Lee Ju-ho, third from left in the front row, vice-minister of education, science and technology, poses with teachers, selected for the overseas teaching program along with other ministry officials, after a meeting with them at the ministry building in Seoul. / Courtesy of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology
By Kang Shin-who
A group of science and math teachers gathered at the central government complex recently to talk about better ways to adapt themselves to foreign schools where they are supposed to teach for six to eight months.
All of the teachers have proven their excellence in teaching and research so as to be picked by the government as the first-ever Korean delegates to overseas schools. Some of them were invited by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for a meeting with the vice minister to receive encouragement and create a better program.
“I applied for the program as it could help me to nurture my students as global-minded talents,” said Chung Kee-young, an earth sciences teacher at Dongbaek Middle School in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. The 37-year-old will be sent to a school in Nottingham in the U.K.
Kim Moon-sook, 48, a science teacher at Daegu Science High School, expects she will learn the better science education system in the U.K., which has fostered many Nobel Prize winners.
“I wanted to teach students in countries that have produced many Nobel Prize winners in science. I will go and experience how their education is different from ours,” she said.
The ministry introduced the overseas teaching program this year in a bid to globalize schools, and 22 teachers _ 10 in math and 12 in science _ have been selected after winning a fierce competition. A total of 172 teachers in science and math, who can conduct classes in English, applied for the program this year, recording a competition rate of 8:1.
Jang Jung-hwa, 33, a science teacher at Naejung Middle School, said, “Parents and students distrust the ability of public school teachers. Many of them believe hagwon teachers are better than us.”
“This will be a chance to show my students that public school teachers are competitive enough to teach foreign students. The more teachers participate in this program, the more parents will view public education and teachers differently,” she added. Jang will teach in York, Canada.
Among the selected teachers, 14 will go to Nottingham in the U.K., and the remaining eight to York in Canada, as assistant teachers.
Jung Eun-suk, 29, a math teacher at Guhyun High School in Seoul aims to learn how the U.K. is attracting students to science studies. “I heard many students in the U.K. are also reluctant to major in science like here, so I would like to know how the country supports and encourages students to go into the field.”
Park Jeong-ha, 29, who is teaching math at Cheomdan Middle School, said it would be an opportunity for teachers to show foreign students the excellence of Korean teachers and education. “At the same time, teachers can meet the needs of Korean students who want to learn in English-only classes through this program,” she added.
The ministry plans to expand the program so that more teachers have opportunities to teach at overseas schools. Under the plan, 50 teachers and 100 preliminary or trainee teachers will be sent overseas in 2011. In addition, colleges nurturing teachers will run international education curricula in order to prepare students ready to teach at overseas schools. It will also expand partnership countries for the program to include the U.S., Australia and Singapore by the end of the year.
“Teachers will be able to experience overseas education systems and develop themselves, and then they can introduce and share what they have learned from overseas schools with their colleagues,” said a ministry official.
On top of this program, it will cooperate with international education certificate organizations such as the International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
“I want to learn and experience curricula, where students can learn things linked to their future occupations, along with other excellent education programs,” said Kim Seung-man, a science teacher at Sasang High School. The 44-year-old teacher has published many research papers in renowned international journals.