Programmed childhood: Korean children's experiences in the United States.
Author(s)Kim, Shi Hae
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractDifferent cultures produce different lifestyle patterns. Korea is a country profoundly influenced by its history of Confucianism. Korean families living in the U.S.A. bring with them child-rearing patterns based in the Korean experiences. This dissertation is an explanation of these patterns as they affect Korean children's lives in and outside of school. Korean children have two schools; one at home and one at their American public school. As a result "home" seems to be missing for these children as is time to play because of long hours of study. Korean mothers transform their homes into Korean schools and become their children's primary teachers. Their teaching methods are designed to develop test taking skills such as rapid memorization, speed and accuracy. Little or no time is left for unstructured or creative play. Interviews with five Korean mothers revealed that the mothers carried a double burden; helping their children to adjust to American schools and preparing them to re-adjust to Korean schools. The influence of the Korean college entrance exam forced these mothers and their children to prepare for their return to Korea rather than focus on the children's adjustment to American school. For Korean children in the U.S.A., childhood is directed and predetermined by their mothers' efforts to help them succeed at school. These efforts make it seem as if a program is being inserted into a mechanism. In the process the heart of childhood experience, the importance of play is missing in these children's lives. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings and with suggestions for improving the life of Korean children in the U.S.A.