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[Opinion]Diary Inspection

Posted April. 07, 2005 23:48,   


It is hard to understand why there are so many inspections at schools in Korea—ranging from checks on dress, nails, hairstyles, and bags to physical checkups. In many schools, students receive inspections on various parts of their body every morning. Even during classes or tests, senior students or teachers who are in charge of discipline unexpectedly enter the classroom and check the length of students’ skirts, and sometimes they shave the middle of the students’ head or beside an ear. But students have no choice but to remain silent. This is “the harsh history of Korean schools” repeating again and again regardless of the times.

The inspection of students’ diaries is the most sensitive issue in terms of the violation of privacy. Students have to write a diary and submit it to their teachers. Then, teachers write comments after evaluating the diaries and return them to the students. That might be the reason why students’ diaries are filled with the stories of good deeds rather than honest accounts ordinary daily life. Some smart kids have two different diaries so they can use one for submission and the other for keeping a record of their real stories. But some mature youths exchange their diaries with their girlfriends or boyfriends, or they use them as a means of confessing their love toward their teacher.

The National Human Rights Committee reportedly delivered a message to the Ministry of Education and Human Resource. In the document, the committee asked the ministry to change the practices in which teachers in elementary schools inspect students’ diaries since these leave room for the violation of privacy and the children’s freedom of consciousness. Such a move came after an elementary school asked whether the diary inspection of students aimed at rewarding is a violation of children’s privacy. However, that makes many people wonder if the National Human Rights Committee should intervene in such a matter.

Keeping a diary is very helpful for students in improving writing ability and enriching emotions. In history, the masterpieces of great writers started from journals and the written confessions of philosophers were no different from diaries about his or her inner life. The trust between teachers and students is the most import thing in this issue. It is said that some kids in recent years write about their families too frankly, which often take many teachers by surprise. But that could be a good thing. For example, a mother with a professional career sometimes went home late under the influence of alcohol because of her work. But one day, she had to visit her daughter’s homeroom teacher after receiving a call and was taken to task for her bad behavior.

Oh Myung-chul, Editorial writer, oscar@donga.com