This semester, Ewha has cut down its liberal arts courses of the sports department to just three - golf, swimming and tennis. The wide variety of sports once open to all students including squash, new sports, yacht and badminton have been cut from the curriculum entirely.
For Ewha, an institution that pioneered sports education in Korea with the belief that without physical well-being and education, mental maturity could not be achieved, this is a definite regression. Back to when? Possibly back to the early 1900s. In as early as 1920, Ewha provided its students with liberal arts courses for volleyball, baseball, skating, track and gymnastics. In fact, for most of the previous century, up to the 1990s, liberal arts sports courses where students learned sports like swimming or softball was a graduation requisite for all students.
Despite its passion for physical education in the earlier years of Ewha, the school has gradually eliminated these mandatory physical education courses. The popular opinion among educators seems to be that sports education need not be a requisite. They say that university is a place for higher level education, and is not responsible for supporting an individual’s experimentational hobbies.
However, physical education is vital in the establishment of a strong individual. Not only is it essential for a healthy body, but also for a disciplined mind. Training the body requires one to constantly venture out of their comfort zone, agitating the individual both mentally and physically. It is in this process where people who have trained in sports come to learn how to push themselves forward through challenging times.
This is precisely the reason why an institution of higher education such as Ewha should keep physical education as an available option to its students. Because is not higher education about venturing into the depths of an unknown field? And if the pioneer does not know how to manage themselves through depressing obstacles, how will they explore the vast unknown? By teaching students how to challenge themselves and push forth, we can ensure that in their lives past Ewha, students will be able to continue to challenge themselves and advance to pursue greater achievements in life.
In a society where sports education continues to be undermined and discredited, it is the school's job to enforce it among students and allow them the opportunity to acquire these skills through sports.
Last year, the Ewha community proved to be high achievers. We stood up against political power and took measures to reconstruct Ewha in accordance to our own principles and values. We fought back against wrong with persistence and grace.
Similarly, we should let our innate principles and values, history and wisdom dictate the education we provide for our students, the future leaders of Korea.