Friday, February 8, 2013

Education: US still lags behind in International Measures

The radio show OnPoint recently aired a segment about the newly released global education rankings.
Finland ranked #1 followed by South Korea. The US came in at #17. At the following site:

one can listen to the hour-long show. In addition, one can scroll down the page and view the film, "The Finland Phenomenon" to see how teacher training and student instruction are handled in Finland.

In two primary areas, when comparing the US to Finland, there are differences:
~ School Funding: More money is put behind students who are hard to educate. All students are given equal access to the best education currently provided in Finland.
~ Teacher Preparation: In both Finland and S. Korea, teacher prep programs are extremely rigorous.

Regarding education and teacher preparation in Finland:

  1. Teachers are held in high esteem and are well-paid.
  2. Teacher preparation programs are highly competitive and prestigious. Only M.D. programs are more competitive. 
  3. There is very little testing of students.
  4. There is little homework.
  5. Evaluation of teachers, like we now have in the US, is unheard of. The teachers are trusted because they have gotten through extremely rigorous courses and exams to become a teacher. Teacher individuality and creativity are encouraged. 
  6. In classroom instruction, their aim is for teacher directed instruction to be 40% of a lesson while student active participation should be 60%. In the US, the factory model of teaching (teacher lecturing and students as passive listeners) is still widespread.
  7. About 45% of Finnish students opt to pursue rigorous training in vocational subjects that lead to employment. The remainder head down the traditional academic road in high school and post-high school academic studies. 
   Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland is interviewed. (He is the author of "Finnish Lesson: What Can the World Learn From Educational Change in Finland?")
  Pkhawa Lee, computer education professor from South Korea is also interviewed.
   Finally, Marc Tucker, president of the National Center onEducation and the Economy is also part of the  panel. His organization studies what the US can learn from international models.

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