Individuality is often ignored in Korea. From their younger years, Korean people are mostly taught by rote and do not have enough time to think of themselves or share their opinions with others. They do not thoroughly expand their ideas about a certain topic and merely accept what is written in textbooks. In this kind of a society, people who act or think a little differently are subject to strange looks. They are not allowed the freedom to express their own individuality.
This continues in university life where students listen to what professors say and try to memorize them for exams. Thus, students become reluctant to express themselves freely in public and do not present many unique ideas they have in mind.
Many students claim that they should put their opinions aside and write answers based on professor’s opinions rather than to express their own. This is because an answer deviated from the standards of the professor is more likely to be regarded as the “correct” answer. This does not seem to help students develop their critical thinking in the long run. For example, one international student in Ewha said that the scope of accepting one’s opinion is very small in Korea and was curious as to why individual opinion is not regarded as “correct.” Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, but at least the answer given should be respected as her or his opinion. In her point of view, this is restricting student’s capability and brings no advance in studying.
I believe that this phenomenon is a product of the grading system in Korean universities. Where only a certain percentage of a letter grade is allocated to a certain number of people, it is hard to see everyone’s idea as a right answer. This might have led to the consequence of excluding students’ opinion and trying to be as similar to what books or professors say.
Everyone’s idea is different and getting good grades may not always mean that the student has her or his definite opinion towards the issue or brilliant thinking skills. The Korean society should head to a more tolerant and accepting society. In this way, Korean people would be able to expand their perspectives and think outside of the box. Also, they would be better able to listen to others’ opinion.
It is the time to reconsider what we can do to improve the university education system and pursue the true goal of studying.