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Korea: Teachers who have been fired

Recently, some Korean teachers were fired because they were opposed to a new test that the government initiated, Ilje Gosa (one-type test, a nationwide scholastic achievement assessment). It is a test that all students take with the same questions and the same date, so that students can be compared across the country. Some of them welcome this test so that they or their children or students will acknowledge where they are in their studies. [EN] Others are opposed to it because it will lead to a society of seeking grades for grades’ sake and in the long term schools, students, and parents will be obsessed with scores and rankings [EN].

Regardless of hot arguments, the government carried out the test and some teachers were opposed to letting their students take the test. Instead of it, they had field trips with their students or some students refused to submit the test papers. Regarding the decision that the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education made to discharge those teachers (compared to the light punishments to teachers who sexually harassed their students and who cheated for their achievements), netizens are enthusiastically discussing this event.

Students who lose their teachers write:

[…]오늘…선생님과 이별했습니다,,그것도 이번 4교시 다가 아니고 1교시까지밖에 볼수없었죠, 선생님은 “평화가무엇이냐”라는 노래을 틀어주시고 학생 하나 하나 직접 앉고 할 말을 해주었어요,,,, 다 끝 마치고 헤어질 때 눈물을 흘리고 가시던 선생님의 뒷모습이 아직도 기억납니다[…]

[…]Today, I separated from my teacher. I was just able to see my teacher at the first session. My teacher let us listen to a song, “What is peace?” He (or she) had a conversation with each student. I still remember him (or her) showing tears and walking away.[…]

Parents are also expressing their concerns on the Internet.

일제고사에 대한 자율체험학습을 허용한 교사들을 파면했다는 얘기를 처음 듣고 솔직히 무슨 말인지 몰라 인터넷을 뒤적거려 일제고사가 무엇인지 얼마전에 처음 알았습니다. 그리곤 깨달았죠. 아…정권이 확실히 바뀌긴 바뀌었구나…

전 7살과 3살난 아들을 둔 아버지입니다. 내년이면 큰애가 초등학교를 들어가게 되지요. 그래서 부쩍 교육에 관심이 많아지기도 했습니다만 요즘 애들 어떻게 가르치는지 어떤 정책이 있는지…잘은 모릅니다.

내가 생각하는 교육은 예전과는 다른 어떤 차별화된 교육을 원하고 있었습니다.
단순히 우리 어릴적처럼 중간고사 기말고사등등을 보면서 등수를 나누고 수우미양가로 성적을 나누는…. 그런 방식에서 우리교육이 탈피했다고 알고 있었습니다.[…]

I didn’t know what ilje-gosa is when I heard the news that teachers who were against ilje-gosa and had field trips instead were dismissed at first. After surfing the Internet, I got to know about it and recognized what it was. Wow… we really have a different government now.

I am a father who has 7 year old and 3 year old boys. Next year, my first son will start his primary school. So I started being interested in education, but I didn’t know what policies education. Education that I think about now is different from the past. The education I had which had mid-term and final exams and grades were assigned by test scores… I thought that our education was beyond that system. […]

일제고사를 거부(사실 거부도 아닌것인데)하고 체험학습을 허용했다고해서 파면이란것 자체가 징계로써 지나치단 생각입니다. 상명하불복이란 그 체계가 성추행이나 촌지보다도 더 크단 것이지요? 왜 이런 얘기를 하는것인지는 다들 아실겁니다. 성추행,촌지등 비도덕적인 행위를 저지른 교사는 그대로 파면되는경우가 극히 드물죠? 또 다른곳에서 아니면 형식적인 징계만을 받고 다시 교육현장에 남아있습니다. 일제고사에 대한 대안학습을 시킨 교사들이 무슨 해악한 존재인가요? 그들이 잘못한 것이라곤 아이들을 서열과 순위로만 평가하려는 잘못된 정책에 양심적으로 판단한것뿐입니다. 거부하게끔 선동을 했습니까? 아님 시험을 방해했습니까???? 일제고사가 왜 필요한것이지요? 순위를 매기고 싶습니까? 서열두요? 정말 그렇게 애들을 키우고싶으신가요?

I think that discharging those teachers because they were opposed to Ilje Gosa and allowed outdoor programs is too much. Is what they did worse and more immoral than sexual harassment or bribes? You know what I am talking about. It is really rare to find that teachers who committed sexual harassment, received bribes, or had immoral behaviors are dismissed. Or they receive nominal punishment and stay in the educational field.

난 싫습니다. 분명 공부는 필요하고 성적도 중요합니다. 내가 어느위치에 어느정도인지 알아야하는것도 중요하죠…. 허나 그것이 초등학교때부터 시작된단것에 전 반대합니다. 하나같이 귀여운얼굴에 세상을 배울 준비를 하고 동심의 세계를 키워야할 초등생들이 자신들의 성적대로 스트레스를 받고 순위가 매겨지고 어떤아이들은 성적에 으스대고 어떤이는 성적표를 감추어야하는 그런 초등학교 교실이 좋다는 겁니까? 내년에 학교를 가는 큰아들 생각에 벌써 머리가 아픕니다. 공부는 자기 스스로 해야합니다. 더욱이 어릴때에는 더욱그렇습니다. 성적이 좋으면 좋은대로 나쁘면 나쁜대로 스트레스를 받는 서열지상주의 교육에 대해 반대합니다.[…]

I don't want it. I know that studying is essential and test scores are important. It is important to know where I am located in studying among my friends… However, I am opposed that it should start from elementary school. Do you want those young students with cute faces to be ready to know about this world and to improve themselves as children? Or do you want young children who are bragging about their test scores or who are busy hiding their test scores? I have headache whenever I think about my first son who will be the primary 1 next year. People should start study with their own motivation. Particularly, when they are young, this attitude is more important. I am opposed to meritocracy that is composed of test scores. Students who study well and bad are all stressed out in grade for grade’s sake.[…]

While some are not satisfied with unfair punishment to teachers, others are also talking about current teachers and schools.

[…] 성추행을 범한 교사에게는 어찌보면 가벼운 벌이라고 볼 수 있는 징계만을 내리고 일제고사를 거부한 교사에게는 해임이라는 벌을 내리는 것은 어찌보면 정부의 과한 벌이라는 생각이 듭니다.

그렇지만 전교조 교사들에게도 문제는 있다고 생각합니다. 일제고사를 반대하는 교사들… 의견은 누구나 가질 수 있고 누구나 자신의 의견을 주장할 수는 있다고 생각합니다. 그렇지만 교장의 허락도 받지 않은 가정 통신문을 가정에 보내고
선생님을 비롯한 어른들의 영향을 많이 받는 아이들에게 일방적으로 일제고사에 대해서 비판한 점은 선생님들께도 문제가 있는 건 아닌가 싶습니다. 우선 어찌되었든 나라에서 실시하는 것인데 이렇게 아이들에게 “얘들아 이건 안 좋은거야. 하지말자”라고 주장하는건.. 아이들에게 어떤 생각을 심어줄까요?
하기 싫은것, 안 해도 된다고 생각하는 것, 내가 판단했을때 옳지 않다고 생각하는건. 그게 어떠한 것이든간에 안 해도 되는거라는 생각이 들 수도 있습니다.

일제고사.. 어찌보면 아이들을 1번부터 줄세워서 판단하는 것임은 부정할 수 없습니다. 하지만 어느정도 필요는 하다고 생각합니다. 물론 시험 결과가 좋지 못한 학생들, 부모님들, 학교측에서는 달갑지 않은 소식이겠지만…지금의 교육 현황이 어떠한지.. 어느 지역이 상대적으로 부족한지.. 어떤 아이가 좀 더 집중적인 교육을 필요로 하는지도 중요하다고 생각합니다

[…] Teachers who sexually harassed their children had disciplinary punishment, but teachers who refused ilje-gosa were fired. What the government decided is not fair.

However, I also think that those teachers also have problems. I agree that anyone can have opinions and can vocalize. However, it was not a right behavior that those teachers sent a letter to parents without any permission from principals and criticized ilje-gosa to students who are influenced by adults including teachers. Anyway, the examination will be put in force by the government. But if those teachers just say “this is not good. Don’t do it,” how will the children think about it? They will think that if they don’t want, they don’t have to do it. If they think it is not right, they will not do whatever it is.

Ilje-gosa… it is hard to deny that it will be used to judge children by number. However, I think that that kind of measure is sometimes necessary. Of course it is not good news to students, parents, and schools which don’t have good test results. But it is necessary to know what our education situation is at present, which areas are behind, and who should get more focused education.

Not a few also have different thoughts.

지금은 정보화 시대이다. 일제 고사를 통하여 자신의 현재 수준을 알고 준비하는 것이 왜 나쁘지.. 내가 세상 속 어디에 있는지는 알고 자유를 누려야 하는 것 아닌가..[…]

This is an information-oriented society. Why is it so bad to acknowledge what your current level is through Ilje-Gosa? Isn’t it better to have freedom after you know where you belong? […]

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