Trust the media

Let me start this blog by saying that I have absolutely no problem with people making money.  I believe that, if the money is gained in a legitimate way, money represents the value created in society.

Let’s look at the following article.

The $4 Million Dollar Teacher: He “earns” $4M.  What does that mean?  Taxable income? Net Income? Revenue on his business?

He works 60 hours per week, which is standard in Korea, with 50 weeks makes a total of 3.000 hours.  To which he quips, “”The harder I work, the more I make” , thanks for the great advice, I am sure all of us are lazy louts. 4.000.000/3.000=$1.334 per hour.  Amazing.  How does he do it?  What is his trick?

Haa Video teaching.  He doesn’t actually teach class, he acts.  He is an actor.  On top of that, he authors and sells books.  Let’s see if we can find some of his books.   Here we go.  So he is also an author (Although I don’t think he actually writes them..).  He doesn’t teach.  A actual teacher making 4M is close to impossible due to the fact that for a skill like this, no one is going to be 1.400 dollar an hour.  $50, sure, no problem, $100, $200, certainly possible, but $1.400.  I don’t think so.  So we got that out of the way, he is not a teacher, he runs a business.  Therefore $4M is his REVENUE, not Net Profit.

Now we can talk.

The bulk of Mr. Kim’s earnings come from the 150,000 kids who watch his lectures online each year. (Most are high-school students looking to boost their scores on South Korea’s version of the SAT.) He is a brand name, with all the overhead that such prominence in the market entails. He employs 30 people to help him manage his teaching empire and runs a publishing company to produce his books.

This is good.

Looking into his profile, he helps students focus on their SAT’s (test-taking), this is a lucrative market due to the high demand but only a small part of the teaching community able to provide these services (Think Ivy league).  Once you go in there, wage costs will probably dwindle his $4M down quickly if you have to pay 30 wages.

Check the article written in 2007.

The only reason these people make oodles of money is due to the heavy stress of a greater part of the population who are pushed by their parents to attain Academic success.   Koreans consider this to be a very valuable commodity.  Who you are, what your skills are, are less important than what University you graduated with (and in some extend the scores you received).  Koreans abhor failure, of any kind.  Therefore, trying your best, even though you know this is not your strength, is paramount.

There was a very nice article written, but I forgot to save it, that explained the difference in a simple way.  They  gave a group of people with mixed cultural background, a series of tasks.  The divide was clear, people with Western backgrounds would focus on the tasks they were good at, where Asians focused on tasks they were worst at.  It is an interesting observation that explains a lot why we don’t understand each other that well.

Back to the article.  He can make this amount of money since this person is a good actor.  He knows how to use the camera to be able to help students pass their SAT’s.  It is commendable, it helps some students to learn, but it is not teaching.

So we go back to the question; Do we still need teachers? Well, we can’t let money alone decide who should succeed or not.  The reason public education is required is to be able to give EVERYONE the basic tools to lead a good valuable life, to be valuable to society as a whole. The reason private education is required is two-pronged.  One the one hand, some children do need assistance to stay with the crowd, on the other hand, some kids want/need more than the public education can offer.  Public education really is education for the masses, and tries to do it at the lowest possible cost, to reduce the load on society as a whole.  Private education is the Individual’s choice to improve themselves in ways the public cannot support, the one and only issue here is that these types of education are more costly due to their specialized nature.  Every person has the right to improve themselves, some can do with what is given by society, some need extra help to get there.

The following is a bit troubling to me:

No country has all the answers. But in an information-driven global economy, a few truths are becoming universal: Children need to know how to think critically in math, reading and science; they must be driven; and they must learn how to adapt, since they will be doing it all their lives. These demands require that schools change, too—or the free market may do it for them.

Why must children be driven?  Not everyone has to be ambitious.  Not everyone needs to be this one thing.  People should be themselves.  Kids need to figure out who they are and what they want, as soon as possible.  It is once they know what they want that decision and sacrifices become meaningful, create greater value.

My issue here is that it is assumed that students are just empty hulls with nothing to say about it.  Why is suicide so high in Korea?  Why are divorce rates so high in Korea? Why is fertility so low in Korea?  Exactly, because they are pushed by society to fit into something that doesn’t fit all.  I’m sure there are woman who would love to have more children, but due to the high cost of education (due to societies pressures), and a high demand to look good, and the hardship to make money, and the difficulties for woman to have a decent job and so on and so forth, isn’t it simple to understand that maybe there is something a little bit different required?  A toning down of expectations, a little more flexibility in what success really means.  An allowance in the decision making in the child’s future?

This article clearly is trying to tell us that there seem to be only 2 important things, Academic and financial success.  Do you think so too?

Sorry for the long rant, over and out

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