I remember when I was in high school, there was this “You know you’re Korean when…” list floating around and the one that caught my attention the most was the one that said, “you get a B on a test and have to look for a new home.” It always made me laugh, partly because there was some truth about that statement and the last thing that you wanted to be, even for me growing up with a white family, was the dumb Korean kid.
Yesterday after work I walked and talked a little ways with one of my fourth grade students. She’s one of the smartest students in my entire school and she is one of the sweetest and one of the most competitive. Earlier in class, she complained about being really tired and not having enough time to do stuff. I was teasing her about being tired and she replied that she went to bed at 1:30am. She’s 10 years old.
She was telling me during our walk that her mom has enrolled her in 8 HAGWONS (for those not familiar with the Korean school system, a hagwon is an after-school speciality school that Korean children are sent to to improve in a subject matter or social (climbing) skills) classes. She goes to a violin, piano, reading, English, math, science, drawing, and one other one that I forget. So the earliest that she gets home at night is 10:10 and by the time she finishes her school homework and her hagwon homework, it’s 1:30am. And she has to be at school by 8:40am.
She’s told me before that she especially hates going to her English hagwon, that she likes English class much better. She’s had talks with her mom about her 8 hagwon classes and how much she doesn’t like them, etc. and her mom has told her that she has to go and that’s the end of the story.
As a woman who would like to be married and have children one day (prefereably soon rather than later) and as a teacher, I understand trying to help your child get as far ahead as possible because public schools and the teachers can be hit and miss. But at the same time I can’t imagine forcing my child to take classes that last until 10:10 on a school night, especially if my child didn’t want to go.
When I am a mother, I’m know that my child will be going to CCE (Continuing Catholic Education or Catholic Catechism Education, I’ve heard both) classes and I’m pretty sure that I would enroll my child in a sports and a fine arts class. But to me enrolling my child in extracurricular activities like CCE or sports (not including golf swing classes) is a completely different story because they could help my child develop as a person and/or teach how to interact other children, especially from different backgrounds. This is of course said by a single woman without children.