Hagwons in U.S.

December 11, 2008

1st Article

In Flushing, New York – one of the major Korea towns in the Eastern United States – more than 300 hagwon have sprung up, largely due to the Korean zeal for education. Bell Boulevard stretches 3.5 kilometers (2.1 miles) through the district, crowded with 60 private schools targeting Korean students. The area looks just like a street in Daechi-dong, a popular hagwon district in southern Seoul.

“There are a number of Korean students who withdraw from prestigious universities after they find it extremely difficult to catch up with their peers in English writing and in logical reasoning – which is fundamental to studying in Western classrooms,” said the head of another hagwon, also identified only by the surname Kim.

“Most Korean students accustomed to a cramming style of education are generally weak in logical reasoning on their own. Therefore, apart from poor English skills, they find it particularly difficult to write an essay in the ‘Western’ way, which calls for creative thinking,” said the chief of an institute for Korean students in Flushing, who gave the last name Sohn.

“Many Korean students still write cut-and-paste essays, which is considered to be plagiarism here in the U.S.,” said Dr. Kim.

Used to more lenient Korean standards when it comes to copying the work of others, many Korean students find it hard to get used to strict Western academic standards, under which copying just a few sentences without identifying the source is considered plagiarism.

As a Korean who spent most of my life in the United States, I was really interested by this article. I didn’t know that there were many hagwons in the U.S. I never attended one in Texas my whole life. However, when I got here, I went to tons of hagwons for help in my academics. It definitely helps my studies but I wonder if it is for the better. In college, students have to be responsible and do their own work and be creative. In Korea, hagwon teachers and tutors sometimes do the work or do almost all the work for the students in exchange for payment. This is leading students who spend most of their lives in Korea to struggle in universities in America because they don’t have any help. I think these hagwons for college students is a good idea so the students won’t completely drop out. However, I think it is crucial for these hagwons to not be like the ones in Korea. Hagwons should be there to help the students by guiding them, not doing the work for them. I think if all hagwons have the attitude of guiding the students instead of doing the work for the students, Korean students will be better prepared for college studies and events in the future.

2nd Article

The attitudes and conduct of some 29,760 high school students across the United States “doesn’t bode well for the future when these youngsters become the next generation’s politicians and parents, cops and corporate executives, and journalists and generals,” the non-profit Josephson Institute said.

An overwhelming majority, 83 percent, of public school and private religious school students admitted to lying to their parents about something significant, compared to 78 percent for those attending independent non-religious schools.

“Despite these high levels of dishonesty, these same kids have a high self-image when it comes to ethics.”

It is evident that students are cheating more and more at a rapid rate. The reason for this is because students receive so much pressure to do well academically that they are willing to risk their futures just on one test or exam. What students don’t realize is that a few failed tests does not ruin ones future. Getting caught cheating will ruin one’s future. I admit that it is very tempting to cheat and do well on a test but in the end, I realize that it’s not worth it to cheat on a few tests. I don’t blame the students for falling into the trap. Sometimes, the pressure is too high and some peoples’ wills aren’t as strong as others. However, every person who gets caught should be punished orderly so they can learn from this mistake and never commit this crime again. If they don’t get punished, they’ll do worse things and keep doing them. In Korea especially, the pressure is at a maximum. Students commit suicide during high school if they do not receive perfect scores. It’s ridiculous how much stress parents put on the students. When I read the part where boys tend to cheat more than girls, I completely agreed with this quote. In Korea, there is a tradition of the parent to put pressure on the eldest son to succeed to set a good example for their younger siblings. This leads to additional pressure.

Students pass notes around when the teacher isn't looking.

Students pass notes around when the teacher isn't looking.Students cheat during an exam.

Students cheat during an exam.

Students cheat during an exam.


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