Sunday, March 19, 2017

Encouraging Creativity?

In South Korea, a country obsessed with education and competition even at early ages, there's a growing trend of parents waiting to put their children into the educational rat-race:
"Lee’s daughter attends a kindergarten that focuses more of its time on letting the children play together. After she comes home, she spends three hours every day at a playground. Lee watches on as she plays with other kids and does not interfere when she throws dirt and sand into the air at the playground, soiling most of her clothes. 
When the pair returns home, Lee fills the bathtub for her daughter, who spends another hour or so playing in the water. After dinner, she plays with stuffed animals and paints with her mother. The family goes on trips every weekend, too.
More parents like Lee are opting to delay teaching their children reading and writing in Korean and English and basic mathematics like counting until they enter elementary schools. They are a growing group here as some thousands flock to online communities on portal websites like Daum and Naver that promote more play time for kids."
 I tend to be skeptical about these kinds of articles.  I have no doubt many parents want to encourage their children to progress along a more "creative" educational path, but I also wonder how long this sort of desire lasts.

My first gig in South Korea was at a private kindergarten in the most expensive neighborhood in Seoul.  My (very successful) boss marketed her school with this sort of "creative" or, frankly, "Western" pedagogical approach in mind.  We would teach English, but also art and music and drama.

And parents ate it up.  Until the second week of the new semester, when the complaints started rolling in because -- wait for it -- we weren't assigning homework or tests.

By that afternoon we were assigning nightly homework sheets and planning weekly Friday tests.

And this was almost ten years ago, so go figure.  Certainly there's a strong desire for kids to have artistic abilities and critical thinking skills but when the rubber hits the road nobody wants their son or daughter to fail to keep up with the pack.

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