Seoul education head’s plan to improve education during COVID-19 era
COVID-19 has been extraordinarily challenging for schools and students, and the disruption will likely persist beyond the rollout of vaccines.
In some countries where face-to-face teaching is suspended it is being rapidly replaced by digital online formats for remote learning.
The past year has illuminated what can be done with this online space to make it engaging, enriching, and accessible.
The sudden switch to online learning, with little warning or experience, has been difficult for many teachers and students and Korea, with the fastest internet connectivity in the world, is no exception.
For more about this, we invite Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education Superintendent Cho Hee-yeon and for our News In-depth tonight.Before the pandemic, the online learning environment existed predominantly as a virtual filing cabinet as a store of course materials, and not where any of the learning took place.
What are some practical suggestions that the education ministry is proposing to improve this predicament?
Are we in the stage where videos and interactive media could be incorporated into how students learn?

Despite improvements in online classrooms, preliminary research suggests time out of the classroom has generally led to learning losses with the most marginalized paying the heaviest price.
What is the city of Seoul doing to try to mitigate this disparity and how is regulating the number of participating students in in-person classrooms helping?

The longer schools remain closed or partially closed, the longer children are cut off from these critical elements of childhood and the stress and isolation of remote learning is contributing to mental health issues among young people.
How can we better address this?

Is there more that we can do to reassure parents sending their children to schools this year?

Despite some advances, right now schools continue to focus on traditional academic skills and rote learning to get into higher education rather than skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and adaptability which are harder to quantify and evaluate but inevitably more important for success in the future.
To address this, what will the future of learning look like to incorporate the latter?

Despite fierce opposition, you’ve called for the revocation of the special status for two international middle schools in this light.
Do you disagree with people trying to get into good schools despite their high tuition costs, is there something fundamentally wrong with this scheme?

Let me play devil’s advocate.
There are some saying removing these specialized schools would actually work against students from marginalized, low-income families.
In Korea, there’s the tendency that schools with high achievers are located in wealthy neighborhoods.
Thus with the elimination of specialized schools, with students admitted to schools depending on their residential location only it would kick away the social ladder from students who are from poor families but had the academic scores to get into good high schools and middle schools.

Recently, there’s been growing attention on celebrities and athletes in Korea that have been looked down upon due to allegations of bullying and violence as school students.
There’s also the rise of cyberbullying among young students that could be as detrimental.
How can we better address these issues to ensure a safe environment for our schoolchildren?
Will stricter punishment of these transgressions help quell such violence in schools?

Alright. That’s the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education Superintendent Cho Hee-yeon. Many thanks for your insights. We appreciate it.

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