Tuesday, February 13, 2007

the survey question

I've been conducting the final exams for my freshman girls as brief interviews, and have been slipping in a question that has produced some interesting answers. The question? "Compare the types of projects you've done in this class to what you usually do in high school." (NB: Keep in mind that these girls aren't college freshmen quite yet-- they're early-acceptance high school seniors.)

Out of thirty students, only three have said that they have done anything similar to the group activities that dominated my curriculum. The rest have given some version of the following answer:

We don't usually do this sort of project. Our teachers think that, when we work in groups, it's hard to know who is doing what amount of work. So we usually do individual projects, and they're not "active." Projects, for us, usually mean doing a lot of research by ourselves on the internet. Maybe we discuss our projects a bit in class, but not much. Mostly we just have to listen to the teacher, take notes, and that's all.

The above isn't exactly news to expat teachers, but it's still somewhat disconcerting to encounter student after student saying the same thing. It's even more disheartening when you realize that these girls all come from different high schools, and are therefore independently confirming the sorry state of high school education in Korea. On the plus side, it's great to be part of a team that is introducing these students to a very different way of approaching learning. Whether they truly develop a love of learning will, of course, be up to them.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have the sad feeling that you'd get similar results back here in the States. Or worse--possibly more like "Projects? We don't do projects." At least here in California, the influence of NCLB and the state curriculum standards and district testing on top of state testing is having, shall we say, a damping effect on creative teaching.