The childhood race

Found this quote and thought the words are just beautiful.

Education or happiness?

I have just finished watching these two documentaries by the BBC. They follow the lives of three Welsh teenagers who go and live with a South Korean family for three days and follow their South Korean counterparts at their day at school.

I have to admit the South Korean education system shocked me. The amount of time these children/teenagers spend studying is mind – blowing. Yes, they do receive some of the best grades in the world and are undoubtedly highly academically intelligent but it is no surprise considering how much effort they put in to be the best they can possibly be.

Pupils sit in the same seat in the same classroom for around 10 hours a day. The style of teaching differs from that here in the UK as students are simply told how to do something, they memorise it and that’s that. There are no questions asked, no discussions in the classroom but rather silence and concentration. There is a real emphasis on getting good grades and going to the top university so much so that students often spend around 5 to 6 hours after school at private evening institutions for further academic tutoring or conduct their own self study. Students often wait to go into the library as it is so busy and children as young as 10 can be seen studying till around 10 in the evening.

Emphasis is placed on being the best rather than on being happy. Although academically South Korea do very well, they rank very low on the “are you happy?” scale. In the documentary a university student was asked about his high school experience. He stated how he had lost a few friends due to suicide due to the high levels of stress their families had put them under. South Korea has some of the highest suicide rates in the world, which seems like no surprise after hearing of their tiresome, long, strenuous days.

They have no time for social activities, no opportunities to be creative, no time to play or listen to music or to attend concerts and enjoy the arts because they study so much. There is often not much time for sleep either, with the headmaster claiming 6 hours was more than sufficient. I personally feel that if my brain was drilled of information for 16 hours a day i would like a little more than 6 hours sleep before cramming in more information the next day.

However, is it really all bad? culturally South Korea is very different to the UK and America. All families see the up most importance in education and do all they can to provide the best educations for their children. This may mean moving across the country in order to attend the best schools or working long hours to earn the money to send their child to the private tutor sessions after school. It is a social norm for families to not see each other due to long working hours yet, in the western world family time is viewed as almost more important than education.

Although some choose to pay to send their child the independent, private institutions in the UK and America. Most send their children to state schools. Yet, in South Korea it is uncommon for a child to not attend some form of private education. It s evident that South Korean parents want what is best for their children and they go to great extends for their children to achieve this.

Something I admired from the documentary was the respect teachers had in South Korea. There was a statue of a man who had said that the king and teachers are equal, something you would never hear in the western world. Instead teachers are paid low wages, are disrespected by students, often frowned upon by society and yet are under enormous amounts of pressure and work hard! It is a real honour to become a teacher in South Korea due to the high status and job security yet ambitions to become teachers in the UK are not quite to the same level.

It seems as though the South Korean education system does have its flaws yet times are changing. They are encouraging students to be more creative from a younger age and have introduced sport into schools. Following by the western example of allowing children to be more free. But, the South Koreans seem to have ambition that puts the rest of the world to shame. Perhaps this is something we need to drill into our children a little more.

The documentary can be found below:

 

When I grow up

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I am an avid musical theatre fan and love nothing more than a trip to see a musical. I know you shouldn’t have favourites but for the past 5 years Matilda the Musical has been my number 1. I have seen the show 4 times at the Cambridge theatre in London (soon to be 5) as well as the performance on the TV programme “Surprise, Surprise” and numerous times at West End Live. There’s a sort of magic in the show that I feel applies to all ages, the story is beautifully written by Roald Dahl and adapted well by Dennis Kelly but most of all the music has so much meaning behind it, something I feel many modern musicals lack nowadays. Each song is so pure and clever and expresses so much emotion. You will laugh and cry and no doubt you’ll want to go back and see it again!

One song I like in particular is entitled “When I grow Up” written by Tim Minchin.

Please find below a YouTube video of the song being performed:

The song highlights children’s desire to grow up and become adults. We constantly tell children that they are a “big girl” and that “you’re so grown up” which perhaps encourages children to grow up too fast. The song however shows what children think it means to be a grown up for example, being tall, smart, eating sweets whenever you want, going to bed late and being brave and strong. It’s interesting to see what children think adulthood is really like and how exciting the concept of growing up appears to them. Maybe we should take a step back and enjoy adulthood. Sometimes the stresses of everyday life take over and stop us from enjoying our freedom to do what we want, eat what we want and go to bed late every night. So, my advice to you is to remember that children have some great ideas so listen to them more and enjoy being an adult because when you were a child it’s all you ever dreamed of.

Lyrics to When I grow up:

When I grow up
I will be tall enough to reach the branches
that I need to reach to climb the trees
you get to climb when you’re grown up.

And when I grow up
I will be smart enough to answer all
the questions that you need to know
the answers to before you’re grown up.

And when I grow up
I will eat sweets every day
on the way to work and I
will go to bed late every night!

And I will wake up
when the sun comes up and I
will watch cartoons until my eyes go square

and I won’t care ’cause I’ll be all grown up!

When I grow up!

When I grow up, when I grow up
(When I grow up)
I will be strong enough to carry all
the heavy things you have to haul
around with you when you’re a grown-up!

And when I grow up, when I grow up
(When I grow up)
I will be brave enough to fight the creatures
that you have to fight beneath the bed
each night to be a grown-up!

And when I grow up
(When I grow up)
I will have treats every day.
And I’ll play with things that mum pretends
that mums don’t think are fun.

And I will wake up
when the sun comes up and I
will spend all day just lying in the sun
and I won’t burn ’cause I’ll be all grown-up!

When I grow up!

When I grow up. I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown-up.
(When I grow up)