By Lee Hyon-chol
The autumn season this year began with sudden blackouts across the country.
The night of Sept. 15 saw about 2 million households experience the unexpected darkness because of the outage of electric power, incidentally leaving the whole nation filled with anxiety and anger for a while.
The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) explained that an unexpected increase in power consumption due to the exceptionally sultry temperatures compared to that of an average September was the main cause of the accident.
KEPCO didn't know what was awaiting them but was checking a power plant for regular and preventive maintenance when the power reserves fell to the level requiring power cuts to avoid catastrophic blackouts nationwide.
It is important to secure a safe amount of available electric power by building a lot more power plants using fossil fuel or nuclear power, which threatens the repetition of vicious circle of air pollution and global warming. So we have no choice but to save as much energy as possible to reduce the burning of fuel.
In schools, we teach our students to take part in energy-saving activities through various subjects, including in English class. For my part, I have had a lot of different experiences teaching in various schools. I think I was able to see as many different ways of saving energy at those various schools. Now I have an idea of how we can effectively save electricity in schools.
When I was a faculty member of a college, which would be called a community college in America, the owner became president of the school and he told teachers to save as much electricity as possible. It was as if the school was his private property. All the teachers as employees had to respect the wish of the president. The teachers had to take care of everything in the classroom, including even the turning on and off of the lights.
Later, when I had come to teach in a private university, I found a better way there. After class, a student waited for the other students and the teacher to go out of the room and he took care of the electric lights and the other educational equipment such as the blackboard, chalk and eraser. He reportedly was paid a small stipend for taking care of the classroom and electricity.
When I became a lecturer at a national university, I found there were a lot of empty rooms with the lights on. No one seemed to take responsibility for the classrooms. Often I found myself turning off the lights when there were no people inside as I passed by the classrooms.
Now I think we've seen three different kinds of school management. Which do you like best? For my part, I like the last one with the students and the teachers taking care of things around us on their own. That is, after all, the real aim of education.
The writer is teaching English in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. He can be reached at email@example.com.