Week 7 Discussion – High Quality Teacher Portrait and The success of South Korea

Hello Class! For this discussion you can choose which question you respond to.  Feel free to respond to both; however, only one is required. Please respond to ONE of the following questions:

Question A

What specific strategies, practices, and qualities would you choose as most important to exhibit as a high quality teacher in a standards-based classroom?

Question B

With a population of less than 50 million, South Korea consistently ranks among the top countries on international tests. What is its secret? South Korea has a national curriculum and very talented and motivated teachers. Students attend six years of elementary school, three years of middle school, and three years of high school. However, they spend more days in school than U.S. students. Eighth graders are in school 205 days per year, compared to 180 days in the United States.

The math curriculum in South Korea appears to have more depth than in many U.S. classrooms where the goal is to teach many topics. South Korean students are expected to master their lessons before beginning a new one. Textbooks are “less bloated and redundant than U.S. brands.”

South Koreans value teaching. Although potential teachers go through a rigorous screening process of exams and interviews, applicants for teaching positions outnumber the jobs available, particularly at the secondary level. The payoff for meeting high standards is a higher salary for both beginning and veteran teachers than is earned in the United States.

The curriculum and talented teachers are not the only reason South Korean students achieve at high levels. The country has an “enormous network of private tutoring and out-of-school academic services, which are in heavy demand.” Families may spend 10 percent of their incomes to ensure their children are enrolled in these services. More than half of South Korean students are tutored by nonschool teachers, compared to one-fourth of U.S. students. Many of these tutoring businesses are operated out of a home although educational businesses also provide services. The need for academic support outside of school may be leading to inequities in Korean society. Low-income families cannot always afford the outside services, often resulting in lower academic performance by their children, limiting their access to additional education and higher prestige jobs. The quality of these services also differs with students from higher income families because they usually have greater access to high-quality support systems.

Questions for Reflection

How would you characterize the major differences between the education of South Korean and U.S. students? How might these differences contribute to higher performance on international tests?

Why do you think South Korean families are willing to spend so much of their income to ensure that their children are academically competitive?       

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