firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
Open Education and Freedom of Choice
Opinion Leaders' Digest 99-44
Date : November 19, 1999
Author : Chang-Ha Lee, Teacher, Huimoon Middle School
Open Education and Freedom of Choice
It is time to point out problems of education in the season of entrance examination. The Ministry of Education seems to prepare for the knowledge-based society for the next century by means of BK 21(Brain Korea 21) project. But the secondary education is very important along with the education for college and graduate school cultivating advanced manpower. Therefore, I would suggest the direction of education reform because I feel as a teacher what necessary for students is to understand the righteous individualism.
When I explained on the individualism to the students, one of my students asked me what I think about the individualism. I have principle not to express my private opinion in the class, but at that time I expressed a positive opinion on the individualism. A group of students screamed a little, and other group dubiously said, "How can a moral teacher positively say about the individualism!"
When I heard this, I realized once again that the students understood very little about the individualism. The students understand the 'Individualism' just like the conception of 'Egoism'. The moral textbook contributes to the wrong perception of the students. In the moral textbook, the life is mainly divided into two types. One is the life of sacrifice and the other is the life of deprival of other people's shares. If one classifies people into two types based on black & white theory like this, the individualism belongs to the type of person who dispossesses other person's shares, because the individualist is regarded as one who concerns his own profits most.
The individualism is an idea that one has rights to behave liberally to the utmost only when he does not damage to other people. Therefore, you can say that the individualists belong to neither good nor bad, which is prescribed in the moral textbook because the individualists neither do damage to nor sacrifice for other person.
The reason why we consider individualism as a negative thing in spite of its neutral value is that we are probably suspicious about the fact that the society with lots of individualists works normally. If an individual behaves pursuing his private profits, people may regard cooperation of the community as impossible. On the contrary, it is possible for an individual who behaves pursuing his private profits to cooperate with other person after concluding a contract. Accordingly, if there are lots of people who cooperate with each other for his own profits in the equal relationship, the society would not be described as a group of fragmented individuals. However, the human relationship established by such contract is negatively described in the moral textbook. It says, there was no 'mine or yours' in 'once upon a time', and it regards the human relationship based on the excessive interest of the present days as negative.
It is warmhearted and kind feature to share foods with neighbors all the time. However, we should not set the unrealistic ideal as our criteria, when we criticize something. The reason why is that everything can be negatively judged when the unrealistic ideal is set as criteria. There is possibility to establish a pure relationship with neighbors when we once cooperate with neighbors even though we do it for our profits.
Individualism and Open Education
What kind of results can we get if we understand education through the individualism?
In the past, the school was understood as the relation of teacher and student, but it can be understood as the contract relation between members in view of individualism. It means, the students and their parents choose the school to study and conclude a contract to keep the school regulations. When a party violates the contract, it is possible to leave school or dismiss the student concerned.
The open education means a reform movement to select the favorite subjects and teachers by expanding the curriculums to be chosen by the students. The open education is based on the market economy theory. They say that the education is changing today from the producer-oriented education of the past to the consumer-oriented one. Such an insistence is deemed reasonable. However, it does not mean that everything is being positively changed in reality even though the consumer-oriented education is a desirable one.
Now, I would like to think about the punishment prohibition that is often mentioned in the name of the open education. It is true that there have been lots of problems in the process of punishment until now. However, the punishment itself is not important issue, if the school notifies the contents and methods of punishment when the students choose the school (the students should have rights not to enter the school in this case), and the school keeps the contract fairly and sincerely. The punishment is a kind of education method and has its benefit. Therefore, it is not the thing to be abolished, when its side effect is minimized. The issue of punishment can be included in the contract between the consumer and the producer. In addition, the discussion- styled lesson has not always bad aspect. The students and their parents should make a judgement on it.
They say that the students who have already known about the society by means of consumer-oriented education reform do not listen what the teachers say as the past. If a teacher says in class to the students 'Listen to the lesson carefully.' students say, 'None of your business (It is just my responsibility weather I listen to the lesson or not.') How should the teacher cope with this situation? If the individualism is well established in the country, two possibilities should exist. Firstly, the students should have rights to leave school where unattractive lessons are offered. Secondly, the school should have rights to dismiss the students who do not listen to the lessons. However, these two possibilities are not possible in reality, because other schools offer similar education services. The school does not have rights to dismiss students institutionally. As a result, most students have no other choice but to go to the school and most teachers should give lessons in such circumstances. If the students and their parents have rights to select the school and if the school has rights to select students, the school education would be better carried out than now.
What the Ministry of Education to do is to establish a foundation to supply various education materials. To achieve this goal, diverse private schools should be established. Different from other field, there is no right answer in education. There is no fixed direction to which the education should be reformed or so. Therefore, the most important reform task for the Ministry of Education is to set up a basis to obtain the independent financial management so that various private schools will be established.
In this case, the administrator of the school would make effort to attract excellent students competing with other schools. It is the same principle that a manager can get more profits employing workers than a sovereign gets profits using slaves. If the independent management were secured, the burden of educators would diminish in Korea.
Change of American Education
Only persons who are in over average position in terms of economy power are allowed to enter American private schools due to their expensive tuition fee. On the contrary, the public schools are not expensive to study, but many people complain about their low quality of education.
In order to meet the demand of consumers, new systems such as voucher system and charter schools are emerging in the USA. The voucher system means that the public school issues a voucher, a kind of coupon, with support money of the American government and students, who enter the public school, submits this voucher to the school where they want to study. The charter school means a school where is able to set up curriculums or school affairs liberally from the education administration department or local autonomy institutions.
Such change offers an opportunity for the American to select schools liberally, The change of American education is based on the individualism paying regard to free pursuit for profits. The above-mentioned change of education system is possible, because such new schools and systems are produced by interest groups, not by the government.
Direction of Education Reform
The reform for the open education has positive aspect in terms of consumer-oriented education. However, the independent management of private schools should be expanded to secure real rights for the students to select schools. It is the same theory that the subject of the enterprise management is not the consumer, but the manager. Therefore, the private school should have rights to accept or reject students. The reform can succeed only when the private school promotes reform for its survival in the competitive society.
(The view expressed here is the author's personal view. It is not the official view of the CFE.)