Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Educational Change (2021) 22:589–601



Copyright © Taeyeon Kim, Minseok Yang, & Sunbin Lim, under exclusive license to Springer Nature B.V. Used by permission.


In this essay, we discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic drove key changes in schooling and what forces can sustain these changes. Responding to the argument that COVID-19-driven changes may not be sustainable, this essay offers a counter narrative from the Korean context, in which educators re-visited existing school systems and re-constructed policies and teaching practices to fill the educational vacuum caused by the pandemic. This essay specifically builds on interviews conducted with Korean educators throughout the 2020 school year during COVID-19. First, we discuss ownership of educational change as reflected in educators’ narratives. We then explore three driving forces behind the transformation of the “grammar of Korean schooling”: policy discourse about “future education,” professional teaching culture, and administration for creativity. Based on our analysis, we offer several suggestions for policymakers, district leaders, and educators around the world for how to leverage and sustain the educational changes catalyzed by COVID-19. We conclude by arguing that educators’ desires to achieve change must be actualized in schools and policies through collaborative foresight and system-level support.