Students go to their normal school during the day, then usually go straight to a hagwon to learn more because, apparently, their regular school is not doing enough. There are also many international schools in Korea that have to deal with this issue. It might lead teachers to think that parents do not trust the schools they send their students to?
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.
In Korea there is a very strong culture of ranking, this manifest itself in the workplace but also in schools. Parents are constantly looking for ways for their children to be the best in the class. Therefore, if you send your child to a hagwon, they will become the best at what they are doing in school.
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?
Concept driven and inquiry based education should be about giving students an opportunity to learn through unfamiliar situations. Solving real life problems rather than rote learning. Will parents start to put pressure on teachers because they are not doing enough in school? Will teachers feel they need to move away from the concept driven curriculum to the content driven curriculum because of this pressure?
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.
I am currently doing a health unit on leisure, recreation and participation in activities after school. I am not sure students actually have enough leisure time and participate in recreational activities. I will be conducting a survey to find out about this with them. We have already discussed the idea of what these mean and why they are important. Some students participate in outside school activities, but how often?
I know the Korean government have put some things in place to restrict the opening hours of hagwons and are also trying to promote a more international approach in their educational system. We have had many visitors come to our school to get inspired by what we are doing.
I have been writing for nearly five years on and off in the world of twitter, facebook groups, blogging and sharing ideas thoughts with the wider physical education world.