Tuesday, September 20, 2016

PittEd profiles alumnus Namgi Park and his impact on Korean education.

via 서울Pn

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education's online magazine, PittEd has a lengthy profile on Gwangju National University of Education President, and Pitt alumnus, Namgi Park (박남기) and his contributions to the development of higher education in South Korea.

Park returned home to South Korea after graduation with some new concepts and ideas. “In the 1980s, we used a strong education system; what I mean is that we were ‘in control’ and sometimes hit the kids and were angry with them a lot of the time. When I went to the United States, I found it was totally different from us, and when I came back to South Korea, I told teachers soon we cannot hit kids anymore. We now have to develop classroom management skills. After 10 years, the South Korean government prohibited teachers from hitting students.”

Upon his return, he was hired as a professor at Gwangju National University of Education (GNUE) and also was invited by the South Korean Ministry of Education to work as a researcher, consultant, team leader, and advisory committee member on various policies. These policies included attempting to globalize the South Korean education system; changing the university admissions policy; and modifying the professor, K–12 teacher, and school district system performance evaluations. He says the highlight of his career occurred when he became the youngest person ever to be elected GNUE president, a position he held from 2008 to 2012.

Over the past five years, he has focused on training future teachers: “I spend more time with my students because if I make one future teacher better, he or she can change thousands of students.” He also is devoting his time to research to explain the Korean education phenomenon as well as writing a book on the subject of neomeritocracy, which he says “reveals the shadow of meritocracy and suggests a new social and education paradigm for the coming decades.”
Park earned his Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993 and worked two stints as a visiting professor at Pitt in 1999 and 2000-2001. Lately, and most recently in 2014, he has led teacher-training and cultural-immersion programs in Pittsburgh with the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. In 2013 he received a 225 Medallion from the University of Pittsburgh, which recognizes him as a distinguished alumnus. And his admiration for particularly impressive hibiscus he found in a Squirrel Hill front yard was published in the Chosun Ilbo, a flower and column that grabbed attention since the hibiscus (무궁화) is the national flower of South Korea.