Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 16, 1974 · Page 82
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 82

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 16, 1974
Page 82
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Page 82 article text (OCR)

PERSPECTIVES What's In It for Me? By Elizabeth K. Browning The ill-educated, the lonely, the poorly dressed, the hungry, and the misfits are often receiving in school the type of teaching which has left them and their families out of the mainstream o f f life in their communities for generations. Traditional pedagogy, with emphasis on college preparation, which still largely prevails in this country, does not meet the needs of these children, so they are not interested in school much of the time. These children are legion, and it is absolutely essential to recognize and appreciate their culture to establish rapport with them, for if the culture of the school is too divergent from the culture of the students, the school will be rejected, and the students will be life-time losers. Many teachers speak about not lowering teaching standards, but .'teachers need to "start where the; students are in* an attempt to meet their needs. A classroom needs to be created which invites these children to be at ease and to participate in meaningful activities. There is need for exposure to an. interesting, workable program geared to their needs. What are the teachers saying about their disadvantaged students? Some students are accused of being impatient, sarcastic, care- TheBird of Dream (After Georg Lichtenberg 1742-1799) Now that I am humble some of the mischievous ideas we had (now that I am humbled by time) like one of our seven beloved robins when we used to talk of house taming: some of the mischievous ideas we had seem like the little spots which a beloved robin would have made flying around our house on books of poems open, papers, and furniture. Now that the little bird of dream has been taken by the cat it has been forgiven for the spots it would have made. -J. William Myers less, stupid, and indolent. A few are complimented as being eager, enthusiastic, seeking for knowledge, and well informed. I h a v e seen a boy in a classroom who worked from four o'clock until midnight the previous night, and I knew he had to get home 14 miles away just any way he could. I couldn't blame him for wanting to sleep -- I knew he wasn't indolent. The girl with the black eye and the w i t h d r a w n look probably was beaten by a drunken father. She wasn't eager and enthusiastic. The boy with the long hair worked as a janitor after school and ran a projector at the theater at night. At his home there were six other children, his mother, and his step-father who needed his earnings for food, clothing and shelter. The boy was a smart aleck with his answers and never believed anything good about anyone, but he was not just being impudent, and sarcastic. It was . a miracle he.had the guts to stay in school after his 16th birthday. The boy who was responsible for getting his five younger brothers and sisters off to school every morning because his mother worked at night (there was no father in the home) often went back to bed or skipped school. Then he was suspended from school for skipping. He wasn't lazy, but he was impatient and sarcastic. He dropped out of school as soon as he could, and he is now in · the penitentiary. The students described above were all culturally different and economically deprived, and unless a teacher really explored their backgrounds, nothing would have been revealed about their problems in one hour a day in the classroom. When nearly half the students in a class have severe problems, the questions asked in class are different from the questions asked in a college preparatory class. Their answers to the teacher's questions are different too. So are their expectations. What are the disadvantaged and culturally different students saying? "I wanna get a job so's I can take care of myself." "What good's that gonna do me?" "The old man kum home bout four this mornin drunk and tried to beat up on everybody, sos I left." "What's in it for me?" What are the teachers and schools saying to these students? Familv of Tal Yo Ha in front of what was jirass roof hut. Bloodless Revolution in Korea M U K H Y U N - R I VILLAGE, Korea - Rain fell softly when I visited this tiny hamlet along a national highway 38 miles northwest of Seoul one summer afternoon. To my surprise, the 69-family community was virtually deserted. It's because of the Sae- maul Movement that is sweeping the countryside of the Republic of Korea. In EDITOR'S NOTE: Mrs. Browning is dean of women at Morris Harvey College. K. W. Lee. a graduate of West Virginia Vniversily and n former reporter on 'The Gazette, noir works for the Sacramento Vnion. Korea, Saemaul means the New Village, remiscent of Israel's kibbutz or Red China's collective farm. - Saemau only two years old, has turned the once dormant, dirt-poor village into an enclave of human ants and a hub of mushrooming cooperatives. Starvation which stalked the village in every drying season is now an ancient memory. Mukhyur-ri stands on the threshold of becoming a modern, mechanized farming community. Undergoing the same heady change "are 34,654 other peasant villages throughout the once war-torn peninsula where 2.3 million farming families -- making Bv K. W. up half of South Korea's 31 million people - have eked out a wretched existence through the ancient ways of the Hermit Kingdom. As I drove off the superhighway onto a wide road leading to Mukhyun-ri, the half-moon-shaped hamlet loomed up like an Oriental woodcut print, floating in the rain-misty green rice sea of a waning summer. »· Behind the quaint facade, however, the 393-member cooperative was feverishly engaged in one of the most far-reaching agricultural revolutions in Asia's noncommunist nations, largely unnoticed by America and the western world. M i '4 V ? ' ': Every able-bodied man." young and old. had gone to work in the outskirts of the Heavenly Horse Mountain which towers over their an- cestoral home. They had been out in the rain since dawn, hauling huge bundles of mountain grass to build up their communal compost stock for the village-run. high-yield gardens. " · Except Tal Yo Ha, 52. father of two growing children, who was lying in bed, exhausted from overwork in the field. "I am not y o u n g any:. more," the wiry life-long fanner said apologetically as he emerged f r o m his room to greet the visitor. "We older men can barely catch up with our eager-beaver youngsters these days." Mrs. Ha, 49. nodded her head. "Ever since President Park's Saemaul Movement came to our town two years ago,' 1 he added, "things haven't been quite the same." His may be an understatement of the decade. For the first time in 'Muk h y u n - r i ' s miserable- 500-year existence, the lives of its inhabitants. have been swept in by a bloodless revolution which has literally transformed their village beyond recognition within less than two years. · *· Almost overnight, the age- jold method of family-centered farming was replaced by the 20th century mode with the village functioning as a production and distribution unit. Each family has come out of the shell in which its members were imprisoned for centuries. They scrapped the twiee-'a-year crops -rice in the autumn and bar : ley in the spring -- in favor of the all-year-round multi; crop system. Above all, cooperation and cooperatives have become the all-consuming thrust for the villagers who had subsisted oh their respective little patch of land averaging 2.2 acres. Under the two-crop system, weather was-their.mor- tal enemy. Come spring, the dreaded Barley Pass loomed just around the corner.-~No" body in power in the capital . ' gave a damn for the lowly, hungry peasants. All the peasants could do was look. up to heaven and pray. Arid.:" more often than hot, heaven*: didn't hear their prayers; '/: '1 ; Today, the Barley Pass ; or ; : spring hunger is no more,. Each passing day is a pro- ' duction day for Mukhyinvri. Stoicism, the^nduring mark of Korean peasantry, is giving way to hope and confidence. For the first time, the peasants are making things- happen for themselves. Visit any village along the railroad tracks or remote country roads, and you see the saga of Mukhyun-ri repeated in varied forms. Seeing is believing. Mukhyun-ri was the tenth village I had visited during my three-week visit to my old country after an absence of nearly 25 years. Since the bitter winter of 1971, under the fluttering green flag of Saemaul, the Mukhyun-ri people have banded together and: * Replaced a rickety, nar- 6m CHARLESTON, W, VA. June 16. 1974 Sunday Gazette-Mail

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