Teacher Ma Yeo-jin has fallen ill from overworking and stress and left her class in a state of confusion. The kids actually miss their teacher because they know that despite her terrifying teaching methods, Ma truly cares for them. They fight the vice-principal who is ecstatic to allow the school board to put Ma on probation for inadequate teaching. They want Ma to stay.
I'm really not sure how I feel about this. I know that Ma's good intentions to make the kids strong and self-sufficient are the heart of the story. Ma sacrifices herself as the common enemy so that the kids can fight and grow because of it. But the method is so truly horrible that it just isn't worth all of the suffering. Na-ri almost burned the classroom down. Do-jin nearly beat the life out of In-bo. Ma stressed herself to the point of hospitalization. Those are extremes found only in war and veritable torture. I do not like having them in the classroom. It keeps me from really investing myself in the story and Ma's "genuine" caring and concern for the children.
Ma Yeo-jin's class protesting her suspension
Also, the story tries to garner more sympathy for Ma by comparing her with the vice principal, who substitutes for her while she's in the hospital. He always makes them study while he is on the phone. He doesn't care about them or their education, but about the politics behind the education system. Basically, he cares about everything that Ma is teaching the children to fear and battle. It's a wonderful comparison. The viewers and the kids in the classroom can all clearly see the difference between the two "educators".
But Ma's form of caring is so intense, that she barely sleeps, is malnourished and anemic, always thinks about the kids in her classroom and has no time for herself. That isn't healthy. In order to care for other people, one must first take care of oneself. Completely neglect of self is not wise. It's a romantic idea, to gives one's self completely to a cause, but it is not realistic. Then again, we are in a world where a teacher gets away with punishing students with labor and convinces very stingy parents of things they would never normally consent to - i.e., we're in dramaland.
Ma Yeo-jin coming back for one last class
In any case, Ma's teaching methods finally catch up to her because the school system and the parents do not approve. She is suspended by the school board. The kids of her classroom were interviewed before the decision was made, but because their parents were present during the interview, they feel their opinions weren't properly represented. They want another chance to defend their teacher and bring her back. The childrens' logic rests purely on the fact that they are now a cohesive group of friends. They love and defend each other. They listen to each other and resolve differences. They're like war buddies; they survived the terror. Ma thinks the world is like that and wants to prepare them.
That's why this show makes us think. Is it worth damaging kids to bring them together? Is it worth making them suffer so much?
Ma definitely thinks so. She returns to the classroom at the end of the episode against the vice-principal's wishes. She tells the children what she truly believes: they are precious as are their friendships. Live for today because it's where they are now. Failure is okay because dreams can come true despite failure. Basically, all the lessons she's taught them by forcing them to fight her. She finally says the lessons outright and, I must admit, the impact of the words is so much stronger because of the suffering they've been through.
Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 15"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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