firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
Some members of the Korean Teachers & Education Workers` Union (KTU) are found to use abusive language when teaching students in class, instigating arguments. Their left-leaned education is no longer news but they have gone too far with rough and vulgar words even in the classroom. Their inappropriate behavior has already exceeded the limit that the constitution allows for the freedom of expression. They should be restrained as they infringe the people`s basic rights. They also give adverse impact on students. The authorities should take stern action.
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Vulgar and abusive language at schools? Yes. But it is coming from the teachers rather than the students. Some teachers have fuelled controversy by teaching ideologically unproven arguments with vulgar and abusive language. One well-known example involves a former high school student in Kimhae a few years ago.
The student recorded a controversial lecture by a teacher, revealing it after graduation out of fear of reprisal. There are many other similar cases. All of the teachers caught doing this are members of the KTU. Their actions raise doubt about the founding spirit and goal of the KTU and undermine the trust of citizens in educators.
KTU teachers have long been outspoken about their left-leaning beliefs. According to reports, they distort facts about former President Park Chung-hee and his industrial achievements. Some even taught communist ideology in public under the former Participatory Government of President Roh Moo-hyun. A history teacher in Gimpo indiscriminately criticized former President Park, former GNP leader Park Keun-hye and Seoul mayoral candidate Ra Kyung-won with abusive language that was disgusting for not only teachers but also adults.
The phenomenon can be approached in two ways. First, we should look at whether their actions can be allowed from the perspective of "freedom of expression." Second, they should be stopped from the perspective of "indoctrination" in pedagogy.
Freedom of expression and constitutional order
First, freedom of expression should be respected only within the boundary of constitutional order. In this sense, some of the teachers` behaviors are not tolerable.
Their lopsided view combined with groundless and vulgar criticism will end up with negating our country and praising North Korea. They will ignore the spirit of the constitution, which in turn undermines law and order. Our children will be unconsciously accustomed to looking down at the constitution. That`s why their behavior should not be tolerated.
Second, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is often cited when they talk about constitutional value. But this should not be interpreted as meaning that people can exercise their basic rights declared by the constitution without any restraints. The clause allows legislative and legal moves to prevent and penalize an act of infringing the basic rights. Saying anything in public is not an absolute and unlimited right. Such behavior should be subject to restrictions as it infringes the basic rights of the country and the people.
The vulgar words in question result in adverse indoctrination. They highlight the positive aspects to defend their comments. I will not go deeper to counter the argument as it requires another long discussion. I see adverse impact as they infuse wrong and groundless beliefs into students. Indoctrination can be harmful in the following cases.
First, they teach about North Korean guerillas and leftist modern history, which are wrong and unjustified.
Second, they keep students from challenging their opinions. Students are deprived of a chance to learn the ability to make an argument when teachers deny religion by questioning how Maria could give a birth as a virgin. It will lead to materialism inhibiting sound religious thinking.
Third, the teachers in question try to stimulate young students` emotion and senses, rather than persuading them with reasonable arguments. By using coarse language in the classroom, they capitalize on latent discontent among adolescents in a revolt stage for their own interest.
Stern action needed
Educational and legal authorities should take stern action against the malaise. Expectations have been high for a decisive move under President Lee Myung-bak`s government but there has been no effective action so far. What will future generations say about our history of tattered education and messy politics?
By Kim Jung-rae, professor of education at Busan National University of Education