The Change Process in Korean Education: A Philosophical Tug-of-War between the Old and the New

The Change Process in Korean Education: A Philosophical Tug-of-War between the Old and the New

Andrew D. Schenck (University of the Cumberlands, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch077


Confucian cultural traditions in South Korea have fueled a passion for education that has driven learners to excel in literacy and mathematics. At the same time, it has led to extreme competition that may not be economically viable long term. Cultural norms emphasizing conformity have also prevented widespread acceptance of creative learning styles and diverse opinions. Within this article, Korean educational issues are explored in relation to both past cultural traditions and contemporary trends. Analysis suggests that new hybrid models of leadership and education should be utilized to honor past traditions, while simultaneously cultivating the democratic skills needed in today's global society.
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Philosophical Foundations Of Korean Education

Confucianism has had a significant impact on Korean education since the implementation of high-stakes civil service examinations in the 14th century (So & Kang, 2014; Yi, 1985). Because government test scores served as the main determinant of social mobility, educational institutions became firmly ensconced within Korean cultural traditions. To this day, prevalent Confucian values control behavior of educational leaders, staff, and students. Five basic virtues are thought vital for both academic and social success.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Confucianism: A Chinese philosophy governing ethical behavior through five basic virtues: Ren, Yi, Li, Chih, and Shin ( Park & Chesla, 2007 ).

LI: Defines five social relationships: ruler and minister; father and son; husband and wife; older brother and younger brother; and friends ( Hadley, 1997 ; Ishibashi & Kottke, 2009 ).

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA): A triennial international survey of education systems representing more than 70 economies (“About PISA,” n.d.).

Chih: An individual’s ability to discern good and bad ( Park & Chesla, 2007 ).

Yi: A sense of righteousness that encourages group satisfaction, cohesion, and harmony ( Kim, 2013 ; Park & Chesla, 2007 ).

Shin: A sense of trust in others ( Park & Chesla, 2007 ).

Ren: Asserts that all members of society should be altruistic and benevolent ( Park & Chesla, 2007 ).

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