Friday, April 16, 2010

Homeschooling my Children in Korea . . .

En-Uk and I
Photo by Chris Carpenter
(Image from JoongAng Daily)

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.

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."
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.

For anyone interested, go and read the entire article.

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At 5:55 AM, Blogger John B said...

It sounds like you are following a US curriculum, so I am curious what, if any, Korean language, literature, and history education you are including.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

That's my wife's job, actually. I would be incompetent at it.

Sa-Rah's reading in Korean -- things that my wife is encouraging, but I don't know exactly what.

Just to be clear, though, I do think it important that my children be entirely bi-cultural, and they might even decide on a Korean university, so I want them to be prepared.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:25 PM, Blogger A.H. said...

Very interesting. There are so many views on this one. The general education line in the UK would be that home-schooling restricts social development and co-operative learning abilities, often leads to a narrow curriculum. Of course, this verdict comes from a system geared to co-operative learning and citizenship. I find your case more complex because it is (I think) a choice between a restrictive ideological educational system and the free thinking education that you wish to provide. The choice to home-school is available in the UK: it often hits the headlines where child prodigies are concerned (and the press, quietly, wants to gloat at social oddballs; or the press, openly, wishes to make a racial point e.g. Black pupils succeed better at home because they avoid the negative aspects of high schooling). I think your idea of bi-culturalism and bi-lingualism is wonderful. May fortune favour this independent decision.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks. It's been difficult doing both -- the public Korean elementary school and the private home schooling -- so having my daughter enrolled in an online school has been great, but she's had to make some adjustments . . . self-discipline, mostly.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:21 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

John B, my wife added a reminder -- Sa-Rah is in a reading group, for literature and various things in Korean.

She also studies Chinese, for whatever that's worth . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:04 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Can I please get the website for this online high school.

At 7:39 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Mike, here it is.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:38 PM, Blogger EC Culture in Contrast said...

I just read your article...very interesting! Any chance you know of a good online 1st-3rd grade school? My family will be in Korea next month. I know we want to homeschool. But I have no idea where to start.

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sorry, but the only school that I know of online for homeschooling begins at grade 6.

You might have to do the schooling on your own, as I did, using textbooks.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am moving with my two sons and wife to korea in june. my coworkers have told me that the school nearby is used to foreign students and will help them assimilate easily/ on the other hand my wife (she is korean) is very concerned that they will be bullied by peers and ignored or ridiculed by teachers. any advice for my family is greatly appreciated. my email is

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Our children have not been bullied, except once or twice, but they grew up in Korea and are already bicultural (and know Korean culture very well).

If your children can speak Korean, they will be able to adjust, I think, especially if they are young. The older, the harder.

If the school is used to foreign students, that will surely help.

I don't know your situation, but I should add, since this is the social reality, that Koreans distinguish among various nationalities. All non-Koreans are considered foreign, but some foreigners are more acceptable than others. The same goes for mixed children. Some mixtures are more acceptable that others.

This is slowly changing. Heinz Ward is celebrated in Korea for his football exploits and has been welcomed in Korea several times, so mixtures of Korean and African-American have become more acceptable.

The same goes for other mixtures. They are gradually becoming more accepted.

As you see, much depends on various things . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jeffrey.

I'm a Korean student and I recently started homeschooling mostly because I couldn't take the traditional Korean education system any more. I was actually good at it. In fact, my grades (the only thing that matters to a Korean student) were in the top 5% of the class, enough to gain admittance to a good college (the ultimate objective of living to a Korean student). But that doesn't compensate for the ridiculously hostile learning environment they have here. I spent almost 20 hours a day studying (no, not studying, but MEMORIZING) and it's about time I put up with this madness. Anyway, sorry for being so emotional there, but the problem is that I got caught up so emotionally that I never really thought carefully about homeschooling. I'm doing most of my studies at an online high school and I'm looking to apply to Stanford EPGY OHS next year, but aside from that, I'm totally lost on what I should do. Can you give me some advice? Are there any homeschooling groups in Seoul? If so, I'd love to get in touch. Thank you!


At 9:04 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dear Ms. Shannon Jang,

Thanks for the email. I've posted a number of times about homeschooling, and comments indicate an interest in it here in Korea, but I don't know of any groups.

That has been a problem, actually, and my daughter has felt very isolated, so much so that she's decided to return to the Korean school system. You seem like the sort of student who won't mind isolation as much as my daughter has. I wish you the best in this.

By the way, I perhaps ought to correct a couple of things. My name has an unusual spelling: "Jeffery."

An though you wrote this:

"it's about time I put up with this madness"

. . . you meant this:

"it's about time I stopped putting up with this madness"

Oh, about the advice? Read a lot, write a lot, and think a lot.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:50 PM, Blogger Jessica V said...

Jeffery. I am a teacher in Korea and a mom of two young boys. I will be homeschooling (not sending to Korean elementary.)

Which curriculum are you using?

At 5:14 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Our kids receive both a Korean and an American education, so they're not, strictly speaking, being homeschooled.

I use a mix of texts to homeschool in English: Scott Foresman (science, social studies, reading), Macmillan / McGraw-Hill (math), and Cambridge - Murphy & Smalzer (grammar)

I supplement these with works of fiction for reading along with readings in nonfiction, and I teach them writing on my own since that's my area of expertise.

I'm afraid I'm not much help. The homeschooling hasn't worked out so well in our case. I have too little time to do it properly, and my kids lack the necessary self-discipline to take up the slack.

In short, expect to work a lot.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:17 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

Just a question if I may – as a family man with a dual nationality daughter, you will obviously know the answer, so I'd appreciate your response very much indeed.

My daughter is soon to begin school -- I am very concerned indeed, however, about the possibilities of discrimination and ethnic exclusion/bullying. She has not been to any organised nurseries etc, but I do notice two clear responses from Korean children when she plays in the playground: she is always treated as ‘different’ and as ‘the other’. Either she is treated as 'special' different. Or she is treated as 'foreigner' different, and all that implies.

There doesn't seem to be much in between.

As I father, I wonder how healthy that is for a child of dual nationality (I won't use the word 'mixed race' since we don't even know what 'race' really means anyway, so I dislike that word more and more.)

How healthy is it, to always be treated as 'different' -- special or foreign different -- it worries me. I also worry about the internalised, conscious prejudice or subconscious racism from the teachers that dual nationality children might face -- let's be honest, all Koreans I meet clearly have 'views' about racial purity, Minjok, and so on and so on..

I am worried about it, and I'd be very interested if you could email tell me your views and experiences regarding your own family.

I am beginning to wonder if it may just be better to do Home School instead, as you did -- after all, my daughter could increase her social circle independently, via playgroups, music class, drawing classes etc, and save herself all the potential brainwashing of ethnically centred Korean schools -- I'd love to hear your views and experiences, really. I'd appreciate to hear how you and your family have dealt with these questions.

I’d like my daughter to remain an unregimented, free and happy person, not one aware of all kinds of unnecessary stuff… I am very keen to hear how you and your dual nationality family worked with these questions, which surely must also feature in your family life.

At 1:21 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

PS I should add, that my daughter is completely fluent in Korean and English ( I am white British, my wife Korean academic) and she is very 'white' in appearance. Not that I care at all to take in such details as skin tone, but we know it is important with mixed nationality children here.

I do thank you if you have the time to advise/reply.

At 4:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Joe, as you might have noticed from some of my replies to others, the home schooling didn't work well on its own with my daughter. A child needs a high degree of intellectul motivation and personal discipline. I eventually learned that my daughter needed the structure of a school. I continue to work with her on English, though rather less than before. Same goes for my son.

As for treatment by others . . . I think that you've identified the alternatives. From your description, I'd say that your daughter will get the "special different" treatment. My kids seem to get that. It's better than the other treatment, of course.

The important thing will be for your daughter to make friends. My kids seem to have done so, and the friendships seem genuine. I think that there are enough open-minded kids these days, so your daughter will probably be okay. Is she outgoing, extroverted? That will make things easier. If she's introverted, she'll probably need support.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:00 AM, Anonymous Joe said...

Thanks for your reply Horace --

perhaps I am being over protective and over cautious -- I do worry because my daughter has a very strong consciousness of having dual nationality -- she has a very clear identity of being Korean AND British, and she loves that aspect of her identity, she is at peace with it -- but I know from watching her interact with other Koreans of her age, some of them have a real problem with that, and on more than one occasion I have had to step in and ‘take the edge’ off things when she is with her play-friends. It is the old, "No, you are weigukin, you cannot be Korean" etc.

And what worries me is that I have met numerous adults here who have exactly the same view...

I worry about racism from teaching staff too. Did your children notice any such prejudice from staff? I’d be very keen to hear if you have time.

Also, I may be wrong of course, but I sense that things have changed in the last three years regarding attitudes to dual nationality foreigner children and their place in Korean society, and I have done a LOT of background reading, research on stats and ‘Korean opinion’ at the intellectual level ( Choi Jang Jip, Shin Gi Wook, Baek Nak Jung etc.) as well as the popular press level, as well as the ‘zeitgeist’ level -- there has been a MASSIVE surge in numbers of dual nationality children which (so the literature tells me) has put a strain on social relations at the school and local services and admin and military level. The military, for the first time, have had to allow mixed nationality troops into the army – now, there are just over 150 dual nationality troops – but that is predicted to soar to nearly 5,000 troops within the next three years! There has been the same massive jump in numbers of school children from dual nationality backgrounds.

I suppose perhaps we could compare it to, when I was at University, in the early 80s -- we had no more than three or four Hindu guys and a couple of Chinese in our age group – no more -- most of us thought they were very cool and hip. We dug their music and culture difference. They were cool – they were different. They were very at ease in our ‘group’ and had their own privileged, respected niche.

However -- a few years later, there was a massive upsurge of Asians, and the Hindu/Muslim/Chinese ratio leapt to about thirty percent of the college intake -- that was no problem for me (I couldn’t care less) but I know LOTS of British people DID become reactionary impatient racists very quickly when the identity of their homogeneous world changed.

I worry the same thing has happened in Korea in recent years.

I hope not -- maybe I am being over cautious -- as I said. Let’s hope I am wrong. I'd be very interested to hear if you, your wife or children notice any changes in that regard.As part of a growing number of dual nationality families in Korea, I feel a certain reponsibility in my own small way, to try and contribute something to the ongoing debates around these issues, and I read as much as I can on the topic.

Anyway, thanks for your advice -- from what you have written, your son and daughter seem very well adjusted and happy and content, so that is reassuring for me to hear. I am probably what may be called an over protective father!



At 8:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Joe, for the further comment. I go by "Jeffery," by the way.

I understand your concern about how attitudes can change as larger numbers of 'foreigners' appear. The problem can develop from both sides if large numbers of immigrants settle in one area, don't learn the local language, and have a different culture.

But that's not what I see happening here in Korea. The mixed kids speak Korean, know Korean culture, are half-Korean ethnically, and are actually Korean even if some Koreans find this fact difficult to accept.

I expect some problems, but I don't expect the conflicts that we see in Europe between, say, Muslim communities and the larger population, for the dynamic is very different.

But being protective is always a good tactic, so keep at it.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will be moving to Korea this summer with my family. We homeschool already but plan to enroll our youngest child in a Korean school. HE is not mixed at all. After reading your post it seems that most of you feel as thoug your child has a "special" social upperhand if they appear more European. Is this the case? Should I reconsider enrolling my child in the Korean school system for fear of ostracism? The main reason for us enrolling would be the language immersion.

At 11:06 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My children didn't suffer ostracism, but looking European helps, I think.

Darker children encounter more problems, though there can be good and bad schools, but I am too ignorant to advise.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:23 AM, Anonymous Lori said...

I forgot to add that we use the K12 curriculum which is available internationally and it's very good. We supplement with Abeka. We are African-American, tow of our children were born in Japan but we are not mixed. Our children are in grades K and 2. I really have high hopes that society as a whole is becoming more enlightened ;@ )

At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Nomad07 said...

I forgot to add that we use the K12 curriculum which is available internationally and it's very good. We supplement with Abeka. We are African-American, tow of our children were born in Japan but we are not mixed. Our children are in grades K and 2. I really have high hopes that society as a whole is becoming more enlightened ;@ )

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Lori (Nomad), Korea is becoming more enlightened, but a sad truth is that Koreans prefer European mix if there is to be any mixing.

But there are half-Koreans like Heinz Ward and Insooni, whose fathers were African-American, and these two are now very popular in Korea.

African-American children who are not part Korean will probably encounter some problems, but since you've lived in Japan, you would already have dealt with this and therefore know more than I do.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Nomad07 said...

My children were the only foreigners in their school in Japan but they were very young (ages 1-5) when attending the school. As you know prejudice usually doesn't start settling in until the older ages. Now that they are ages 6 and 8, I'm a little more concerned with how they would be treated. I would be ok with my two year old in preschool. I would prefer to just continue homeschooling and find a tutoring center for language learning (not necesarily Korean). We will probably eventually head to Japan once we leave Korea. Does your child learn Chinese at home or through a tutor/hagwan?

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My daughter learned some Chinese from a tutor, and my son's learning some now, but we focus mainly on Korean and English (though Chinese is a smart option for the future).

Good luck with all this.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Korean but was born and raised in America. I moved to Korea and I attend to a Korean high school right now. I hate it. I want to ask my parents if I can do homeschooling but i don't know how....are there any Korean online education programs? If your kids go to an American college will they have to take TOEFL or SAT?

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I don't know about online Korean schools. I know there are several online American schools, but as you might have noticed from the comments, homeschooling didn't agree with my daughter, for she lacked motivation. That doesn't seem to be your problem. Anyway, my kids would need to take the SAT whether homeschooled or traditional-schooled.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh ok :) thanks for the reply!

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're welcome!

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also a high school student in Korea raised in America. I consider myself pretty much American, but legally, I'm Korean.
Do you have to have American citizenship to go to one of these online schools?
I've been looking for a way out of Korea for the past couple of years and it feels like I finally found one.. Please, please say Keystone is open to non-citizens...

At 7:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, noncitizens can attend US public schools, so I don't think Keystone would be different. You'd have to check.

A caution about Keystone, however, for things didn't end so well. We grew dissatisfied with their bureaucratic anonymity.

My daughter stopped doing her homework to study for a special test in Korea, but she received regular reports saying that she was doing well in her work.

Yet, Keystone failed to send a reminder that the work needed to be done by a certain date, so we ended up losing a semester's money and receiving no school credits.

So, be careful . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I see. Keystone doesn't seem to get good reviews in general.
But thank you so much! Your information was really helpful!

At 6:26 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You're welcome.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:02 AM, Anonymous Tom said...

Hi, I moved to Korea and currently homeschooling my kid. Is there US home school groups in Korea? Thanks.

At 6:08 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sorry, Tom, but I don't know of any, which was part of the problem I experienced. My daughter has since returned to public school.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Jeffery, I’d love to discuss these things with you further, since we both have dual nationality Western- Korean born daughters – I am the guy Joe who posted above, a few years ago.

We are homeschooling our daughter, very successfully, and we have loved every minute of it. Every day is a real joy. However, the problem does not come from us, and our work, which we all love – it comes from Koreans, who seem to find it impossible to accept someone functioning and and learning OUTSIDE the womb of the collective state. I hesitate to call it a Confucian stance, because whilst it does undoubtedly have an underpinning of Confucianism, I think it is more an attitude of highly conformist ultra right wing capitalist consumerism driving the group mind here.

The other problem we find is, even though my daughter is 100% percent fluent in Korean, and happily considers herself Korean – those around her do not. It’s not that her friends don’t like her. She has not been bullied – but she is considered outside, foreign, not one of the tribe.

We send our daughter to local hagwans regularly, to make sure she isn’t isolated, but the other Korean students and parents have drawn a line in the sand – ‘in group’ which is the ‘pure Korean’, and ‘out group’, which is the weigukin. And no, it isn’t down to my daughter’s character – my daughter is very very outgoing, fun loving, energetic, very sociable, and very willing to join the group and get involved in the heart of activity.

I am not sure what to do about it – perhaps it is because we live in a small countryside town? I wonder if Seoul would be any different, or perhaps it would be just the same dynamics and attitudes, but in a bigger pond?

Hmmmm….it is very difficult to decide what to do, since we are so happy homeschooling, and our daughter loves it too.

I also wonder if Korea will actually ever make a place in their society for dual nationality children like ours – after all, it is such a rigid society, that they don’t even make allowances for their own ‘pure race’ Koreans to show the slightest signs of autonomy, independent thinking and difference, and you always read in the papers about some new kind of ‘problem’ group in Korean society – one of the recent ‘problem groups’ ( so I read in the papers, and my students repeatedly tell me about it too ) is the Korean who has lived in the West for two or three years and comes back with slightly different values and outlooks, and perhaps a slightly modified accent. They are not accepted and they tend to be pushed out of the jobs market (even though, ironically, they thought their three years aboard would make them more marketable).

Now – if those harmless 'pue' Korean persons are considered a ‘problem outsider’ group, I simply can’t imagine the day a half Korean half Irish or half Korean half Spanish, or half Scottish half Korean would be allowed to join society (university, jobs, etc), hold their head high, and allowed to function freely, without interference and prejudice, on equal footing with the ‘pure race’ Koreans, within such a rigid system.

Am I worried? Yes I am – very worried.

It seems to me that much of Korean society works on brash power relations – the forceful take part in a battle of wills, and there isn’t much space for the reflective, sensitive, pluralistic, and inclusive and open minded – strength and force wins the day, and is respected as having that role.

Sorry for the monologue Jeffery and I am sorry for the rant – I had to get that off my chest, and I wonder if you had any thoughts.

At 6:53 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Joe, I infer that Seoul is different since my two kids seem to have encountered few difficulties here.

Perhaps they will meet with barriers when they begin looking for jobs, but that doesn't mean they'll find no way through.

I'm an outsider, but I make my way here somehow.

I believe your daughter will find her way if she doesn't give up. Some person or institution will find that she is needed for a position that nobody else can fill.

And if Korea can't decide how to employ her, then the bigger world will figure out something . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Jeffery,sorry for my monologue rant-- there are just not many people to discuss these matters with in Korea. Thanks for your reasoned and balanced reply. Perhaps it is better to be near Seoul rather than in the countryside, and – hopefully -- my experiences and perspectives are simply a result of parochial living. If I may ask, do your children feel the sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ I described in my earlier post? I worry about mixed ethnicity children being objectified here. I see it every day, and wonder about its psychological effects. Since your children are older than mine (my daughter is 7/8 years old) I’d be interested to hear their take on it. I feel that mixed ethnicity children here are like ghosts within the system – they are on the inside in that they are a visible part of everyday life here, and want to integrate, yet, paradoxically, they remain on the outside looking in, since society hasn’t even addressed the issue of whether they accept mixed ethnicity children as equal or not, and besides stereotyped highly stylized documentaries showing ‘happy families loved by their neighbours’, there are no mixed ethnicity people fairly represented on television or in the press. (I won’t mention the very occasional silly popular culture, commercially comodified and coerced mixed ethnicity people in the media here – they do not represent reality beyond being sales objects or token cardboard cut outs)

Another factor that concerns me is, even when I think of the Korean adults I know (many of whom have lived in the West for years ) they have a poor understanding of diversity, with bizarre notions of ‘race’ and ‘blood’ etc, and they objectify Westerners as ‘the other’, and that has a lot of negative connotations too. EG Not worthy of being seen as an equal, not worthy of being valued, easy to dismiss etc. I see that a lot, as do all the Westerners I work with, amongst them Westerners whose children have been in the school system for years.

I had none of these negative feelings and sense of misgiving five or more years ago – I was very optimistic about seeing my daughter as Korean ( or at least being seen on equal footing and not objectified), and her being accepted and respected as such – I find myself very concerned now.

Bear in mind that South Koreans do not even accept Kyopo Koreans in the ‘in group’, even if they were born here, and North Koreans are trampled on here – and they are both examples of ‘pure race’ Koreans!

Anyway, I apologise for ranting on your page – I hope these reflections combined with your measured and balanced responses will prove useful to other potential homeschoolers here.

I appreciate your optimistic responses, and I strongly believe you are right to be so – after all, we have valuable, beautiful children with much to offer the world, therefore, looking for OPTIMISTIC solutions and paths has to be the way to go!

Thanks Jeffery,


At 3:10 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Joe, i'll try to respond . . .

"If I may ask, do your children feel the sense of 'us' and 'them' I described in my earlier post?"

I don't think so. They haven't complained about that. But they are different, of course, so there must a subtle dividing line. If you give your children self-confidence, they'll probably be able to handle things.

You seem to have more contact with Koreans than I do, so you probably encounter more of those odd (to us) ideas about 'blood.' But the younger generation seems more flexible about 'foreigners' -- more cosmopolitan.

"Bear in mind that South Koreans do not even accept Kyopo Koreans in the 'in group', even if they were born here, and North Koreans are trampled on here – and they are both examples of 'pure race' Koreans!"

That's an interesting point. Still, even these 'outsiders' will find a role to play. I know I'm an utter outsider, but I seem to have found my place in Korean society -- they need my formidable editing skills!

Always remember: Optimism is better than pessimism because it's more optimistic!

A moral inspired (sort of) by Mammy Yokum's maxim: "Good is better than evil because it's nicer!"

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

Thanks Jeffery -- I think you are right that optimism is an absolute must. Without wishing to sound cliched, the whole world is in a mess,turned upside down, and thus in our own way, we all have to work out our own path, and it would be a luxury to expect an entirely smooth path on the way.

Also, as you imply, like it or not, we ARE outsiders here ( not entirely through choice ) so we should deal with the situation of being outside of things, and...make the BEST of it !

Onwards and upwards,


PS it would be nice if other homeschoolers commented here -- the only other place I have tried to discuss it was on the daves esl page, but that page is frequented by trolls, drunks,inanity and thread derailers -- not worth the effort if one wants to discuss the topic with dignity. There was another reasonable board that had good homeschool posts ( I think), but people rarely post there.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, this is an old blog entry, so it doesn't get much attention.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Joe said...

PS Here is the geoju link if anyone is interested --

At 4:03 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Let me link that for you.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:38 PM, Blogger Tim said...


Thank you for your website. I'm looking for some advice/support in homeschooling here in Korea, so I'll just write on. Sorry if I am inappropriately hijacking your blog.

I have 3 boys, the oldest of which attended Seoul Foreign School for the past 5 years, and the 2nd oldest just completed one year. To be frank, the financial strain was just too much since I am not one of those lucky ones whose company pays for them. Realizing that I've paid university tuition rates for the past 5 years to receive, at best, a public school education...we've pulled them out. I planned to send them to Korea school as they are both conversational in Korea, but being conversational and having an academic vocabulary is quite different. I fear that both boys who did well in an American school environment will lose confidence or develop bad classroom habits (distracted, fooling around) if they cannot follow the lessons.

Hence, I'm considering home schooling. My wife stays at home and my job is flexible enough that I could take a few hours per day or even a few days a week off to teach with her. The boys will be 4th grade and 2nd grade. There is the added distraction of a 2-year-old at home which we will have to deal with as he is needy at times.

I've looked at the K12 curriculum, and it seems ok, as does Calvert. Can anyone else recommend them? Also, as I worry about a lack of social interaction and peer discussion, I'd be interested in finding other home schoolers with the possibility of group lessons or at least discussion groups. My kids also attend POLY which is a returnee English academy where they get a great English education and cover discussions and debate as well. If anyone wants to contact me, please email at

By the way, on the topic of mixed race or racism in Korea, I think there are multiple sides. Mixed children who look more Korean also stand out less and can blend in more than European looking kids. My oldest looks very Korean and the younger is very Caucasian, and the younger garners more attention. As for racism, I think it is all about ignorance thanks to stereotypes in US movies. Ward was popular not only because he is 1/2 Korean but also because he doesn't fit the stereotype. My kids went to school with current basketball star Moon Tae-jong's kids (who is African American), and his entire family is treated extremely well. I've also worked with African Americans here who were quite popular with everyone once the initial period of uncertainty passed. If you think of yourself as an ambassador for your race (my coworkers words), then you will enjoy yourself here. If you come over looking to battle racism, then you will have problems. Think enlighten rather than conflict.


At 6:59 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Tim, thanks for the comments. Perhaps someone will respond.

As you know from reading the long sequence of comments, homeschooling didn't work well in my case, partly because I grew too busy with my own work and couldn't handle the teaching.

If you do homeschool, expect to put a lot of time into it.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:36 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Mr. Hodges,
I came across your blog while looking for information about homeschooling in Korea. I am American and my husband is Korean, so our son (due in July) will have dual citizenship. I read that under Korean law, it is illegal for Koreans to homeschool but legal for foreigners. I saw that your wife is Korean, so I think your kids would fall into the same category as mine. If you have dual citizenship, can you play the 'foreigner card' and homeschool freely, or are you bound by your Korean citizenship not to homeschool? I plan to homeschool regardless, as it's the only way I can help my son academically and give him regular exposure to English, but I prefer to follow the rules.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I have only US citizenship, so I don't know the answer to this:

"If you have dual citizenship, can you play the 'foreigner card' and homeschool freely, or are you bound by your Korean citizenship not to homeschool?"

I would guess that if you have Korean citizenship, then you would have to accept the rules and not homeschool, but that's just a guess.

Or were you talking about your son having dual citizenship and you having only US citizenship? That case would be similar to mine, so I would guess you could homeschool, but don't take my word as gospel. Ask a Korean legal expert. I don't know any, unfortunately.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. I am also an American citizen only. I am relieved there may be a loophole for foreign parents of bi-cultural kids.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Welcome. Good luck!

Jeffery Hodges

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