International Education Journal


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Western Influences in Korean Preschool Education

Young-Ihm Kwon
University of Cambridge



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This study examines Korean preschool education under Western influence. At the macrosystem level, we explore the historical and philosophical background of Korean preschool education. At the microsystem level, we examine how Western influence has affected preschool educators' perceptions, daily practice and the curriculum in preschool settings in Korea. This study shows that there were discrepancies between Korean teachers' practices and their beliefs which are mainly from Western philosophies. Despite a child centred Korean National Curriculum and the teachers' beliefs, the actual practices in the preschools are significantly different from child-centred philosophies. This discrepancy between beliefs and practices could be explained by several factors such as the reflection of traditional Korean values and the low adult to child ratio. This study suggests that any educational system reflects the cultural values of the society which implement it and preschool education is situated within a specific cultural context. Thus when we adopt some lessons from other countries' theories and practices, we should be conscious of considering its appropriateness for the particular context of a particular country.

Westernisation, Korea, preschool education, curriculum, traditional values


Young-Ihm Kwon (2002) Western Influences in Korean Preschool Education. International Education Journal, 3 (3), 153-164.

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