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School CP - September 2010

Corpun file 22501

Joong Ang Daily, Seoul, 1 September 2010

Corporal punishment: 'sudden end'

By Christine Kim

Click to enlarge

Seoul education superintendent Kwak No-hyun said yesterday that all corporal punishment will be banned in schools in Seoul starting this semester, "although it may come as a sudden change for those in education."

Critics of the ban say alternative methods of punishment must be researched further before corporal punishment is banned. But the liberal superintendent said yesterday during a forum at the Seoul Press Center that the position is a "lazy" response.

Before Kwak's speech, the Education Ministry offered revisions to punishment regulations, including adding alternative punishment, but it did not have a timeline for instituting the changes.

"If the direction is right, then we should make our best efforts to head in that direction," said Kwak. "I want to ask what we have done to end corporal punishment," he added. "Supporting corporal punishment does not go along with this generation's state of mind.

"It brought me great distress when I saw children go on as if nothing happened when cases like 'Oh Jang-pung' broke out," Kwak said, referring to the 52-year-old sixth-grade teacher surnamed Oh who was handed heavy disciplinary punishment by the Education Ministry in early August after a video of the teacher beating a student in his classroom went viral on the Internet.

The teacher is facing possible criminal charges for allegedly using excessive force on students in his classroom on a regular basis, with parents of the students taking legal action.

Oh received the nickname "jang pung" -- a Korean word for the martial arts skill of creating a strong blow of air with your hands -- from students because "he could knock down students to the ground with just one swing of his hand."

"I was very surprised that the students studied in the classroom and talked among each other in the classroom complacently even after they had witnessed their classmates getting beaten to the point of assault. To set an example, I will come up with substitute punishments and [disciplinary] programs for students," Kwak said.

Kwak had said in July that he was planning to ban corporal punishment in schools, which sparked a flurry of arguments between those who were for the ban and conservative schools and parents who felt it was not the time to keep their children away from the cane.

The superintendent also spoke his mind yesterday on current education in Seoul and reconfirmed the policies he has been pushing since he came into office in July, including reformed teacher assessments and free lunches, which he said "should come from state funds."

Copyright by JoongAng Ilbo

Corpun file 23065


The Korea Times, Seoul, 29 September 2010

Top educator in Busan backs corporal punishment

By Kang Shin-who

Lim Hea-kyung

BUSAN -- A campaign to ban corporal punishment at schools is gaining support in the Seoul area, but the top educator in the southeastern port city of Busan thinks differently.

Unlike schools in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province that are revising rules to prevent teachers from physically disciplining students, schools here will keep them intact, allowing corporal punishment for educational purposes.

"Banning corporal punishment abruptly means teachers will be stripped of tools to control unruly students. I think we still need the 'rod of love' in classroom," said Lim Hea-kyung, superintendent of the Busan Metropolitan City of Education, in an interview with The Korea Times.

"Children sometimes do wrong and are smacked, that's the way they grow up."

The life-long educator said a complete ban on corporal punishment should be introduced after other alternative and more efficient methods of discipline are instituted.

"Teachers face a moment when they have to physically discipline students. I think it's too early to completely ban corporal punishment," she added.

The first female superintendent, elected by citizens, also expressed concerns over alternative programs designed to replace physical punishment, such as community service.

"I disagree with the idea of pushing problematic students to perform community services that should be done with a volunteer mindset," she said.

Click to enlarge

But the top educator made it clear that teachers should not insult students when they give them any form of physical punishment.

Under the current Education Law, teachers are supposed to refrain from physically punishing pupils but it leaves room for "exceptional cases for educational purposes."

On students' rights to choose hairstyle and clothing, Lim is quite flexible, saying students need to be given more freedom.

But she was firm that teachers should not let students sleep during class.

Many students who study late into the night at private cram schools or hagwon tend to fall asleep during classes at school.

Lim said the education office will order schools to take steps to wake sleeping students in classrooms and help them perform better academically.

She stressed that parents, students and teachers should all change in order to reduce private education costs.

"Parents should know hagwon don't help their children that much and realize it is a waste of money. I will ask parents not to be anxious about their children and just wait for changes in our schools," she said.

"I will ask each school's principal to keep all students awake. Sleeping students will be removed from classrooms."

She said teachers should be more competitive among other things.

"They should be ready for evaluations at any time and keep studying to enable them to teach better."

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