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Special Article A Wholehearted Letter from the Superintendent

Superintendent Cho Heeyeon’s Blueprint for Education in Seoul

To 2019, the Year of the Golden Pig

We only have one month left before the end of 2018. While concluding a year is very important, planning for a new year is equally crucial, if not more. Education in Seoul has entered phase 2 of Seoul Innovative Future-Oriented Education, which is aimed at bringing an even brighter future for education in Seoul. Let’s hear directly from superintendent Cho Heeyeon about the blueprint for education in Seoul.

Written by Cho Heeyeon, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education

Toward Innovative Future-Oriented Education to Foster Creative Democratic Citizens

Greetings. It is a great privilege to have the chance to talk to the citizens of Seoul about education in Seoul. Last October, when the beautiful colors of autumn painted the city, we hung on the wall of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education a placard saying, “The more diverse we are, the more beautiful the world gets.” The phrase is reflective of the second phase of education in Seoul, which pursues diversity and originality, and its foundation.

As the superintendent of education in our capital city, I would like to take this opportunity to assure you all that I will do my utmost to make further progress in terms of innovative future-oriented education during my second term on the basis of the educational policy accomplishments that have been achieved over the past four years under the banner of “consistent innovation, quiet changes.”

I will make sure that students, our future hope, will grow into democratic citizens through Seoul’s positive learning environment and that schools will be reborn as lively spaces that nurture students’ dreams and friendships rather than being simple learning spaces.

During my second term, under the value of “innovative future-oriented education to foster creative democratic citizens,” the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education will purse “new diversity education,” “new creative education” and “responsible education for social equity.”

“New Diversity Education” refers to an education that cherishes each student instead of focusing on the education of the high performers in class. Our schools now have far more diverse students than ever before. Diversity includes disabilities, nationalities, races, religions, and even differences in learning ability. To reach such diversity, we must provide our students with individualized, custom-made education programs.

“New Creativity Education” refers to an education focused on “creative intelligence and emotional wellbeing” rather than rote memorization. I will ensure that students will be able to develop their critical thinking skills at school rather than simply learn formulas and grammar by nurturing the joy of learning within students and facilitating their self-directed learning.

“Responsible Education for Social Equity” pursues justifiable discrimination. Whenever possible, I have reiterated, “Though people are born in different homes, they must all receive the same education.” I will do my best to safeguard the public character of education and provide responsible education that unlocks each student’s potential so that not a single student will be left behind in our places of learning.

I will ensure that such direction within the second phase of education in Seoul will actually be realized in schools and classrooms instead of remaining as mere slogans and declarations.

I have always believed that the essence of education such as curricula, classes and evaluation must be the beginning and the end of innovation policies. Innovation of education in Seoul ends up being an innovation in the curriculum, classes and evaluation of schools and classrooms according to the growth and development stages of our students, and therefore, I will pursue practical changes in school education and continue to promote student-centered class innovation thanks to a curriculum created by educational communities.

The key players in class innovation are teachers, and so, I will strive to ratchet up teachers’ professional qualifications and their pride in serving as teachers. I will continue to support the “teacher community’s competency building effort,” a project chosen through a public contest designed to promote autonomy in school management. I will also expand opportunities for teachers to take time off, including sabbaticals, for soul-searching and recharging.

With the Attitude of “Only Students, Only Education”

I never forget the fact that I am “the citizens’ superintendent,” voted to the post by the citizens of the city of Seoul. To meet the citizens’ requests and expectations about education in Seoul, I will spare no effort to establish the foundation for innovative future-oriented education in Seoul under the philosophy of “Make It New, Make It Newer” every day and upgrade the quality of public education in the city. I will also pay close attention to the qualitative improvement of innovation schools in the city, a new school model that takes the lead in promoting future-oriented education and school autonomy, with the ultimate goal of accomplishing a win-win growth of innovation schools and ordinary schools through the generalization of the performances of innovation schools.

Moreover, I will consistently strive to increase our support for schools during phase 2, following the efforts we made during phase 1 in various areas such as school safety policies, learner autonomy activities, parental involvement in schools, justifiable discrimination realization policies, global citizenship education, school autonomy promotion, and school innovation dissemination.

It is my personal conviction that the ultimate goal of educational autonomy should be the realization of autonomy in schools. To that end, we must realize Innovative Future-Oriented Education as specified in our plan for phase 2, while establishing various systems required to complete our field-centered democratic administrative innovations, for which I will carry out organizational restructuring of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and in the district offices of education in the city. Furthermore, I will actively implement policies required to promote compassionate and righteous education in Seoul by enhancing the public character of education and the accountability of educational facilities.

Just as the past first four years, I will not get distracted by daily ups and downs for another four years and I will find solutions to various issues on the ground under the banner of “Only Students, Only Education.” I promise to completely realize Innovative Future-Oriented Education as mandated by the citizens of Seoul.

We only have one month left of 2018, the year of the dog, before welcoming 2019, the year of the pig. Most notably, 2019 is the year of the golden pig since it is a “gihae” year (“gi,” in the ten celestial stems, means yellow and “hae” means pig), one known to be particularly lucky to everyone. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and I will continue to work tirelessly in 2019 so that 2019 will truly be a lucky year to all of those working for schools and educational communities in the city. I wish you all great health and happiness in 2019. Thank you.

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