem inevitable for you not to take extra lessons to achieve better grades.
[A photo of children going to academies at a young age]
Whatever the case may be, that the extra education helps the students grade-wise, the opposition of Hagwons argues that in fact Hagwons actually harm the basic purpose of public education itself. Free education for all enforced for a purpose to allow the poor to have a decent chance to become educated and climb up the social ladder. However because of the emerging private institutes, the gap between the rich and poor is becoming more obvious as only the rich are able to pay the extravagant fees needed to obtain this higher level of education. As a result, the amount of knowledge will differ severely between the wealthy and the impoverished. Secondly, the opposition argues that these academies unnecessarily stress the students from a young age, barring them from the conventional carefree childhood that most kids in other countries enjoy. Parents, driven by the urge to provide the best to their children, will unfortunately have to lean on Hagwons to increase the skills of their children. That is because upward leveling will take place where everyone is going to Hagwons and it only feels right for you to do so as well.
Q: As you have worked as a teacher for such a long period, what is your opinion on private education?
|Interview of my Hagwon teacher who had the chance to teach students of
all age for more than 10 years (with permission)]
A: I believe in most cases these academies will have beneficial effects on your grades if you are eager to learn. However there may be some problems such as the loss of recreation time and excessive fees.
Q: So do you believe Hagwons should be banned?
A: Not quite so. I do feel sorry for the kids who can’t afford this sort of education. But I believe it does not matter that greatly, because if you have the will to study, being poor is not such a big obstacle. Also I believe it is the mother’s right to have autonomy over their children and give them the best education they can afford. Anyway this is just my opinion. ■
To conclude, the notion of students attending Hagwons has been debated and still are. But there seems not to be a clear answer being made. In my point of view, however harmful the Hagwons may be to the students, the usage of Hagwons is totally up to the choices of the parents and their thoughts should also be considered. Also the exclusive benefits of Hagwons are too significant to be ignored. For those reasons Hagwons are necessary for our lives.
Yeouksam Middle School
Andrew Sung firstname.lastname@example.org
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