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NO.418 07.23.2018

“Finding Truth in Facts”

The ‘Kyung Hee Fellow’ awards those dedicated to providing improved education. The first recipients of this award have been named: Professors Chang-Sik Oh of the Department of Horticultural Biotechnology, Hyun Park of the Department of Economics, and Don Moon of the Department of International Studies. In 2017, the University established the Kyung Hee Fellow (Education) program to improve the quality of education, and to share its educational best practices. Following our interview with Professor Hyun Park, we met with Professor Chang-Sik Oh. <Editor’s Note>


“To the students, I stress the need to ‘find truth in facts.’ The Sun rises from the east and goes down to the west. With the Sun acting as the central axis, Earth rotates and revolves around the Sun. People of the past, who believed in the geocentric theory, did not know the truth. Students encounter many truths in their college life. What I emphasize in education is the ability to recognize the laws of science and the rules of society, and then to think for themselves.”

These are the words of Professor Chang-Sik Oh, who teaches ‘Phytopathogenic Microbiology’ and ‘Crop Protection & Lab’ at the Department of Horticultural Biotechnology, as well as ‘Humans and Plants’ at Humanitas College.

Classes designed to help students initiate learning & problem solving
In his course ‘Humans and Plants,’ Professor Oh weaves culture and arts, energy, medicine, environment, and cosmology into the study of plants, and urges learners to dig themselves out of their academic silos. Instead, they are encouraged to view the world around them through the refined knowledge of their humanistical lens. Just as they learn to interpret diverse realities by observing plants, students are nudged to view their world through the lens of their own fields of study, allowing their learning to converge and to pioneer new knowledge.


In the major course ‘Crop Protection & Lab,’ he teaches how to protect plants from blight and pests, and to raise them into healthy crops. Professor Oh provides a description of what is taught in this class. He said, “Due to climate change, plantations are moving from the south to the north. As a result, new crops are being farmed, and unknown pests are being introduced into Korea. In Horticultural Biotechnology, climate change is a major topic. This course teaches how to respond to many changing situations.”


Professor Oh described that the objective of major courses is no different from that of other classes that he teaches. He said, “Even in the major programs, I use social phenomena to help students understand what they are studying. By provoking interest, students are stimulated to learn, and to cultivate their own ability to identify solutions to given issues.”

 


“How to teach and to how to teach them to grow”
Professor Oh checks the student feedback through a survey administered each semester. Here are some of the student responses.

“His exams do not require blind memorization skills; instead, he looks for creative answers. It’s not easy, but it’s fun.” “He pays attention to the incorrect answers, too. Then, he provides detailed supplementary explanations to the exam questions in the next class.” “He helps us understand the theory by connecting it to real-life situations, and guides us to broaden our perspective.”

Professor Oh, who refers to education as the ‘act of teaching and nurturing,’ believes in the importance of the ‘how’ in what is taught, as well as ‘what the learner is taught to cultivate.’ With growing demand in learner-centered education and creative talent development, changes in education are picking up speed. Professor Oh continues to develop his pedagogical methods. He designs classes to accommodate more student participation. The latest social phenomena and real-world incidents are used to develop his teaching materials and to devise answers to student questions. In this process, students voluntarily share knowledge and Professor Oh takes on the role of a mediator.

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