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Argument on the Past, Present, and Future of Liberal Arts Education in Colleges and Universities in Korea

  • Legal Theory & Practice Review
  • Abbr : LTPR
  • 2023, 11(2), pp.215-260
  • Publisher : The Korea Society for Legal Theory and Practice Inc.
  • Research Area : Social Science > Law
  • Received : April 26, 2023
  • Accepted : May 29, 2023
  • Published : May 31, 2023

Jongho Kim 1

1호서대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

It is clear that Korea’s higher education has made great achievements in promoting equal opportunity and democratization of education. In addition, it cannot be denied that universities have produced many talented people with specialized knowledge in specific fields against the background of the phenomenal high growth of the Korean economy after the successful implementation of the economic development plan. However, it is thought that the case where our university education is hit by the arrow of criticism is that Korean education has maintained a certain level due to the competition of the college entrance exam, but academic achievement is stagnant after entering university. As such, it cannot be said that Korean university education is in a state of dysfunction. Why? In the case of Korea, education that is incomparably uniform and homogeneous before entering college is incomparable to that of the United States, and so far, a relatively homogeneous number of university students has been secured. Ironically, the criticism that the Liberal Arts classes they took after entering college is just a repetition of high school is revealed. In addition, there are many universities in Korea, and there is also a problem of the so-called universalization that occurs along with the low birth rate, so there is a situation where it is not possible to unite the problems under the name of universities. The reason why general education and liberal arts education did not function properly in Korean universities was that the constitution of university teachers who valued professionalism and neglected general education continued for half a century, and the ideology, purpose, and evaluation method were neglected vaguely. It is because general education and liberal arts education have been implemented in the form of being divided into specialized teachers. As a result, students simply swallowed general education and general education subjects. Furthermore, I would like to remind reader that liberal arts education was neglected because the slackening of university education was biased toward preoccupation with specialized education. The difficulty in liberal arts education at universities is not only because of the classification at the university level, but also because of the differences in the identity of each department or department within the university. Even within a single university, the situation is different for each department, but liberal arts education is the most basic core of the curriculum and is often structured across departments. However, this point could be resolved if the center of undergraduate education was centered on general education and professional basic education, securing more time for the curriculum and thicker distribution of resources in terms of human and material budgets. However, a more fundamental solution is that the way to promote labor with various contents should be changed as the content of liberal arts education nurtures a certain human being. In fact, there is fundamental confusion in the perception of liberal arts education in universities. If one think about university liberal arts education, he/she need to give an answer to this confusion. As for the answer, one should have to respond by designing a curriculum for it is necessary to clarify whether to nurture a leader who has everything in mind, heart, action, and intellectual ability, or whether to nurture a person with a unique personality (e.g., members of the global community, talents who support the region, professionals, leader in various field, researchers) with an emphasis on which items, and furthermore, to realize that goal. It should be recognized that the purpose of strengthening liberal arts education is multifaceted, such as nurturing elites or leaders, nurturing competent professionals, and basic knowledge as a global citizens. Whenever there is a period of upheaval inside and outside the university, there is no right answer, and one has to make his/her own blueprint while referring to various cases. If one thinks that the situation he/she is in is like this, what is fundamentally needed is the function of an executive brain group in any form, good leadership to implement proposals, and a system that can organically and functionally give feedback to opinions from the field. And when these are guaranteed, it will be possible to proceed with the creation of a detailed liberal arts education plan.

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