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Say 'No' bravely

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By Hyon O'Brien

The Greek philosopher, Pythagoras (570-495 B.C.) said, "The oldest, shortest words ― yes and no ― are those which require the most thought." In last month's column I shared with you some thoughts on how important it is to say yes. This month I'd like to explore the opposite. Sometimes it is just as important to say no

My earliest memory of saying no was as a middle school student in my hometown of Wonju, about 80 kilometers from Seoul. Our biology teacher was far below average, and we all could see it. She seemed to be winging it with the textbook, glancing at each page and reciting the material. If we asked any questions not on that page, she would become flustered and unable to answer. This went on for half a year. Finally we had enough. I got the signatures of sixty five classmates and took them to our principal's office. I explained the situation and asked for a better teacher. Miraculously and unexpectedly, the principal listened to our plea and dismissed that unfit teacher from our school. This was quite a radical act in 1961. It took our class six months of suffering in a non-educational classroom before we took action. But we had to say no to a figure of authority who........

© The Korea Times