As some of you may know, I'm currently teaching in Korea. For those that don't, I'm currently teaching in Korea. Having done this before, I have eased easily back into the culture and the routine of having long days and hearing "Teacher, Teacher" countless times. I wouldn't be here if I didn't love it though.
The education system in Korea is drastically different from that in Ontario. Currently, I teach students as young as 3 years old. They come to the English Kindergarden and are seated in front of people, such as myself, whom they don't understand and, I can only imagine, are a little bit scared of. Having seen the children I taught when they were 3, and are now 5, it proves that this "start them off young" mentality works wonders! The children whom once starred up at me with a blank stare, are now forming sentences and asking me questions.
If the children aren't too scared of us foreigners, and the parents have the funds, the children will stay at the Kindergarten until they go off to Elementary at the age of 6. At this time, I'll continue to see them at the after school program. These students are usually hungry, tired, and irritable. They have spent a long day at school and sometimes the last thing they want to see is me at the front of the classroom. I understand this though and I try and emphasize all the while laying down the law (just kidding). It's with these students that I know I must take a more relaxed approach. If they want a snack, they can eat in class. If they need a second to clear their minds, I'll give them two. Some of my students are at hagwons (private, after school programs) until 8:00. They still then have to go home and complete all the homework assigned at these schools.
Yes, these kids work and study hard and their test results are evidence of this. Are these kids being pushed too hard? Are our students in Ontario not being pushed hard enough? Having been witness of both education systems, it's clear that the only thing that holds true for both, is that I want to be part of it.