Ye Olde Chosun reports that behind violent and rude students, you’ll often find violent and senseless parents, and that violence against teachers by school parents is growing serious. You now have parents visiting schools to beat up teachers who admonish their children and parents who conduct background investigations into the personal lives of teachers to harass and threaten them, even if teachers say most parents respect teachers and actively cooperate with them for their children’s education.
In one high school in Seoul, Teacher A made a girl stand in the back of the class for 10 minutes for not doing a performance assessment. The next day, the girl’s dad came to the school and found Teacher A in the staff room. He suggested the two go somewhere quiet to talk. They went into an empty room, where the dad suddenly locked the door and began beating the teacher with his umbrella, angrily telling the teacher there was no reason to punish his daughter as the performance assessment was not important. The teacher banged on the wall, and his fellow teachers next door came in and rescued him.
There are reportedly countless incidents of parents protesting to teachers or threatening to file complaints with the education departments or Cheong Wa Dae over slight things.
In March, the parents and grandmother of a girl visited the staff room of a middle school in Daejeon. The previous day, the head disciplinarian of the school wrote the girl up for hitting another student. The girl’s family “mobilized.” The protested—in the staff room, mind you—that the girl had fought with another girl but the teacher had given only their daughter a write-up. They demanded that the head disciplinarian apologize to their daughter in front of the students.
For an English teacher at a middle school in the education-mad Gangnam district, test time almost drives him neurotic. After midterms last year, he got a call from a parent who insisted that an answer her child had given was correct. The parent, who lived three years in the United States, swore at the teacher, telling him that the child’s answer was something Americans sometimes say, too, and that a teacher who had neither lived in America nor knew this well should not be giving grades.
The teacher said that in areas where there’s a lot of educational competition (like Gangnam), there are a lot of parents with high educational backgrounds, and that they sometimes use their knowledge or positions to disrespect or threaten teachers. The teacher said he didn’t hope to be respected like teachers in the past, but just wanted to have his basic human rights respected.
At an elementary school in Incheon, a teacher made a fourth-grade student stand for a couple of minutes for seriously making noise and playing around in class. The next day, the child’s parents threatened the teacher, accusing the teacher of acting high-handedly for nothing. They called him a “gangster teacher,” and said if he didn’t write a self-reflection letter, they would take legal action.
Marmot’s Note: In case you haven’t been reading the papers over the last year, the conservative press is unhappy with what they see as the breakdown of order in the Korean classroom, and really unhappy about progressive Seoul school superintendent Kwak No-hyun’s push to boost students’ “human rights” (it’s a shame they don’t translate what the protest banner in the photo actually says, namely, that the students human rights ordinance would make elementary school students gay), including a ban on corporal punishment.