Buddhism teaching

Korea needs a diverse teaching workforce

Teaching as a profession occupies a special place in modern Korean history of rapid economic and social development. During the 1950s and 1960s, many elite young people from diverse backgrounds and talents joined the patriotic call to teach in public schools across the country. In the aftermath of the Korean War (1950-1953), which wreaked havoc on the economy and infrastructure, the Korean government used public school teachers as a human resource to rebuild the country’s education system and educate the emerging generation of post-war students. In short, Korean teachers have been instrumental in national development and progress through their service as Korea embarked on a journey of building a new education system amid the postcolonial education system and the impact persistence of the Korean War.

In transforming the country from impoverished in the 1970s to prosperous in the 2020s, the Korean government, whether liberal or conservative, has been enormously successful in manipulating the secondary and higher education systems.

The degree of government control went as far as regulating the governance, curriculum, and finances of academic institutions by capping student numbers, admissions policies, tuition fees, and contracts with faculty. Arguably, such government oversight has contributed to the development of an efficient education system, through which policy decisions can be implemented quickly. With proper policymaking, such a system can outperform other systems through higher productivity in a short period of time.

However, the disadvantages of top-down centralized approaches are that education stakeholders may not gain the real experience they need to resolve conflicts by usually turning to government to solve their problems; the system can also overlook big ideas for political reform. In the political calculus of the poor governance of our education system, a great reform idea easily becomes dead on the spot, especially when it carries political risk or becomes hostile to establishment interests.

The recent evolution of an education policy for the certification of secondary school teachers is a good example. Currently, there are three routes to certification in secondary education: (1) a person enters a college of education (teachers’ college) and completes the required courses with fieldwork; (2) an individual completes an alternative education program if an institution does not have a college of education; and (3) after college, a person can obtain certification through training programs at a college of education. However, the proposed policy has a pathway clause that secondary education endorsements for core subjects (Korean, English, math and science, etc.) are only available to those who graduate from teachers colleges. , eliminating the other two options.

Apparently, the main argument of the government is that it is facing a demographic cliff, whereby the country must reduce the number of teaching certificates in response to falling levels of schooling. For those who want to protect the interests of teacher colleges during this deep and widespread decline in enrollment, such a policy could be a blessing. In contrast, for someone who values ​​diversity in teacher education and supports equal access to teaching certification, the policy is a game-changer — for the worse.

Limiting the path to becoming a teacher only to colleges of teachers does not make sense for the following reasons, to name a few: First, we need teachers with diverse life and career experiences . Research indicates that career changers and those who obtained their teaching certificate from a graduate school of education or alternative programs outside of teachers’ colleges are at least as effective in teaching as their colleagues in colleges of teachers, and often more efficient.

In addition, employment data over the past three years shows that people who did not graduate from pedagogical institutes make up about one-third of newly hired teachers in the Seoul Capital Region. Second, the policy of exclusion from the “teacher college only” does not initiate reform so much as it reverses the direction of reform aimed at recasting teacher training in higher education systems to produce teachers High quality.

Since 1998, the government has invested heavily in establishing an accreditation system to improve the quality of teacher education programs in the country. The original idea was to “keep” high quality programs and end low quality programs so that teacher education programs would be held accountable for diversifying and improving the supply of teachers. However, the “teachers college only” exclusion policy has the potential to disrupt ongoing reform efforts, resulting in a massive waste of taxpayers’ money.

Third, the policy does little to promote interdisciplinary collaboration in teacher education. In the proposed draft policy, the preparation of teachers in core academic subjects will be the responsibility of teachers’ colleges, and all initial teacher training in elective subjects will be passed on to colleges of education. At first glance, the division of labor and responsibilities seems to be an administrative genius. But let’s be aware of the dangers of standing water! Our students benefit more from teachers who are experts not only in their content areas, but also with a comprehensive and interdisciplinary education.

Teaching as a profession in this country has come a long way: teachers have become the leaders of cities and they have embodied public confidence in the work of government. In this context, it is not surprising that very few have questioned the role of government in regulating teacher training and development.

On the other hand, the same government can harm teacher education and the teaching profession when bureaucratic and governmental elites indulge in petty tribalism while planning education nationally to selfishly protect their own interests.

Today and in the future, teachers in schools have to meet different kinds of pedagogical demands as the only adult in a classroom: a digital world is taking over, a flexible and productive mindset is the new intelligence, and self-regulation, courage, and emotional intelligence are the essential life skills our students need to thrive in the new world. That said, teachers face daily challenges with no clear path to educating digital native students, who will live and lead in a future world of artificial intelligences and robotics.

Furthermore, emerging paradigms for future generations relate to climate change, global sustainability, social equity, technological progress and risk – the list goes on. With uncertainty the only real certainty, it’s time for us as a nation to throw away everything but the kitchen sink to overhaul the education status quo.

This country still needs our teachers to step up and meet an incredible challenge in a changing educational landscape. A sign of hope in times of crisis is that Korea simply has too many qualified, talented and passionate professionals, and it is important not to exclude them from the possibility of becoming teachers.

Pathways to teaching certification should be available to all caring, passionate, and competent people, regardless of age, gender, class, affiliation, and disability status. Do our young men and women still believe in the romantic notion that teaching is a service to our country? When choosing to answer the call to teach, the exclusion path to teacher certification is the last thing future teaching candidates should have to worry about.

Lim Woong
Lim Woong is an associate professor at the Graduate School of Education at Yonsei University in Seoul. Lim can be contacted at [email protected] — Ed.

By Korea Herald ([email protected])