“All the crops I've grown in the school have dried up!”
There are many different kinds of schools such as International schools, regular Korean schools, and alternative schools, which have their own way of conducting online education due to Covid-19. Without any option, students nowadays are forced to take online classes because of Coronavirus, by using the application or online websites such as zoom.us, Google Meet, etc. Under the special circumstance, Waldorf School, an alternative school in South Korea, is in more trouble than other schools because of their unique way of teaching.
|[Photo of Waldorf Donglim Jayoo School.
Photo Credit: Minseok Kang (Donglim school student)]
Waldorf School is based on the educational philosophy of Dr. Rudolf Stiner- a founder of Anthroposophy. In Waldorf schools, there is only one class for each grade, and students never use technology like TV, computer, and cell phone to stay calm and healthy. The schools are surrounded by mountains so that every student can go out and play during recess times. In grades 3 and 4, the whole class engages in farming together to be close to nature.
No one has their own computers because the policy regulates students using electrical devices both at school and at home. Therefore, they can’t do online learning despite COVID 19. That means students can’t learn and do anything if the school is closed. As a compromise, Waldorf students go to school two times a week and study for two hours. Especially grade 7 students are working on important projects- they had to choose one thing they are learning or learned such as new animals from other countries and work on them. At the end of the year, they have to present them in front of the school students, parents, and guests. Because of that, they had no choice but to go to school.
According to the interview with Donglim Waldorf School’s 7th-grade student Jaeun Jung, all grades are divided into two teams and go to school on different days. For example, if team one goes to school on Mondays and Wednesdays, team two goes to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students do almost all of their homework at home and get advice and help from the teachers when they go to school. Moreover, the classrooms are all closed and blocked by the teachers. Thus, every student has to work outside or are separated into different buildings. In the interview, Jaeun Jung said that Waldorf teachers and students prefer going to school to do online learning because it doesn’t fit Waldorf school’s learning style. For example, they do the math class using the objects in one place, but they can’t do that in online learning.
|[Interviewing Teacher Ms. Holmes / Screenshot by me]|
As the students are having a hard time, the teachers are also having a hard time and have difficult tasks. Ms. Holmes, the English teacher of Branksome Hall Asia told that there are many teachers from foreign countries in Branksome Hall Asia, and they often call their families online as they can't visit them during the coronavirus pandemic. Second, audio and screen errors happen because too many students are using one website/application. It makes the class time shorter and interferes with students' focus on their work. Starting at screens also make students and teachers’ eyes tired that everyone concentrates less than when they are at school. Then, the working speed of the students and the teacher slows down and becomes inefficient.
However, there are positive things about online learning; everyone is trying to find a better solution, and teachers/students can feel the support for each other as a community during very hard time. Students do the online class for around 7 hours. It makes students and teachers feel very tired, so teachers recommended us to read books, have some time to sleep, or do the things that we like after online learning.
When the online learning first started, Branksome Hall Asia, Korean International School, and Saint Johnsbury Academy did the online class for 1-2 hours a day and assigned homework. As a result, students had to do homework until dawn. However, the policy is changed so students do online learning for 7 hours a day like we are learning in the school.
Waldorf school is keeping its education style whilst making a compromise to Covid 19, and I think it was a very good solution to divide the class and meet two times a week at school. The positive thing about the solution for Waldorf school is that they are not breaking the rule of “banning electrical devices usage”, and at the same time, students don’t have to sit down and watch the screen for 7 hours every day. For international and normal Korean schools, the students have to spend more than one-third of the daytime in front of the screens. Since their body and eyes become very tired, it would be beneficial to sleep for at least 1 hour after online learning.
It is hard to follow new guidance such as, wearing uncomfortable masks, and staying at home. However, there are many people who are trying hard to overcome this new pandemic. If students and teachers keep work together, we will go back to school soon.
Middle (7th Grade)
Branksome Hall Asia
Hayeon Shin firstname.lastname@example.org
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