Tuesday, 08 July 2008

This is News

Stupidity in the news.

I’m in a slightly irritated mood today, regarding news, at least, and the news reports have been annoying me no end. I have to say that all the stories come from the Chusun Ilbo because they allow me to read through Google Reader. I do get South African feeds as well, but dint even get me started on that.

Let me start with an article that I found through Brian. In a Chosun Ilbo article “Korean-Language Proficiency Drops” last week, this was printed:

The proficiency of Koreans in their mother tongue seems to have declined in recent years as many take Korean-language education for granted and an obsession with learning English has seized the country.

So,erm, Korea is different from the rest of the world? I can’t remember a time when people haven’t complained about language proficiency in the mother tongue, be it the UK, the US, South Africa or Korea. Language is not a static thing. It is a communication tool. If you are communicating effectively, then what is the problem? I can understand if people are saying Communications Skills are going downhill, but Language Skills? Are these people saying they are using the same Korean as people 100 years ago?

The article goes on:

The Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation carried out a study of the results of the scholastic achievement tests of 20,945 third-year middle school students nationwide between 2004 and 2006. It shows that the percentage of students who received good or excellent marks in Korean fell from 14.1 percent in 2004 to 11 percent in 2006. On the other hand, those who received good or excellent grades in English rose from 18.6 to 20.5 percent over the period. The proportion who missed the minimum standard in Korean expected from a third-year middle school student increased from 4.4 percent in 2005 to 7.4 percent in 2006.

How do we know what student’s scores are when they are adjusted? If you are willing to change a student’s who deserves nothing less than 10% a 60% instead then how do you really know what the results are? Adjusted scores are almost meaningless, and for research they are not worth the paper they are printed on.

In 2001, the Korean Education Development Institute released a report on Korean adults’ reading comprehension and compared it with that of other OECD member countries. Korean adults scored 237.5 out of 500 points when tested on their ability to understand various documents such as those containing maps and charts, coming 18th out of 22 countries. Sweden came first with 305.6 points. Korea was also in the middle to lower ranks in comprehending newspaper editorials, poems and novels.

Again with the OEC! What is it with these people? Does the rest of the world not exist? And results from 2001 to talk about the situation today?

Is not understanding newspaper editorials any wonder? No one expects any critical thinking skill from students in this country. People and especially students are told what to think. PD Diary says something stupid and everyone says “We will comply.” I firmly believe that the language classes are a big part of this. Writing essays instead of picking the obvious answer from A, B, D or D alone might just allow students to think a little further than their noses. Doesn’t it amaze you that someone finishes school and then tells you they have NEVER written an essay of any kind?

In November last year, a survey of 330 human resources managers in Korean firms, conducted by employment website JobKorea, revealed that 59.7 percent were unhappy with the level of Korean proficiency of new employees, with 49.4 percent saying they are “not satisfied” and 10.3 percent saying “very unsatisfied.”

Well, let me see. Older people believing younger people’s language is not up to scratch. Imagine that. Younger people don’t have the same standards. What is the world coming to?

Experts say neglect of Chinese characters education in the school curriculum is one of the major reasons behind this. Because 70 percent of Korean vocabulary is made of the combination of Chinese characters, they claim the study of Chinese characters is essential for middle and high school education. However, as English loomed ever larger and Chinese characters began to be branded as arcane, its importance in school curricula dwindled. Prof. Lee Jong-mook of the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Seoul National University said, “The fundamental remedy would be to strengthen Chinese characters education in the school curriculum, and to help children develop reading skills by studying the classics from adolescence.”

I don’t get it. Does this mean that English speaker should now start studying German to understand the structure of English and French to get a vocabulary? Wait, Korean doesn’t use the same structure as Chinese, so along those lines French should be enough for English Speakers to improve their language because it seems that vocabulary IS language.

Centuries later and they still can’t let go of a language they never use? Amazing! Are you Korean or Chinese?

Lack of time committed to reading also contributes to dwindling Korean proficiency. According to statistics on Koreans’ reading habits released by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism last year, adults managed to read only one book per month, and one in four did not read books at all.

Lack of time committed? And when are people supposed to read? A love for reading normally starts at school level. Granted, I only really got in to reading once I started taking the bus to work, but I still developed the love in school. Over here you leave school to go to a hagwon, go home to your bed and wake up to go to school. When do they expect students to read? Further more, if reading more does not have anything to do with the Entrance Exam, then the system will ignore it. Why don’t we hear anyone complain about how the system is screwing itself? Oh, because it is the way things work in Korea. It is Korean style. Well, skattebol, Korean Style comes with Korean Style results.


In an article in the Korean times entitled “Christians Denounce TV Program for Humanizing Jesus

The CCK said: “What the program is trying to say could shake many people's beliefs. It is a violation of individual’s rights to have freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.” The group reportedly tried to cancel the show.

Otto says: “What?!”

State says: "Oh, that's no problem at all. We won't violate your individual rights any more. From now on Buddhism is the only religion allowed in Korea. Hope you don't mind too much."


Also in the Chosun Ilbo also reports that “Soju Makes Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

And? Who cares except Koreans? Is it really that strange that the name of a product that should be there in any case have been included? Imagine Scotland suggesting it is news that Whiskey is now on the dictionary. Then again, they might just do that. Apparently Soju is “a Korean vodka distilled from rice.” Vodka? Are these people morons? Do they even know what vodka is? Have they ever heard of the words like and spirits. Oh well, at least the article is not about the fools who are still protesting the US beef but still eating dirty Korean beef. (I wonder if pap can be found in the dictionary?)


Again, Chosun Ilbo asks: “Should Subordinates Take the Blame?” The article is about the president who replaced members of the cabinet because of recent events in the country. The fool makes decisions without listening to anyone and then fires other people to make it look as if it was not his fault? Is he so blind to the world that he thinks this will work, or are Koreans actually that gullible to believe this?


Dunk said...

"The fool makes decisions without listening to anyone and then fires other people to make it look as if it was not his fault? "

I dunno, ministers taking the fall for botched policies is the usual thing all over the world. Korea has a presidential system, not a parliamentary one, anyways, so impeachment or impending impeachment are the only ways the president leaving has ever been seen to happen. Dick Nixon is the only example that even comes to mind here.

I think, and I believe the general consensus around the world is, that firing your ministers for disasters is a sign of accountability, not irresponsibility as you say. It encourages other and future ministers to take problems in their area seriously. One of the many criticisms of President Bush is that he refused to fire Rumsfield until long, long after it became apparent that the situation in Iraq had become a debacle.

Otto Silver said...

I take your point and I have no problem with accountability.

Lee, however is well known for doing what he wants no matter what others say. After his first 100 days he already has quite an impressive list of stupid things that he did and said himself. Beef, despite the protests, a canal through Korea and offering Dokdo to Japan. His people didn't want any of this and said so loudly, but did that stop him? Well, yes, but what did it take?

I might be ill informed, but up to now I have never actually seen a minister mentioned regarding the Beef. Every time the Beef is mentioned it says that Lee is responsible for the deal. Even if he wasn't negotiating himself he would still have been the authority behind it all, would he not?

I'm not saying he should resign. I am not even saying some ministers shouldn't be fired. I am saying that trying to divert the attention from himself should not be done in this way. Stupid as the whole Beef situation is, he should still have dealt with it much better and admit it instead of blaming others.