Intangible Cultural Heritage of Asia and the Pacific

Sustainable ICH-related Curricula in Korean Elementary Schools

Efforts for the sustainable development of human cultures, which is defined by UNESCO as its most important goal, have already affected our lives in many ways. Among others, the inheritance and development of ICH are considered unique to humanity and the quintessence of human life. Education plays a vital role in the process of cultural inheritance and development. In particular, the experiences and education we receive during elementary school as young members of a future generation have a critical and meaningful influence on our lives. The significance of ICH education for the sustainable development of humanity is evidently underlined in UNESCO’s 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and its Operational Directives.
Given such importance, ICHCAP researched developing ICH educational programs in collaboration with professors from six academic disciplines, including education at Jeonju National University of Education, one of the national universities specializing in elementary school teacher training in Korea. The fields of specialization of the participating professors include education (Eun Hyuk-Gi), Korean language education (Seo Hyunseok), social education (Park Sang Joon), music education (Lee Sang-Kyu, majored in traditional Korean music), art education (Jang Ji Seong, majored in Korean painting) and physical education (Shin Gi-Cheol).

The common aspect among these professors is that they are all experts in primary and secondary curricula in Korea, participating in textbook development. For the development of ICH curricula in elementary education, the team of researchers analyzed ICH-related content that is currently included in the Korean elementary curriculum, and based on the analysis, formulated a teaching-learning plan in each subject. Furthermore, they combined five subjects, around one activity to devise a new teaching-learning plan, and then selected an elementary school to teach pilot classes to students. The development of this type of ICH teaching and learning model carries significance in that the experiences and results can be shared with the international community.
Firstly, an overall analysis framework was developed by referring to existing materials on ICH education, such as the guide to ICH for teachers, Learning With Intangible Heritage for a Sustainable Future: Guidelines for Educators in the Asia-Pacific Region (UNESCO Bangkok Office, 2015); secondly, ICH-related content covered in the 2015 revised elementary education curriculum (five subjects consisting of the Korean language, social studies, music, art, and physical education)
was analyzed based on the developed analysis framework; thirdly, essential and significant content was selected among the analyzed elementary education curriculum to develop practical teaching-learning plans of each subject; and fourthly, sample material of one teaching-learning plan was formulated by combining five subjects centering around one activity. The research results in more detail are discussed below.

Traditional wedding: Third-grade social studies textbook

As far as the analysis results of ICH content covered in the 2015 revised elementary education curriculum, ICH-related content is reflected in various ways depending on the characteristics of each subject. For example, traditional mask dance (talchum) and kite flying were reflected in all the subjects of Korean language, social studies, music, art and physical education. When dividing the content based on the understanding of ICH and types of ICH, the subjects of Korean language, social studies and art contained both the understanding and types of ICH, whereas music and physical education mostly focused on the types of ICH.
First, examining the ICH content included in the elementary education curriculum for each subject shows that the Korean language curriculum uses traditional fairytales and other traditional Korean stories as teaching materials of Korean literature. In addition, topics related to ICH and sustainable education are extensively addressed in many lesson units through the subject matter and main theme of reading materials including explanatory and editorial texts in every semester per school year. In sum, the Korean language curriculum indirectly introduces ICH as materials for Korean language activities rather than directly addressing it. Meanwhile, social studies curriculums, though introducing local cultural heritage and those designated as UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage, lack a more holistic and systematic explanation of ICH’s meaning and importance. They generally take place by presenting illustrations and brief accounts pertinent to mainly performing arts, social customs, rituals and religious ceremonies among ICH elements. The music curriculum mainly deals with performing arts of ICH as the subject is based on various musical activities, such as singing, instrument playing, and listening to music. Since the field of traditional music takes a holistic approach that incorporates instruments, singing, and dancing as one, and thus encompasses instrumental and vocal music and even dancing, the music curriculum encompasses ICH content related to physical expressions and games in general. Although the art curriculum does not directly discuss ICH’s concept, it ensures sufficient coverage of ICH in the curriculum. In fact, art textbooks promote seeing, feeling, and experiencing ICH on a fundamental level in various ways. The ICH content in the physical education textbooks mostly consists of oral traditions and expressions and performing arts. While ICH related to traditional games and dances was sufficiently featured, the content relevant to the understanding, attitudes and values related to ICH was inadequate. Overall, it can be surmised that ICH-related content was substantially included in all of the subjects according to the characteristics of each subject.

[Grade 6] An excerpt from Unit 1 “Listen to the Music”: UNESCO is introduced as an organization that aims to discover, protect, and preserve the world’s natural and cultural heritage and, among the elements designated as ICH by UNESCO, a Korean ICH element related to music is presented with photos.

In the second step, our research team formulated elementary school teaching-learning plans for each subject to reflect ICH education. The teaching-learning plan (or toolkit) of each subject was made to comprise eighty minutes of activities, corresponding to two elementary classes, and applicable grades and topics were selected to suit each subject. Links between subject content and ICH elements were presented in line with the principles of education for sustainable development (ESD). The subject matter, target grade, time, activities, objective (in terms of knowledge, skill, and attitude), and learning materials were also provided in detail. The core content of each subject is: learning honorific expressions and observing language etiquette in the conversation for the Korean language curriculum; understanding the traditional custom of “Dano” and the intergenerational transmission of fan-making skills for the social studies curriculum; understanding the perceptions and customs of traditional society through traditional music listening and games for the music curriculum; understanding the perceptions and customs of traditional society through the appreciation and expression of traditional art for the art curriculum, and; understanding the perception and customs of traditional society by playing Daedong Nori (traditional folkgame) for the physical education curriculum.
The third step entailed the development of a teaching-
learning plan that combined the five curricula with ICH content, focusing on talchum in particular, and the formulation of a 120-minute class, corresponding to three elementary classes. Whereas the second step focused on ways to teach elementary school students about ICH in each subject, the third step aimed to teach students about the themes of the five subjects by combining them in one activity. Talchum is a theatrical genre of social satire consisting of a dance (physical education) that parodies the culture of the class-based society in Joseon-era Korea (social studies), which was divided into nobles (yangban) and commoners (pyeongmin). In talchum,