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Sunday, October 3

Korean vs. Japanese teachers

I suspect that Japanese school teachers lead more stressful lives than their Korean counterparts. Here's why:
1. Teachers in Japan must pay a visit to the homes of each and every student in their homeroom class. This practice was stopped in Korea a couple decades ago.
2. All school employees in Korea go home between 4:30 and 5:00, whereas in Japan, teachers normally stay long after the official quitting time. (I got kicked out of the building last week by the building manager at 5:10.) Many of these teachers must stay late because...
3. Japanese schools have after-school club activities that are headed by teachers. Korean schools have virtually no extracurricular activities. Many students go to hagwons, or private academies, after school to study specific subjects.
3a. Club activities may start before vacation periods end, thus cutting short the vacations of many teachers.
4. Teachers in Korea don't have to oversee lunchtime operations since everyone eats in the school cafeteria. (In Japan, 3 or 4 students in each class are given the responsibility of bringing the food to the classroom, serving the students and cleaning up.)
5. In Japan, public school teachers are frequently transferred to other schools in the prefecture. Likewise, Korean teachers must cope with life-disrupting transfers. But unlike in Japan, where one may have to move to a school clear across the prefecture, teachers here in Korea can be relatively sure that a transfer will place them a commutable distance from their current location.

Teachers in Korea, however, do still have to teach on Saturdays. And from looking through the English textbooks, it seems that teachers here have to cover a lot more material in a year.

All this is based on nothing more than what I've seen as an outsider looking in, so I'm sure there must be many other ways in which teachers in Korea find work to be stressful. I don't know yet if they have parents day here.

I did hear that the home visits were discontinued because they were too much of a hassle for the parents, not the teachers. For a similar reason--to reduce the burden shouldered by the guests--Korean wedding ceremonies have been vastly simplified from the traditional format. In Japan, each guest has to shell out $200-$300 at the door, resulting in the coining of the word 寿貧乏 (kotobuki binbo), which means to spend all your money to attend a large number of weddings in a short period of time.


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