Loyola University Chicago

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Hee Kyung Hong

Hee Kyung Hong
Program
Ph.D Cultural and Educational Policy Studies (2006)
Country of Origin
South Korea
Current Location
Hong Kong

What inspired you to be an educator?

I stumbled into education through my first degree in psychology, when I took a course in educational psychology that introduced me to the concept that learning as influenced by factors other than school and classroom variables. Learning can also be mediated by individual student and teacher characteristics and the dynamics of the interaction between the two within the learning context. Prior to declaring psychology as my major (which eventually helped consolidate my decision to enter the field of education), I also had opportunities to interact with children and students in different contexts, by giving tutorial help with schoolwork and teaching in Sunday schools. After completing my first degree, I enrolled in the teacher certification program to be licensed as an English teacher in Hong Kong, which then opened doors for me to work as a language teacher in an international school for two years. Based on my academic interests in the field and my enthusiasm for teaching, I subsequently made the decision to pursue graduate studies in international and comparative education in the United States.

What are the greatest educational needs in your country?

I discuss this with reference to Hong Kong, though I am an outsider of the local school system as a South Korean national. My observations and classroom interactions with students in Hong Kong may not necessarily be addressing the most important educational need in Hong Kong.  With that disclaimer, I proceed by responding that there is a need for teachers here to encourage a higher level of independent thinking in their students. It may be stereotypical, but not inaccurate, to say that Asian cultures are overall collectivistic and, as a result, have a tendency to conform. As an example, students may not voluntarily offer their thoughts or opinions on a topic even when presented with sufficient opportunities to do so, but will more likely respond when asked. Expression of one’s thoughts and opinions does not merit a value-laden assessment (right or wrong/good or bad), but the tendency is to avoid giving a ‘wrong’ answer in public (i.e. the classroom context). Students at the undergraduate level are required to spend some time studying abroad to expose them to different cultures and ways of learning and living. As they broaden their worldview through experiences gained from study abroad, they may also acquire a set of pedagogy for their future teaching careers different to what they have been used to as students. Having said all that, I have thoroughly enjoyed interacting with my students in my first semester on the job in Hong Kong.  (See photo attached – me with students in my course in the teacher certification program this fall at the Hong Kong Institute of Education).

How has what you learned at Loyola positively impacted your work?

Loyola’s model of education rooted in social justice has taught me how a profession can be transformed by a greater sense of purpose, not only to achieve the tangible goals commonly discussed as the public good, but to engage in the profession for the immaterial rewards that can make a lasting impact, especially in the field of education. I have also benefited much from Loyola’s professors, particularly from the SOE with whom I have had the most interaction, through their examples as caring scholars with the capacity to combine both the intellect and heart in their profession and the courage to display such qualities on a daily basis. Interacting with fellow graduate students of culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds in my field of study, comparative education, while at Loyola has also been personally enriching for me.