How a National Culture of Academic Over-Competition Destroys Their Youth / by Muhammad Amir Ayub

This is such a sad story:

When I asked a class if they were happy in this environment, one girl hesitantly raised her hand to tell me that she would only be happy if her mother was gone because all her mother knew was how to nag about her academic performance.


Herded to various educational outlets and programs by parents, the average South Korean student works up to 13 hours a day, while the average high school student sleeps only 5.5 hours a night to ensure there is sufficient time for studying.


Many young South Koreans suffer physical symptoms of academic stress, like my brother did. In a typical case, one friend reported losing clumps of hair as she focused on her studies in high school; her hair regrew only when she entered college.

Students are also inclined to see academic performance as their only source of validation and self-worth. Among young South Koreans who confessed to feeling suicidal in 2010, an alarming 53 percent identified inadequate academic performance as the main reason for such thoughts.


But above all, the conviction that academic success is paramount in life needs to be set aside completely. South Korea may have become an enviable economic superpower, but it has neglected the happiness of its people.

That is just child abuse. The American education system may be swung a bit much towards sports/creativity/“emotional development” at the expense of academic development, but swinging to the other side is just as harmful.

But with being rich being a significant factor to achieving any social mobility in the current era of ever increasing economic iequality, the drive to keep pushing to be on top will always be there. But it seems that the Americans are doing better than Asians in coping with the pressures (maybe because there's an impression that the American millennials are completely oblivious to the high stakes nature of the modern workplace while kids are given certificates just for participating in something without proper achievement).

I think that we have a bit of both extremes among our own people, but it’s certainly more in the middle. Hence we produce people who can’t really talk confidently yet can’t memorize word by word their textbook and still suck in sports (except in online keyboard warrior arguments).