Homeschooling my Children in Korea . . .
A couple of weeks ago, reporter Chris Carpenter for the JoongAng Daily interviewed my family and me for an article on homeschooling: "Homeschooled kids get best of both worlds." As you see from the photo above, the article has now been published, yesterday in fact (April 15, 2010), both in hard copy and on the internet. Below the photo in the offline and online copies, you can read:
En-uk Hwang takes homeschool classes with his father, Jeffery Hodges, in the evenings after he finishes public school for the day. Hwang will begin homeschooling full time when he reaches the seventh grade.I see that the JoongAng's policy on romanizing Korean names results in a 'misspelling' of "En-Uk" as "En-uk" -- and the same later with "Sa-Rah" as "Sa-rah." Ah, the price of fame . . .
By the way, don't be misled by the quote directly above the photo in the online article:
"I'm not working. I felt like there's no reason why I can't step in and fill in some of the gaps."That's not my remark, but one by another homeschooling parent, Jenny Walters, who is apparently a former teacher herself and is instructing her three daughters at home. Just to be completely clear . . .
Anyway, as you can see in the article if you look, the photo above of En-Uk and me is the only one that accompanies what Mr. Carpenter wrote, so Sa-Rah felt a bit disappointed, I think, but -- on the other hand -- she got quoted:
Sa-rah Hwang, 13, attends what some would call the ideal middle school. Her parents are involved, she doesn't have negative peer pressure and she's close to home.That's why I've learned so much in my life . . . so a little less learning, please! But seriously, I do believe in letting children learn by making mistakes without being made to feel stupid -- and certainly without being punished physically for errors, as sometimes happens in Korean schools. Even in elementary school, this at times happened, and I felt that Sa-Rah had suffered enough. Sun-Ae thought so, too.
In fact, she's in it.
In September 2009, Hwang left Korean public school halfway through the seventh grade and became one of about 600 to 1,000 kids in South Korea who are homeschooled.
That wide range is the best guess of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a U.S.-based nonprofit. In fact, it's difficult to say how many families homeschool in Korea since, for Koreans, it falls into a legal gray area -- prohibited by law, but not punished by the authorities.
For non-Koreans living here, though, it's legal. Lee Gyeong-rim, who works in the global human resources division at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, said Korea does not have laws dictating how foreign families educate their children. The only possible drawback for foreign children who homeschool may be difficulty entering Korean universities, Lee said.
For Hwang, whose father is American and mother is Korean, that won't be a problem. One of the reasons she homeschools is because she plans to go to an American college.
"If I wanted to go to an American university, I had to work harder on my English," she said.
She begins most school days between 8:30 and 9 a.m. and tackles one subject per day, finishing at about 2 p.m. Monday is English, Tuesday is math, Wednesday is science and so on. Hwang gets her assignments online, does homework and turns it in to teachers at Keystone School, a U.S. accredited online school whose graduates earn a U.S. high school diploma.
The contrast between Korean and American learning styles was another factor in the decision.
"I didn't want my children to be punished for giving the wrong answer," Hwang's father, Jeffery Hodges, said. "Because to get to the right answer or to be creative you have to make a lot of mistakes, and you learn from your mistakes."
For anyone interested, go and read the entire article.