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School is Fun! Night Self-Study is Fun!

Posted April. 09, 2007 07:17,   


At 8 p.m. on Sunday, the students of Young-il High School were absorbed in a night self-study period. What is interesting about Young-il High School’s night self-study period? The answer is Q&A rooms, each made for different grades. On doors read signs that say, “Welcome, this room is always open during the night self-study period. Sometimes, even easy questions can give you a hard time.” On the night Dong-A visited, the rooms were packed with students asking questions.

In the Q&A room for second year students, Kwak Dae-yong, a 44-year-old Korean language teacher, was surrounded by ten or more eager students throwing questions at him. During the night self-study period, which lasts until 11 p.m., students constantly knock on Q&A room doors to ask questions on subjects ranging from Korean language, English, and mathematics to science.

Kim Da-hye, a student in her second year, says, “Teachers in the classroom transform into private tutors during this period.” According to Kwak, the Q&A rooms become even more popular during exam periods. The teacher confided, “Although it is challenging to deal with all the inquisitive students, I am proud of my students who are very eager to learn.”

Young-il High School introduced an afterschool program where students can select an extra course offered by the teachers from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Courses that fail to attract enough number of students are closed for the term.

Founded in 1979, Young-il High School was first designed to fulfill the needs of both the students wishing to continue studying and those hoping to work after graduation. It was not considered a mainstream high school in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province (Gyeongsangbuk-do). However, things changed for Young-il 20 years ago. As the school changed its status to receive only students wishing to continue studying, the school started to build its current reputation as a high school with an outstanding record in sending its students to universities.

Among this year’s 276 graduates, 273 have enrolled in universities that offer regular four-year courses of study. In particular, 132 entered universities in the Seoul area, where the competition for admission is relatively tougher than schools in other regions. The number includes students enrolling in the nation’s top three universities: three in Seoul National University, and ten in Korea University and Yonsei University combined. This outstanding achievement was unimaginable a decade ago when only eight made it to universities in Seoul and its vicinities.

School reaching out to the world-

What made Young-il’s phenomenal performance possible? Principal Choi Sang-ha shared the secret. “If students cannot enjoy their school life, they won’t be able to stand the long hours of studying that begin early in the morning and late into the night.” So the secret is fun. This is what keeps the students and school going.

All the 280 first year students at Young-il High School learn to play at least one instrument among the saxophone, flute and clarinet. Everyone is required to take regular aerobics exercises and school assembly usually ends with some form of physical exercise. In January, just two months before school began, 57 teachers on Young-il’s faculty organized a “Fun Festival” in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province. The festival was organized to come up with new ideas to make schools more fun for the students.

Young-il High School students also experience the world. Every quarter, world renowned scholars and figures are invited to “Young-il Academy” to give special lectures to the students. Last June, William Boyd, professor of education and chair of Pennsylvania State University gave a lecture on how to succeed in the information knowledge era. In April, 2005 when the dispute over the territorial rights of Dokdo islets between Korea and Japan intensified, 280 second-year students went on a school trip to Kyoto, Japan to display a large placard that read, “Dokdo belongs to Korea!”

On Wednesday, five students will visit Seoul to attend a special lecture of the Roger D. Kornberg, 2006 Novel Laureate in Chemistry held in Konkuk University. The expense will be completely covered by the school.