This was something I wrote for a class on multiculturalism in education, based on an article from the anthology Annual Editions- Education.
The main idea of this article is the need for those involved in education in the United States to learn about how other countries educate students, and how to incorporate those techniques and strategies here, in order to have a sufficient number of young people capable of participating in a global economy.
Three important facts the author uses to support the main idea are…
- The United States has a greater percentage of students who fail to reach grade standards than many other countries (32% of US 8th graders are proficient in Math compared to 50% of Canadian students and 60% of Finnish and Korean students.)
- Singapore and Korea have a high bar for those entering the teaching profession, with many more applicants than positions.
- Canada provides more funding for religious schools, offering parents more choices.
I’ve read about comparisons between American educational systems and those of other countries in numerous places. It comes up often in newspapers, and newsmagazines. Several textbooks have mentioned specific strategies implemented in other countries. The criticism that American education programs focus more on policy and sociological issues than on how to teach isn’t contradicted by what I’ve learned in other classes, or by the Annual Editions table of contents.
I do agree with much of the article. Education is no longer local. We need students to be able to move from one school to another without great difficulty, and we need to ensure that a diploma from one state is valid in another, given the number of students who go to out of state colleges. There are tremendous benefits to learning what works in other countries, even if there are certain techniques (Singapore’s solution to students who misbehave comes to mind) that are unlikely to be implemented in the United States.
The article is light on the difference between the multicultural United States and smaller countries with more homogeneous populations like Finland. That’s limited to a bullet point that suggests the need for higher standards, but is vague on details of what that means in a different system. The focus on meeting national standards is something that will affect every teacher, as it’s a big part of their lesson plans. If teaching is more prestigious, it can result in some teachers losing their jobs. One advantage of all these changes is that there are more national resources available than ever before, which provides more methods of educating the young.