Korean Education system as a Counterpart for France’s

So, let’s think about your school life. Did you love it? As an elementary student, what was your best experience? Or have you ever wondered about what would’ve happened if you have studied abroad in your early years? I may be able to give you the answer; see what your friends who is from another country. Do they look similar with you? Your answer here would probably be, “no”, because he or she have had perfectly different education from yours. If you had studied abroad, there must have been major differences in your behaviors or in your lifestyle, that’s for sure. In this world, education is the engine of each society; it’s the power to make it run. The more power it has, the farther we can move. Every country has its own engine. However is anyone of them perfect? The answer should be “NO”; nothing can be perfect in this world. Especially today I’d like to make a comparison between the education policies of Korea, and that of France. The education policies in Korea and France, both of them need to compensate their defects by learning from each other. Education is very important because it affects the human behaviors and determines overall social atmosphere, but neither of them is perfect; each has not only its own strengths but also own weaknesses too. Also I believe that the situation of Korea can suggest an answer to France and France can also learn a lot from Korea.

Then how does education affect the children? Let’s recall your childhood. When you were a child, you might have been taught home, your basic courtesy, or some of the fundamental social rules like cross the street when green light is on, and never when red light is. And then you went to the kindergarten or elementary school, which was when you first met ‘society’ outside home. You must’ve been tested a lot, and the education must have deepened. Your experience grew and your attitude changed as you learned from the school. And this, you were making your contribution to this society to exist as it had been while you were not aware of this. In fact, it is an undeniable fact that it’s the power of education that determines overall social atmosphere. Even the famous Aristotle and Plato said that the Education is the centre of moral fulfillment and the well-being of the society is affected by it. First of all, well-educated citizens perform better when they work. Outside of their work, people tend to participate eagerly in social activities.

For example, according to the OECD data (OECD, 2013), citizens from the countries with high level of education voted 15 percent more than those from which do not. Also the high-educated citizens showed more interest in volunteering, political interests, and social activities. Also, well educated people tend to be happier, having more interpersonal and institutional trust. This may lead to restraining social violence too. There is a word, “Mowgli Syndrome”. This is a word meaning someone who has been totally isolated from the society and raised in forest, and this is not a fantasy! There are some cases. For example, in 1920’s, two girls were found in forest in India, especially in a humid, dense cave where wolves lived. These two girls were rolling with a bunch of baby wolves, and it was quite obvious that they were raised by wolves. They seemed about 7 or 8 years old, and “rescued” right away. After they were “back” to the society, people really tried to raise them as two members of Indian society in orphanage. They were given new name, Amala and Kamala, and they were trained to act like normal children, but not only had they failed, but also the little girls had died young. Until the very last of her days, she couldn’t act properly for human society, showing intense aggression. Thanks to these cases people are learning about the importance of the education.

Then let’s check what our reality is like, in Korea. What’s our educational situation? Korea, and the other East Asian countries, has been recognized as the most successful countries in education field. And that is valid factor until like now, because Korean students get very high rate in international mathematics competitions. Since their childhood, Korean students are taught to be diligent and hard working. And as they are feeling kind of a strong bonding within friends, they become more us-related. This is, really, a marvelous character of Koreans’, and that’s how Korea became one of the most developed countries in the world in a very short time. Even President Barak Obama once announced that U.S. should follow the Korean Education model. What are the points? First of all, Koreans are very eager for education. Normally there is no failure until they finish the high school. Teachers lead every single pupil to graduation. And ceaseless test and evaluation support this. Also Korean school provides very vast range of learning, from linguistics to foreign language, from sociology to science. Whether they would take benefit from learning or not for the rest of life, students keep their studying. Thanks to that, Koreans have plenty of common sense, and very familiar with various categories of fields of study. However ironically, this is also pointed as the huge problem of Korea. Korean students, not knowing what they really want to do, should carry on hard work. Also just to make every student follow the class, most of the lessons rely on mnemonics, which means teachers talk in front of students and students have to learn by heart, and whether they understood or not is usually ignored. Also Koreans are lack of creativity or originality. Koreans focus so much on grade, especially for the studies to enter university, and never have time to cultivate those features. Too much obsessed with College entrance, they cannot afford to think or do anything else beside it. The parents are also fueling this tendency, pushing their children to go to better university, and to have better job.

Obama Praising Korean Education, Dong-A
Obama Praising Korean Education, Dong-A

How about other countries? Today I’d like to compare Korea with France. France’s education system is quite different from that of Korea. The basic rule is almost same; students learn, take exam, and get evaluation. Then what’s the difference? Here are some questions that you can see in French exams. Would Korean students be able to answer these?

  1. Does language betray thought?
  2. Is truth preferable to peace?
  3. Does power exist without violence?

French students are taught to be “talkative”. It’s doesn’t have any negative nuance. They are more likely to talk than any others about their own opinion. They focus so much on how to think, and how to express their thought. The schools teach more philosophy in class than Korea does, and this is not just the overall one, but is also a very particular philosophy that students chose their own: The science part, the linguistics part, and economics and sociology part. Also France prepared 2-year job school, which allows students to learn in advance about what they really want to do in their lives. Even the college entrance exam, usually called ‘Baccalaureat’ or simply ‘Bac’, provides different format for different students with diverse interest. It seems covering almost every part.


VideoClip ; http://movie.naver.com/movie/bi/mi/mediaView.nhn?code=50813&mid=12673#tab

But as there shall exist the shadow where the light is, French education system also has flaws. The lowering state of teachers will be number one. There is a movie about this situation, and the title is Entre les Murs, or The Class, is a movie showing a classroom in Paris, which is in a poor district. The teacher, Marin, wants to lead his pupils but everything starts to go wrong. Even one of the students finally confesses that she has no idea what she has learned in school. French education system usually concerns the students who participate well, and the others like her, who is not the ardent participant, would easily be ignored. And French students are a lot much in danger of failing classes.

So what if we put these two together and mix it up? In Korea, students have passion but no creation. In France, students are creative but they’re not that much willing to study. In Korea, we need to introduce a new system for students to think more and express what they think. And the College Scholastic Ability Test, should desert the dichotomic selection, and should be more diversified like France’s Baccalaureat, providing more choices for wannabe engineers or artists, carpenters, and so on. And the parents should liberate themselves from prejudices that one’s success can only be evaluated by their social status. And the French students should learn how to tolerate, to be more hard-working and less self-thinking. What we should remember is, nothing can be perfect in this imperfect world. So as the education system is. However everything can be better than ever, by learning from the others. There is plenty of room for everyone to be improved. Korea should learn from France’s case and France, also, should accept their flaws and ameliorate their current situation by learning from Korea’s strength.


Engelhart, K. (2013) French Students debate mandatory philosophy exam, Retrieved November 24, 2014 from http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/french-students-debate-mandatory-philosophy-exam/

Lee, M. (2012). 프랑스 교육제도의 문제점 발견, Retrieved November 4, 2014. from http://cluster1.cafe.daum.net/_c21_/bbs_search_read?grpid=1PjHK&fldid=5HhP&datanum=24&openArticle=true&docid=1PjHK5HhP2420120514165220

OECD. (2013). What are the social benefits of education?. Retrieved November 4, 2014 from http://www.oecd.org/education/skills-beyond-school/EDIF%202013–N%C2%B010%20(eng)–v9%20FINAL%20bis.pdf

Park, B. (2014). 던컨 美 교육장관 “한국은 교육 모범국가, 본받아야”, Retrieved November 4, 2014. from http://imnews.imbc.com/replay/2014/nwtoday/article/3403330_13495.html

Pestreich, E. (2012). 세계의 석학들, 한국의 미래를 말하다, Retrieved November 4, 2014. p.183-186

Wikipedia. (N./A.). 프랑스의 교육. Retrieved November 4, 2014 from http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%ED%94%84%EB%9E%91%EC%8A%A4%EC%9D%98_%EA%B5%90%EC%9C%A1#.EA.B5.90.EC.9C.A1.EC.A0.9C.EB.8F.84.EC.9D.98_.ED.8A.B9.EC.83.89


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