Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Korea seems to be a country that loves tests. There are tests for almost everything imaginable. If you pass a test, you are officially qualified. Sometimes, qualification seems more important than actual ability, unfortunately.

I believe all this testing is something handed down from Confucian times, when almost all government positions were filled with individuals who had passed a test of learning. Often times, these days, the tests seem to be more of a test of one's test taking ability rather than an actual test of ones ability to apply any knowledge they may have learned.

Recently, there was a big scandal (more news here, here, and here if interested) concerning cheating on the national college entrance exam. The kids were using their cellular phones to pass around the answers. It is too bad the students felt they had to cheat. That is mainly a product of Korea's pursuit of status over substance. Seems if you go to a big name university, you are pretty much set for life, whether or not you actually learn anything at the university. Now the kids were wrong in what they did, but I think part of the blame for this particular episode should go to the proctors who were supposedly watching the students. Why would they even let them have their phones with them during the test. I suspect a lot of people were asleep on the job for this one.

One good thing that may come out of this is that those being tested may be a bit less inclined to cheat. Maybe they will put some of that energy into learning something rather than trying to figure out new ways to cheat.

There is another big test coming up this weekend. This one is for college graduates who want to be teachers. You need to pass the national exam to get a secure job teaching for the government. It as been a stress filled past couple of months for those individuals preparing for the test. I know a couple of people who will be taking the test. These are fairly representative of the candy, except the real thing doesn't have eyes and jump around.I wish them the best of luck. I know they will do well on the test, but the competition is very fierce and only the highest percentage are chosen each year. Traditionally one gives a test taker "yut" 엿 (a kind of hard taffy candy) to wish them good luck. I can't give you all 엿 in person, so let me give you some here. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you.

We must believe in luck. For how else can we explain the success of those we don't like?
- Jean Cocteau


At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please let me know the procedure of selecting officials and teachers in the states.


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