The End of Grade Tests, Opting Out of Testing and the Example of Korea

This article should be entitled “The Education Race,” or something similar. This past week media news again bubbled over with a story on parents’ all over the country opting out, or refusing to have their children tested in the upcoming “End of Grade” or “EOG” tests. I saw an article about Korea’s educational system that is rigidly test results driven and would commend it highly to the reader.

One professional tidbit that helped this disquieting article about the growing trends in American education, is that for many years I have taught my medical and psychiatric trainees about the cultural dimensions to the world wide phenomenon of suicide. In the last decade or more I have included the mostly modern example of the religious or suicide bomber form of killing oneself. But I have more strongly cited the phenomenon in the test and admission into college countries such as Japan and Korea as a unique, culturally specific example of suicide. This is the annual jumping off of buildings from skyscraper windows in decades past in May when aspiring students are not accepted into the premier colleges in the their countries such as Tokyo University. Japan as part of its strengthening of its tall buildings’ codes to withstand earthquakes, mandated that windows in tall buildings could not be opened from the inside to prevent the young distraught, depressed, suicidal aspiring but rejected student from opening a window ten floors up from the street and jumping by the dozens to their deaths every year during admissions acceptance letter season. Nowadays the students tend to jump from tall open parking structures since many buildings no longer lend themselves to jumping from heights as they did, say in the 1970’s when this was an annual tragic news story.

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