Last year, during the World Cup in Brazil, the Korean soccer team did not record a single victory. The team and fans were both dejected. However, with the coming of new coach from Germany, Mr. Stielike, the table has turned. In less than 6 months, the Korean team achieved the glorious second place in Asian Cup. In the final, the Korean team was beaten 2-1 by Australia. The goal was working favorably to Australia and the Aussies benefited from their home ground advantage, but the Korean team displayed spirited fight which was quite admirable. The fact that a leader can make such a huge difference makes us think about many things.
Even after such a brilliant achievement, Coach Stielike did not celebrate his success. He rather freely pointed out the weaknesses of Korean soccer. He claimed that this great result was somewhat accidental, and that the current state of Korean soccer is not that rosy. He believed that Koreans need to re-learn the basics of soccer. ‘Koreans teach how to win but they don’t teach how to enjoy soccer.’, he said. Because of that, players do not have creativity with which they can absorb strategy. His word, ‘Know how to enjoy rather than how to win’ really spoke to me because I know very well that Koreans do not know how to enjoy things.
For Koreans, everything is a mean to win. Studying is only a tool to gain what they want. When kids learn to play piano and have some experience, playing piano is not for enjoyment but is a way to win, which turns playing piano into a burden. Traditionally, ‘No pain, no gain.’ has been perceived as a great virtue and this tendency contributed toward the current think pattern. In other words, we were taught to sacrifice, disregard and persevere to achieve the goal. Therefore, for Koreans, everything such as study, sports, music or even hobbies, becomes something to suffer through to gain the useful outcome rather than something to enjoy and appreciate in the process.
Korean students’ academic achievement among OECD countries is incredibly high; the first place in math and the 2nd place in science. However, other gages such as students’ motivation or passion to study, confidence in the subject, and self-direction came out at the bottom level. That is to say that the academic achievement is great but students are not really interested in the subject but are simply doing it by determination to obtain the result and they are not enjoying the process. Maybe that is why Koreans have not produced a Nobel Prize winner even though Korean high school students are the highest achievers in the world.
Therefore, we need to help children to appreciate whatever they do. They should not work because of their fear of their parents or to gain their approval. We need to teach them how to savor each step of the learning process, how to enjoy gaining understanding and to be happy about it. Also, we ourselves need to practice appreciation in what we do rather than use hard work as a mean to obtain recognition or achievement. Having an attitude which is focused only on the final product or result such as a promotion, raise or successful business is not commendable. We need to be convinced of God’s purpose for our work, find joy in our efforts, and work with a glad heart. Such an attitude eventually will be our true strength.
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