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[Opinion] The Power of Teachers

Posted May. 15, 2007 07:58,   


Approximately 1,000 phone calls are made to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education by people asking for the phone number of teachers who taught them during school days. In May alone, the number of phone calls goes up to 50 or 60 a day because many want to convey a sense of gratitude to who they were taught by a long time ago. This large number of phone calls sends a positive message that there are still many teachers who try to do their best for students.

Kyung-il Girls’ High School in Daegu is not located in a wealthy neighborhood. Student academic performances when they enter the school are lower than that of other schools, which is mainly caused by the financial situation many students face. Teachers, however, put a lot of effort into teaching students to help them enter high-quality universities. Last year, 13 students were admitted to Seoul National University and this year the number stood at five. When compared with other girls’ high schools, it ranked the highest in the country last year. This shows the education can, indeed, change the world. It is the brand of custom-made education devised by teachers there that has driven this success.

Haeryong High School in Jeonnam has become well known nationwide. Dozens of teachers from around the nation visit the school to benchmark what its teachers have been doing. Located far from cramming schools in big cities, students of this school have no access to private education. The passion of teachers was what helped enhance the competitiveness of the school. It was not so long ago when the students left for neighboring cities or Seoul in search of private institutes, but the situation has been reversed, and students from big cities come to learn at this school.

These are not the only schools where teachers are working hard for their students. Teachers who take responsibility for what they do are not too difficult to find. It is one thing to say that you care about students; it is quite another to put the words into action, and the teachers like this must have mixed feelings on this Teachers’ Day. Concerns of gifts and bribes have led schools to close for the day, and the suggestion of moving the day to the end of semester is in the air. Students, however, can certainly identify good teachers, always remember them, and visit them some day in the future. Today is the day we give flowers to these teachers as a token of our gratitude.

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