The Korean Education System and learning by Memorisation - 88

The Korean education system and the learning style of memorisation is something that often interested me. I actually thought that it is perhaps better than the Western style of using logic rather than memorisation. If you consider for example, that to achieve many things in business you have to memorise things i.e. remember how to do certain things, memorising can often be as important or even more important than using logic, all depending on what area of business one is involved in. In marketing and sales, logic and Local Seoul friendscreativity can be essential traits, but in technical matters it could be that training oneself to solve problems using the area of the brain linked to memorisation is better.

Being able to memorise, retain and use essential information quickly and efficiently may possibly actually make up for lack of creativity. By memorising you are learning systematic approaches and many things in life are a combination of systematic and creative logic. Korea creates some of the best programmers and technically minded people in the world, thus a system based on memorisation has served Korea well enough to date.

An alternative view might perhaps be though, that Koreans work so many hours and so hard, that this is what has driven a lot of the technological developments in Korea. I am not sure that the system of teaching by memorisation should not be the main form of learning, but some form of logically learning must be of benefit as well. It was this extreme focus on learning that many of my students felt, is letting down the Korean education system.

In many countries, including in the U.S. and in the U.K., there are issues with education, just the same as in Korea. In U.K., the problems with the education system and falling standards are always one of the main issues, along with the problems with the health service. They have been and will continue to be the two big issues in the U.K. every time there is an election. America has a very poor record with regards to literacy rates and college dropouts and the standards are not particularly high in the U.S. if considering all universities. The U.S. has many of the top universities in the world but these elite universities i.e. the ‘Ivy League’ universities, do not reflect the overall level of education in the U.S. Similar to Korea, a very large percentage of school leavers go on to university and almost all students who wish to attend university can. In the U.K. only high achieving students i.e. the top 20% of school leavers tend to move on to university. In the UK many school leavers choose to join a company or go into training.

The concern that was stated by many of my Korean students was that the Korean Universities seem to rate quite low on World University tables. In one recent survey for example, ‘Seoul National University’ came joint 153rd in the world. Harvard (U.S.), Stanford(U.S.) and then Cambridge (U.K.) listed in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. These survey results are similar to many other surveys, with Korean universities failing to get into the top one hundred in the world.

Notes: Survey by Institute of HE Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

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