James (Hojin) Jang was raised and educated in Canada, but still Korean at heart. He is a Toronto-based educator, multi-instrumentalist, and a Jazz specialist.
What is your role at Dwight School Seoul?
As a Whole School Music teacher, I teach Music from Grade 3 to 10.
What made you decide to work in an education setting? And what is your philosophy?
Back in the University, I used to give private lessons to a variety of students. There was this one particular student, whom I remember to this day when after spending countless hours learning and practicing, I witnessed a light bulb going off in the student’s head. Suddenly the student said, “I get it!” I can never forget this particular moment. It was at that moment that I decided to go to a teacher’s college.
What do you like the most about working at DSS?
The best part is the supportive community at DSS. I learn something new each day, both from my students and from my talented, professional and supportive colleagues who I can rely on.
What are your interests and or hobbies?
My hobbies are listening to music, practicing golf, and playing soccer.
Who inspires you and how?
My family and friends.
What have you been reading lately?
I am currently reading the book, Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner. Although I have read this book multiple times, each time I read it, I learn something new in terms of finding mastery through the beauty of simplicity in the context of improvisation and when creating art. There is this concept of stepping out of one’s conscious mind into what the author calls the ‘space’, where we are present in the moment to create and perform beyond technique once establishing basic fundamentals.
What one particular social issue calls out to you and why? How do you see yourself contributing to making an impact/being the solution?
One global social issue that I like to see tackled today is prioritizing equity in education. The idea of providing the specific needs and resources to overcome each student’s challenge is important. For me personally, moving to a new country at an early age was not easy, especially acclimating to a new school. However, my music teacher was instrumental in helping me adjust to my new environment by giving me a saxophone and asking me to jam with him during lunch time. This was a turning point in my life. My music teacher’s approach is a great example of promoting equity through simple opportunity. The goals and expectations of learning are the same for all students, but the support needed to learn depends on the student’s individual needs. Taking the time to understand a student’s needs can change a life.
If you were given one wish, what would it be?
Growing up in Canada, I attended school of the arts high school, majoring in music. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by creative and talented teachers and classmates studying various disciplines such as music, drama, visual arts and dance. I wish, therefore, a time machine so that I can go back in time and hang out with my friends!
Why would you tell a prospective family to choose DSS?
Dwight is a welcoming community. Teachers focus on individualized, and personalized learning for all students.