Many international schools follow a concept driven curriculum:
"The world is changing. Knowledge is changing. The ability to view the world with a more flexible mind is invaluable. Concept based learning is about transferable ideas that transcend time, place and situation. Content just focuses on facts while concepts focus on making sense of those facts and the world around us. Content based teaching may not be beyond information transmission/superficial learning. Concepts are a way to organize and make sense of learning. We can't possibly teach everything that is important, but we can teach the big ideas. Concept based learning is a framework to teach everything. Information is useless unless you can do something with it." Lynn Erikson.
- Hagwon (Korean: 학원; also hagweon or hakwon) is the Korean-language word for a for-profit private institute, academy or cram school prevalent in South Korea.
In a concept driven the curriculum is taught through concepts. In a Hagwon, they teach content. As hagwons are nick named 'cram' schools, students are expected to learn as much as they can in the hours they spend in the classrooms. This is usually done through using and following textbooks. Learning is often driven by tests and exams. I am not sure how hagwons can help students, especially those using the international baccalaureate which are concept driven curriculums.
All IB schools have standards in each subject, which are set for each grade level. When setting assignments or summative tasks, we use criterion based descriptors to assess students. Therefore, a grade 6 student would know what is expected of them from reading the task objectives and the task specific descriptors. The standards are there as a benchmark and guide. When planning your scope and sequence vertically in the curriculum, the standards would alter accordingly as the grade levels went up as would the descriptors.
Students going to a hagwon and being pushed to do more, will reach standards way past their grade level. This could make teachers need to review their standards. Does that mean that schools have to set their standards on what the hagwon schools are setting?
Mathematics is the main subject being affected by the hagwon schools. Many korean students go to math hagwons and excel in understanding content but find it harder to understand when put in a different context. Word problems, discussion and maybe different methodologies could put students off if they have been taught in a particular way and are used to memorizing rather than thinking.
Students are over-worked and have little time for leisure and recreation. They are being driven by their parents to achieve more than they need to at such a young age. Parents who visit the schools looking to enroll their child in pre-k, want to speak to the college councillor about university. When will the obsession stop?