“What can teachers do to ensure their students can excel not only in their studies but also their personal growth?”
I believe this is the theme behind The Queen’s Classroom, school Korean Drama adapted from Japanese Drama Jyoou no Kyoushitsu. Teacher Ma Yeo Jin (Go Hyun Jung) is a very ruthless person who seems like she doesn’t care about anything, beside torturing all 25 kids who are under her care. As a homeroom teacher of class 3, she is very harsh (no toilet break for her student who suffered from stomachache? that’s unacceptable!), strict and discriminating her students based on their grades.
But unlike her cold-stoned look, she deeply cares for her students. She only wants the best for them up to the point of exhaustion – she fainted because she dedicates all her time researching, “stalking”, analyzing her students’ behaviors. Sometimes it’s creepy to see her following her students’ every move, like a stalker who follows her next victim’s daily life. But it’s because she doesn’t want her students wasting their precious lives. She fully understands how cruel today’s society is and she doesn’t want any of her students to experience any unfairness in their lives when they grow up as adults.
She wants her students to grow up as people who find their own path based on their talents & abilities and change their lives for the better. She believes that the teachers should teach and give problems, but it’s up to the students to find their way out & the best solutions for these problems. She challenges her students to think outside the box, to fight with her idealism and to find their way out themselves. Sometimes it’s not easy but she has successfully taught her students to raise up against all the challenges. Teacher Ma herself has a very painful past, she lost her son in an accident and she was put in jail once due to misunderstanding with her student. She prefer to be the bad guy, unappreciated; but she never let her painful memories dictating the love she has for her students, as she believes children create miracles. And it’s her job as their teacher to ensure these miracles will happen in their lives.
Teacher Ma always deals with her students truthfully, the truth maybe ugly and hard to accept; but it’s better than pretending, lying and regretting it in the future. She never let any questions unanswered, she’s strict when something bad happens but she never forget to complement her students. Every single student learns valuable lesson from Teacher Ma.
Some may find The Queen’s Classroom a bit unrealistic; especially the bullying part. Kim Do Jin, who bullied Son In Bo & hit him with basketball & baseball bat; was warmly accepted back by his classmates just as soon as he apologized to them. Bullying is not a small matter; and it needs to be dealt with properly. Anyone who bullies their friend will need to accept the consequences to ensure they won’t repeat their mistakes. But in this drama, the kids easily forgave Kim Do Jin and he didn’t receive any punishment.
Honestly, I think Kim Do Jin has already received his “punishment”. When his classmates saw all his wrongdoings, he believed he was no longer accepted by them. Abandonment, loneliness, feeling that he’s worthless are the worst “punishment” anyone would ever receive. It drove him crazy up to the point he even thought of committing suicide. Thankfully, “stalker” Teacher Ma talked him out of it and re-assured him that she would never abandon him:
“Every living thing has a right to live. Nobody has any right to give their lives up. You can’t abandon yourself. As soon as you’re born, you’re precious to someone. Don’t be scared, don’t be anxious. If you don’t give up on yourself, no one else can. You have to believe that you’re precious. Then with that heart, instead of bullying, you have to live knowing that your friends around you are precious too. You are not alone.”
The Queen’s Classroom has so many valuable life lessons and I really love how brutally honest this drama is. It addresses things that may be hard to digest, this drama is definitely not for everyone.
Friendship is the core of the drama; and they also explore the real meaning behind acceptance, forgiveness, trust and open communication. It’s a beautiful drama which teaches us that life is not a fairy-tale, magic wand doesn’t even exist. In the world we live in, a kind person usually will be unfairly treated & poor (like Ha Na!). Although we commit a bad thing or mistake, if we’re on the side of a strong person, we’ll get reward instead of a punishment (that’s the reason why Bo Mi accepted Teacher Ma’s offer and became her “puppet”). Fortunately, hope still exists. Happiness still exists when we choose to enjoy our lives in full happiness. We can choose to create our own happiness by doing things we really love. Happiness is different for everyone. If there are 100million people living in this world, there will be 100million different happiness.
Sometimes we try to run from our problems, but this drama teaches us to face our problems wisely. We’re adults, we’re not kids. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to fail. If we do our best today, we will find ourselves and we’ll see tomorrow’s dream. Don’t ever stop learning, it’s the highest privilege that only us, humans, are entitled to. Learning & studying are the process of resolving our curiosity.
Everything that Teacher Ma teaches her Sandeul Elementary School grade 6 students (age 14 yo in Korean age / 13 yo Western age) will definitely stay in their hearts forever. Although they have to prepare their hearts dealing with their scary timid “Witch” Teacher Ma on daily basis and have their own ups and downs; but in the end, their friendship stand still against all the storms. And after graduating from Grade 6, these students know they will be able to withstand everything that’s coming in their ways; and they will be able to accomplish their goals & dreams. Thank you Teacher Ma!
My favorite kids characters from The Queen’s Classroom:
Oh Dong Goo (Chun Bo Geun)
The trouble-maker who masks his painful life by mimicking comedians and acting like a stupid boy. Grows up in an orphanage until an elderly man whom he fondly called “Madame Oh” took him under his care. His young mother abandoned him when he was young, and he believed all along that his existence ruined his mother’s life. Because of his petite frame, he’s usually got picked on by the older boys. Teacher Ma gives him lots of courage to fight for his life and what he believes in; spreading happiness with his pure heart & love. He hates studying and prefer to play; but his spirit is revived after Teacher Ma advises him that if he wastes time, he won’t be able to make any excuses if none of his dream will become true after he grows up.
Kim Seo Hyeon (Kim Sae Ron)
The perfect student who always receives great grades. Courageous person who never afraid to stand up for herself and her friends. She never makes any friends, until she realizes how valuable and precious friendship is. She cherishes her friendship with Ha Na, Bo Mi and Dong Goo. Behind her perfect scores, she has a very painful life; her mother spends too much time as a good doctor at the hospital and her father is in a coma following an accident 2 years ago. I love her transformation from the perfect cold Seo Hyeon to the happy (sometimes rebellious Seo Hyeon) who pursues her dreams and makes peace with her beautiful mom.
Shim Ha Na (Kim Hyang Gi)
The fighter for humanity who re-unites her friends together, the person who always receives the blames because of her kindness & stubbornness, the one who always spreads happiness with her cute “V” sign. But she never loses her faith, she never blames the situation, she never gives up. She’s hurt repetitively by people whom she treated as friends, but in the end, the truth always prevails. And she always accepts her friends who betrayed her with open arms; with warm heart. She’s the candle which lights up the dark room.
Eun Bo Mi (Seo Shin Ae)
The outcast, a meek and weak girl who prefer to draw cartoons than studying. She knows her raw talents and utilizes it. She has a hard time choosing the side she wants to be part of. In the end, she chooses her friendship with Ha Na, Dong Goo, and Seo Hyeon. She knows how badly she betrays them, but through it all, she cherishes their friendship. Teacher Ma teaches her to be stronger, to overcome her situations with strong determination. With her assistance and support, Bo Mi realizes her passion and works hard to achieve her dream.
Go Na Ri (Lee Young Yoo)
The “polished doll” who is molded as her mother’s robot – she tries extra harder so she won’t disappoint her mother. Her mother’s unrealistic expectations drives her to do things she’s not supposed to do; putting blames to her best friend and pretending that she’s the perfect model student. She throws and sell her own self-respect and turns herself as Teacher Ma’s puppet. She realizes that once she commits a mistake & lie, it’s so much easier to lie for the second, third, and so forth times. That’s until her guilty conscience drives her to the dark corner. Teacher Ma saves her and gives her the courage to admit her mistakes and move on to the greater things life has in store for her.
I’ll close this long-winded review with a very encouraging quote from Teacher Ma:
Pic cr: MBC
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