Students learn from Korean visitKorean educators came to Bakersfield to learn about Internet teaching but also ended up teaching the students they visited about how Korea's education system works. It all came about when approximately 35 educators from the Republic of Korea Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development visited the Kelly F. Blanton Student Education Center, operated by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, on July 29.
Pupils at Blanton are at-risk students who take part in Alternative Education, combining court and community school classes that improve student safety, encourage learning, reduce classroom disruption and significantly reduce Kern County's dropout rate. The Korean visitors were particularly interested with Community Learning Center Tech (CLC Tech), where a component of student learning is a hands-on curriculum concentrated on broadcast and computer technology.
According to tour manager Jayson Jeon, "Korean families pay much for outside education and are interested in exploring the concept of Internet teaching as a way of minimizing costs. During their senior year of high school, many students go to school from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. for very intensive study preparing them to take the university entrance exam."
During the CLC Tech tour, educators observed a student editing a computer video project, watched a video public affairs program produced by students, witnessed audio recording techniques produced in a lab, saw how students were learning to rebuild used computers and looked in on students in a computer classroom using Internet learning.
"All the computers you see in this classroom were built by students," CLC Tech Principal Randy Schultz told the visitors.
One Korean educator, apparently amazed by the depth of resources provided to insure student success, asked, "What happens to students who don't make it here?"
Schultz responded, "There are other alternative schools within the system where they can be re-located to find a fit that works for them. We like to hang onto our students because we want to see them succeed."
Later, the entourage moved into a history classroom where a group discussion was in progress. A surprised member of the touring group asked, "In these discussion classes, do the students always participate as much as this?"
"Yes," came the reply, which triggered a barrage of questions from the students curious to find out about Korean education.
"What are Korean classrooms like and how are the students taught?" asked one student.
"Each classroom is about 70 square meters with educational programming provided on TVs," said interpreter Jeehyun Chang, an assistant researcher with the Korea Education and Research Information Service. "In junior high, the average class size is about 35 students and between 30-32 in high school. There are books in every classroom. Students don't rotate to classes, though. Teachers do. Students stay in the same classroom all day."
Another student asked, "In Korea, do you learn about America?"
"Yes," said Chang. "In world history classes there is a certain amount of curriculum devoted to American history."
"Do you have discussion classes in Korea?" another student inquired
"Sometimes, but the teaching in high school is concentrated very heavily on preparing students to take the university entrance exam. That doesn't leave much time for discussion in class."
The tour moved on to one final stop, a sit down discussion with Schultz, Student Services Administrator Ken Taylor and Blanton Principal Janice Barricklow, where a more detailed exchange of ideas about Internet teaching occurred. When it concluded, the Korean visitors boarded a bus to Los Angeles from where they will continue their 11-day tour of educational sites in New York, Boston, Montreal and Washington, D.C. Bakersfield was their first stop.
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