“Odyssey School” is an alternative one-year education program for students going from middle to high school.
A year at the Odyssey School is more than just a school year, but seen as a ‘journey of self-discovery.’ The school was widely known among parents that it is similar to universities’ leave of absence policy.
Being confused and having enough time to stop and think about oneself is necessary for one’s growth. In order to reflect oneself, it is crucial to challenge oneself by doing things that one has not done before, and become confused to find an answer. However, the educational system in Korea had not allowed students to such have time for reflection. Students who are not quick and smart enough to follow their teachers often think themselves as useless. However, what these students needed was one opportunity to stop and think about oneself. The Odyssey School is regarded as the first-ever attempt of such, and is now getting positive responses from students and parents.
There are one million university students who are taking a leave of absence, which accounts for nearly 30 percent all students, according to Ministry of Education. Their primary reason other than enlistment was to keep up with their “specs,” which shows that students are no longer choosing to take a leave to rest, or have time of reflection.
Some people argue that having leave of absences for a long period delays young people’s entry into society, hindering economic development. However, is it just the problem of students taking a leave of absence? Shouldn’t we turn our attention to the factors in our society that push university students to choose to do so?
Korea’s secondary education which is infamous for test-driven, insanely fast-paced schools, is now seeing a small sign of reform from the Odyssey School. On the other hand, in spite of the fact that universities have a statutory policy for a leave of absence, higher education in Korea is forcing students to fit themselves into the competitive society. It is no longer the problem of crating a policy or encouraging students to take a time of reflection, but is a problem of reforming our society.