Last week I went on a school trip to the Olympics. Now the Olympics was pretty nifty; it was an experience I will look back on fondly for a long time. That being said this post is not about the Olympics. I went, I saw, I froze. It was a cool adventure all around. (did you see what I did there? haha....)
No, what really got my geek was the part of the trip meant for the students. Let me back up a bit and say this first. Field trips with Korean teenagers as opposed to American teenagers is like night and day. There were no spontaneous outbursts of half remembered Disney songs. I didn't have to confiscate tennis balls because they bounced off the head of the driver. No sunflower seeds. No signs being held in the back window saying "help us they have knifes." (and no that wasn't a spelling error on my part.) Honestly unless I looked behind me it was like they weren't even there. They required zero chaperoning. Zip. Nada. As in, we arrived in the city, told them what time to meet up for lunch and let them loose. (the exact opposite of me by the way, who basically became the kid on the backpack leash after I accidentally became separated from the group right out of the starting gate.) This gives you a glimpse into just how responsible these kids are.
Now to the main event. Job World. On our itinerary it simply said job training. I thought this was gonna be some half baked attempt to make cubicles and broken printers seem exciting. I had no expectations for this part of the trip. I should have known better. For starters even the building was shiny.
This was the view when you first enter. By then I realized that of course Korea would take job training to a whole new level. Silly me. Now I was getting excited but I still had no idea what was really going on. I thought this place was going to be like MOSI (museum of science and industry for those who don't know.) and it was in a way; with one major difference. Job World is exactly what it's name says. It showcases careers. ALL CAREERS. It had everything from being a bee keeper to mission control for space programs. the first two levels featured a walk through exhibit with different interactive displays for various jobs. (I shamelessly played with the touch screen design your own train game.) The level below that showcased the TECHNOLOGY used in these career fields. Not just current technology but also displays for things being designed for the future. They had models for future cities. I literally saw things there that was in the Black Panther movie. (You only thought Wakanda was in Africa.)
This was the beginning of the walk through.
An overhead view of the level dedicated to technology.
I was playing a virtual reality game.
So many cool things and the fun wasn't even finished. Before my co-teachers let me loose to explore on my own (The first time all weekend. I guess they thought they couldn't lose me in a building.) they told me to be back on level three if I wanted to observe the students. uh alright. I had no idea what they were talking about but I'm game for anything. So after playing with the virtual reality and getting lost on level four I made it back in time to "observe" the students. At this point I had noticed that I hadn't actually ran into any of my students on the other levels which begs the question, where did they go? Unbeknownst to me they had already started "job training".
Job training. America, we seriously need to take a leaf out of Korea's book on this one. This was so much cooler than having peoples parents volunteer to show students how to carve eggs or fold napkins. Myself and another teacher were ushered into a viewing area. It was another walk through area similar to what I had just been through except this time I was on the outside looking in at my students being coached. As I understood it each student could choose a couple different career paths that interested them and they spent an hour in each learning about what the qualifications are and getting some practical hands on experience. The pictures best describe what was goingon. Check it out.
I loved every minute of this trip but I was honestly blown away by the sheer amount of EVERYTHING that is invested into preparing the youth of Korea for their futures. Their education system isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but they are miles ahead of what we have in America. I remember taking a compatibility test in middle school for what I was best at. It told me that I would be a fantastic tank driver. yep.
Seriously though I honestly think that we could benefit from integrating more hands on approaches into our curriculum. American students are graduating from high school completely clueless and unable to take care of themselves and elementary students here can keep buildings from burning down. Do you know how many American parents would be breathing fire and demanding our jobs if we (the teachers) left their middle and high school children to fend for themselves in the middle of the Olympic plaza? We didn't even have the awkward helicopter parents as chaperones. (to be fair though the probability of someone walking off with your kid is significantly less here) Students here are taught and encouraged to be self sufficient and therefore more responsible over all.
What do you think? Am I viewing the world through rose tinted glasses or do you agree with me and think that a practical more hands on approach towards education would be above and beyond better than what we are teaching our students today?
My name is Arielle. (Not actually named after the mermaid, but a character from Thundar the Barbarian) I am an English teacher in South Korea.