Sunday, July 07, 2013

US Textbooks Trigger Curiosity?

Cho Wan-kyu
Google Images

The JoongAng Daily yesterday published an interview by Lee Gwang-jae with retired Seoul National University professor and administrator Cho Wan-kyu, titled, "Veteran educator seeks ways to fix nation's schools" (July 6, 2013), and Professor Cho had some words of praise for America's educational system, in contrast to Korea's system:
The [Korean] school teachers should always offer curiosity-driven courses, allowing their [students'] imagination to run wild. For example, science teachers should not just explain natural phenomena plainly. They can ask students, 'Why does the sun rise in the east? Or why do the vast majority of flowers bloom in spring, not winter? Or what's the difference between apricot blossoms and cherry blossoms?'

They should not put their answers in the text book. Instead, they should let students think about them for a moment. If we look at textbooks in the U.S., they are designed to trigger curiosity and provoke thoughts.
Well, that's what I always say, so I'm grateful to hear it confirmed by a Korean educator! Actually, though, my wife tells me that Korean textbooks for our kids are much improved these days, but that too many old-fashioned teachers don't make effective use of these books.

Things, however, are changing here in Korea, though I think that these changes are happening more rapidly in private education centers, which are starting to offer courses on critical reading, open discussion, and discursive writing, among other things.

Anyway, read the article . . .

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