After the Scholastic Ability Test (SAT) has been taken, the time of a students' worries, choices, irritability and newness will have come to a close. Although they may worry about the future, they are generally excited about what they will study in a new environment of a university, who they will meet, and what they can experience as university students. But ironically, Korea's university students are undergoing identity confusion about what is the purpose of going to a university and why should they go. Recently, this condition has been intensified because of the recent serious unemployment crisis. Currently, many students are dropping out and regretting being admitted and starting school at a university.
This leads to the question, why do they have identity confusion about going to a university and studying? The fundamental problem is that the Korean education system is memory-based education. The Korean education system has changed and developed in a very short time. In order for students to survive and pass through the education system, they choose to memorize rather than grasping concepts. Also, due to the prevailing Confucian ideology in our society, we haven’t built an unconstrained atmosphere of debate. Students who are accustomed to this educational system often struggle when they are faced with the tasks of studying for themselves, figuring out what their learning method is, and deciding what they really want to study. These challenges cause them confusion in their identity as a student in a university.
Korean memory-based education has experienced much criticism. One bad outcome from this kind of education system is it cultivated Hitler and a society that could be taken advantage of. Germany also had a memory-based education system until the fall of the Nazis. However, after they suffered by the hands of Hitler, Germany realized how harsh their education system was for generating biases and consequently they completely changed and overhauled their education system. The German government banned private education like home-schooling and each state created a training program with the Ministry of Education to provide an educational system that takes into consideration the individual's tendencies and career paths.
Also, in Germany’s public education, they have created enough of a communication environment to allow the teacher, parent and student to decide whether or not the student will go straight to work or go to a university. They make this decision when the child is eleven years which is when they begin middle school. Students who decide to enter the workforce rather than get a university education are taught skills in a course directly by a meister, a skilled technician. In this course, those students must study details and a comprehensive range of studies. They also learn a skill which is needed in society. The students who decide to attend a university deeply study the academic field they want to study, establish their identity through professors, discussions and criticism, and contribute to the development of their education. Furthermore, they meet a variety of social members and understand the society in which they live. This helps them realize why they need to be learning as a member and for the benefit of society.
For these students, the German government is putting practical efforts in implementing the tuition free program BAFOG, a financial program supported by the German government for university students, giving many opportunities for various experiences, and providing material support for students' start-ups, so as not to give up their studies for economic reasons. Germany has transformed into an autonomous education that takes into account individual characteristics and creativity and has become the benchmark for many countries. In the case of Germany, which has built a new education system after a memory-based education, we can see that the educational system in Korea also needs to be changed a lot.
Our society established a memory based education system in a short time and combined with Confucian thought influence, discussion and criticism between professor and student are hindered. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a long-term educational improvement program suitable for our society. We need to strive to create an environment in which free discussion and criticism can be created by forming horizontal relations between professors and students rather than vertical relationships.
Additionally, the government should provide educational opportunities for students to understand their characteristics and abilities. A reason why students experience confusion in their identity is that they do not have enough time to think about what do they want to study, what job do they want and even what they like. If they have time to think about themselves, they would be less likely to be confused about their identity and less critical about the importance of learning. Finally, society’s awareness of the need to improve our education system needs to grow. Our society is still being hurt by the superpowers. The older generation regarded education as a means of social advancement, but learning should not be a means of anything other than 'learning' itself. It is important to remember that universities are a place for not only studying but to also gain true learning. They are small communities that work to create a better society.