The Future of Education Guiding the Future of Ewha
Professor Emeritus Kim Eun-san (an Ewha graduate in education, 1959) has contributed 100 million won to the “Ewha Frontier 10-10 Development Fund.” The funds will be used for a project aimed at developing Korea’s education by selecting and supporting promising fields of learning and study driving the future of Ewha. In particular, it is especially meaningful because a project group from the Education department at the university from which Professor Kim graduated is scheduled to carry out pivotal research on cultivating future education experts prepared for the digital era.
Professor Kim, who has lived her whole life as an educator, became famous by studying the U.K.’s Summerhill School as a global model for alternative schools that enable students to do what they wish unless it causes harm to others and largely allow student choice. She introduced these ideas to Korea in the 1970s at a time when the conception of students’ self-learning was unfamiliar. Summerhill is an educational institution that fosters happy democratic citizens and suggests significant solutions for several pressing issues in education circles such as school violence, bullying, suicide, and drug addiction. She launched the Association for Autonomy-directed Education (formerly the Korean Neill Society) in 1988 and has worked hard to study autonomy-directed education and spread the ideas among those who hold a similar vision.
“I came to Ewha thanks to my older sister. Thanks to Ewha, I could encounter Summerhill, realize my mission, and then achieve my goals.” She expressed deep gratitude to her sister, who passed away two years ago. She recalled how her sister, a student at Seoul National University Law School at the time, repeatedly and earnestly recommended Ewha even though she was hoping to enter the same university as her sister.
Professor Kim’s life reflects Ewha’s leadership in education in modern Korean history in that it established affiliated elementary, middle, and high schools and conducted student-centered democratic education as a pilot school for the “New Education project” to erase the remaining vestiges of Japanese imperialism in the 1950s. “It was an ambitious project to improve education in Korea. It involved the combined efforts of three graduates from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: the former Dean of Ewha Graduate School Oh Cheon-seok, the former President Helen Kim, and the former Dean of the College of Education Kim Emma. Long before them, John Dewey, an American educator, also graduated from Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. It is lamentable that the full range of roles that Ewha could have played in education was later narrowed due to the military regime and the promotion of egalitarian-based education policy. The reality of education in Korea where the zeal for education is the highest in the world but the Happy Planet Index score ranks last requires Ewha to play a role again,” she concluded.
Professor Kim has a plan to publish a compilation of a translation of former Principal of Summerhill Zoe Neill Readhead’s book Barefoot in November and a journal Professor Kim wrote after she visited Summerhill. She also has hopes for Ewha students: “The Lord gave a vocation for the salvation of our education and students through Ewha to me, a person who back then wanted to be a missionary after reading a biography of Albert Schweitzer. If there are students who have the same dream, I hope my support provides you great courage and help.”