AKS’s Understanding Korea Project Division hosted the “2020 Understanding Korea Project for International School Educators” seminar on Thursday, November 12, 2020.
This seminar was held to enhance the understanding and awareness of Korea related topics among teachers in international schools (including foreign educational institutions) in Korea. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, presenters and discussants from international schools in Korea participated in person while other teachers joined through an online platform (Zoom).
The seminar began with opening remarks from Director Younggi Ham (National Curriculum Policy Division, Ministry of Education) and welcoming remarks from Director Yoonghee Jo (Center for International Affairs, AKS). Wonsuk Chang, head of AKS’s Understanding Korea Project Division, moderated the seminar which included presentations and discussions on materials taught at international schools in Korea, the current state of Korea-related classe, and plans for future expansion.
Presenters from international schools in Korea included the following. Jesica de la O (Seoul International School) explored ways to incorporate the Legend of Dangun in 8th grade world history classes and shared teaching methods for teaching Korean culture. Riad Rezzik (Lycée Français de Séoul) gave specific examples of how to include Korea-related content in economics and social science classes using the “BiBimBac Project.” Patrice Germain (Lycée Français de Séoul) discussed how to increase Korea-related content in Lycée Français de Séoul’s history and geography classes. He explained that Korea is not currently included in France’s social science curriculum, but there are many opportunities to teach about Korea because teachers have a high level of discretion and freedom.
Presenters from Korea included Dahee Kim (Understanding Korea Project Division), who gave examples of mistakes about Korea found in American textbooks and shared ideas of how to effectively include Korea-related content in world history classes through history and social science curriculums. Researcher Kim also shared examples of how the Understanding Korea Project has helped improve Korea-related content in American textbooks.
Teacher Robert Southard (Yongsan International School of Seoul) acted as a discussant. He shared ways in which Korean history and culture are being taught at Yongsan International School of Seoul, and he gave various comments about the presenters’ presentations. Librarian Tim Gardes (Seoul International School) led the second session’s discussion. He shared information on various activities the Seoul International School Library is doing to increase the spread of Korean culture.
Other presentations about Korea included Pai Chai University Professor Jocelyn Clark’s presentation on Gukak (Korean traditional music), Northeast Asian History Foundation Director Choi Woondo’s presentation on Korean geography and the way the East Sea is labeled on maps. After these presentations, a question and answer session was held so participants could ask about topics they were interested in.
This seminar was an opportunity for educators who are responsible for creating social studies classes and improving social studies curricula at international schools in Korea to improve their understanding of Korea. We laid the foundation for the improvement of textbooks. In addition, the seminar was a meaningful time for both domestic and international teachers at international schools to build networks that will lead to the improvement of and introduction of new Korea-related contents in textbooks.