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[Opinion] Courage of Inha University Professors of Mathematics

[Opinion] Courage of Inha University Professors of Mathematics

Posted December. 08, 2005 02:59,   


In the East, education was considered a “process of a bird making its way out of its egg.” Mother birds hatching eggs know when their offspring should come out by instinct. When a mother bird pecks the shell of an egg, the baby bird inside tries to break the shell as well. A bird comes into the world through such mutual efforts. This emphasizes that education should be done through interaction and sympathy between teachers and learners.

Socrates favored discussion when teaching his students. He harshly criticized, “Some propagandists say that they can provide knowledge just like giving eyesight to the blind’s eyes. But education is not so.” In the modern world, education has largely been done in favor of convenience of the teaching end. Although a “cramming” education is sometimes inevitable in teaching a large number of students at one time, this is not a desirable direction.

A class evaluation system is being rapidly established in Korean colleges. The system in which students assess professors is a modern way of communication to know students’ response to classes. Although professors are often not comfortable with this system, there is a consensus about the intention of making a better class. Professors of the mathematics department of Inha University have decided to publicize the results of class evaluations, starting next year. This is unprecedented since the outcome of class evaluations have been kept secret. This implies that students of Inha University will be able to register for a course knowing how their professors were evaluated in the previous semester. Considering the conservative atmosphere of the country’s universities, such an effort should be highly regarded.

Also, a teacher evaluation system for elementary, middle and high schools is not something that teachers just refuse. Teachers argue that teachers popular with students would gain high scores on evaluations which would undermine education. However, unlike the prejudice, it turned out that “talented professors who provide quality classes” received higher scores than “eloquent professors” or “professors generous in giving high marks” in class evaluations of colleges. Students are those who recognize great teachers first.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com