The $4 Million Teacher: In Korea the best teachers are paid handsomely

learn cc

In the attached article the Wall Street Journal examines the South Korea’s “after school schools.” They are private, rigorous, and reward excellent educators with excellent pay.

Clearly, it’s not a perfect system as the article points out. The pressure on students is immense and my bet is that these same students could use some time wandering around in the woods and lifting up rocks in the local stream instead of in front of a computer screen.

However, there is also much to be learned here.

In the United States we (and I think many teachers themselves) have come to see teachers as “wage workers” and not the professionals that they often are.

The ability to educate effectively is a skill which should command a high rate of pay. If a teacher consistently shows the ability to convey ideas to his or her students and to produce measurable results, that teacher will be rewarded by the market handsomely.

Such is the case in Korea. We could use a big dose of the market in education in this country.


Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year in South Korea, where he is known as a rock-star teacher—a combination of words not typically heard in the rest of the world. Mr. Kim has been teaching for over 20 years, all of them in the country’s private, after-school tutoring academies, known as hagwons. Unlike most teachers across the globe, he is paid according to the demand for his skills—and he is in high demand.

Mr. Kim works about 60 hours a week teaching English, although he spends only three of those hours giving lectures. His classes are recorded on video, and the Internet has turned them into commodities, available for purchase online at the rate of $4 an hour. He spends most of his week responding to students’ online requests for help, developing lesson plans and writing accompanying textbooks and workbooks (some 200 to date).

“The harder I work, the more I make,” he says matter of factly. “I like that.”

Click here for the article.