If we can often look at the education of other countries, maybe we can know whether we are the smartest child in the world, without having to judge the quality of education by American standards.
Part of the content is organized from “The World’s Smartest Kid“
In China, most international schools, including early childhood education centers, are modeled after schools in the United States, and actively advocate the concept of Mei’s. Compared with public schools, these international schools have three very distinctive features. First, they don’t pay much attention to mathematics; second, they put particular emphasis on children’s initiative; third, teachers have no pretensions and are willing to get along with students like friends. These three characteristics are exactly the opposite of traditional Chinese education, so they are particularly attractive to Chinese parents. By the same token, if parents have been immersed in articles about “how good is American education” since their children were born, then they are especially prone to complain about China’s education system. Think you are like this? I hate interest classes, I hate preschool literacy, I hate reciting poetry before school, I hate math Olympiads, I hate the college entrance exam that is set for a lifetime…
How good an international school really is, I haven’t experienced it myself. But how good the American education is, I have seen different views put forward by many Americans themselves. To give a few examples.
Chinese middle class yearns for American children to be able to sleep alone early, but the author of the best-selling parenting book Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us (Parenting Without Borders) on Amazon in the United States compares the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom. After the country’s babies fall into the habit of falling asleep, they think that the American way of doing it is not good, and it is more conducive to the growth of the baby to sleep in the same bed with the parents.
Chinese parents always feel that American children have been playing since childhood, while their own children have been struggling to learn knowledge. However, in the book “Unequal Childhood”, the author found through a series of research that middle-class children in the United States did not enjoy much free time. On the contrary, in the lower-class families in the United States, children are like sheep.
Chinese parents now strongly agree that the pattern of parents determines the pattern of children, but Americans have written a book called “The Myth of Parenting,” which refutes this view, arguing that parents do not influence children much.
Chinese parents yearn for a Harvard education, but a Harvard student wrote a book called Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class. In his eyes, Harvard education is simply a game played by the rich.
Chinese parents feel that American education is so good that they must let their children go to study at a young age, but in the book world class education, the author believes that many countries in the world with outstanding economic achievements have achieved education Great progress has been made, but the United States is still standing still.
You see, American education is not as magical in the eyes of Americans as it is in the eyes of Chinese people. Thoughtful people in the United States often ponder the inadequacy of education in their own country, and the objects they compare with are other countries in the world. That kind of introspection is why I love The World’s Smartest Kid. Its author is a senior American journalist who interviewed a number of international exchange students, and mainly wrote about the exchange experiences of three of them and their feelings about being educated in a foreign country. The three exchange students went to high school in different states in the United States, and they exchanged to three countries: South Korea, Finland and Poland. So this book, in fact, compares the similarities and differences between American education and these three countries.
In the book, the author has a sentence that particularly touched me. He said: In every country and region I have visited, people complain about their education system, which is a strange but common fact. No one is completely satisfied with a certain policy, and education reform has always been carried out amid criticisms and accusations… So the complaints of the Chinese are not an exception.
In addition, there are many wonderful analysis in the book, but due to the limited space, I will divide the author’s differences in the education systems of South Korea, the United States and Finland into 8 aspects (Poland is far away from us). , let’s not list it first). We can see which country China is most like, and which country the author believes has the best education in the world.
In America, more than any other subject, math is an escape from students, even those from well-off families. Compared with other countries in the world, the content of eighth-grade math courses in the United States is roughly equivalent to the level of sixth or seventh grades in other countries; when compared horizontally by the same measure, the eighth-grade students in the countries that perform best in international tests The math content is equivalent to the level of ninth grade in the United States. If you are not good at reading, most Americans believe that reading skills can be improved by studying hard or by changing to a better teacher. But math is considered an innate ability, like having two joints.
In South Korea, math classes usually go very smoothly. It’s all questions, and students answer, as if math had become the language they used to communicate. As in Poland, South Korean students are not allowed to bring calculators into the classroom, and students have mastered quick mental arithmetic skills. Koreans never take shortcuts when it comes to math, and they owe their high marks to hard work rather than talent.
In South Korea, as long as you get a decent score in the college entrance examination, you can enter the top universities in a logical way. Therefore, getting into a better school always means paying more than others. And no one gets admitted because he is good at a certain sport or because his parents graduated from that college. The college entrance examination was originally a selection system for cultivating elite teenagers, but it turned into a system for adults to settle down. Competition has become an end in itself, rather than an incentive to study hard.
Some children in high-income communities in the United States are also forced to study day and night in order to get into the Ivy League schools and, of course, to prove that they can score high on the test. However, in the United States, the phenomenon of blindly pursuing rankings and scores is not so Generally, this can be seen in the consistently lower math scores of children from wealthy families in the United States. American education has low expectations for children, and the reason American children don’t study hard is because they don’t have to. American courses are also always easier than other countries.
In Finnish high schools, students have to really study hard to prove that they really know these things. For them, a good education is the only way to go to college and get a good job.
About the exam
All countries with significant educational achievements hold a unified university entrance examination at the end of high school. Exams in Finland last three weeks and total about 50 hours. If there are candidates who need to go to the toilet in the middle, teachers also need to follow the students to the toilet to ensure that the students do not cheat. There are two days in total for the Finnish test. On the first day, students need to read several short essays and discuss them. On the second day, students have to choose one of the 14 topics and write an essay. Finnish students usually take regular in-class exams.
In the US, it is hard to imagine taking such a difficult exam. Students take the SAT and ACT for similar purposes, but they are not difficult and are not part of the school’s own exams. Many states have a variety of graduation exams that don’t require much effort. pass these exams. About after-school tuition
In South Korea, too much competition has led to an over-focus on test scores and an over-reliance on private tutoring schools to an unhealthy level. 70% of students choose to study off-campus. In 2011 alone, Korean parents spent nearly $18 billion on cram schools for their children.
In the U.S., only 15 percent of U.S. high school students participate in tutoring, which is lower than the average for developed countries. Finland’s education model is far superior to South Korea’s. The Finnish government spends much less per student on school than South Korea, and only 10% of Finnish children choose to participate in after-school tutoring. Finnish students have more free time than American students, not only because they don’t have much homework, but because they rarely exercise or work part-time.
Relative to the United States and most countries, South Korea already has high-quality primary school teachers. Elementary school teachers in South Korea are among the top 5% of the top 5% of relevant applicants at 12 universities across the country. However, the quality of South Korean high school teachers is not as impressive as that of elementary and junior high school teachers. The government has allowed too many colleges and universities to train middle school teachers. The lowering of standards has led to an overall decline in the prestige of teachers, and the quality of teaching is mixed.
To become a teacher in Finland, one must first be admitted to one of the eight reputable teachers’ colleges. The selection conditions are very strict. It is a very honorable thing to be admitted to a normal college to participate in a teacher training program, just like being admitted to a medical school in the United States. Finns believe that the only way to take education seriously is to select highly educated teachers. Nearly all new Finnish teachers ranked in the top three in their high school grades, compared with only 20 percent of teachers in the United States. Because teachers go through the most rigorous academic tests, students also know exactly how good their teachers are.
In the United States, only one of the twenty educational colleges has established a strict selection system. There are many colleges that don’t have any admissions criteria at all, and anyone can be a teacher to their child, no matter how bad their own education is. This has had some bad consequences, people think that the brightest kids don’t choose education majors in college, so the teaching profession is not respected enough.
On parental involvement in children’s learning
Most Korean parents see themselves as coaches for their children, while American parents are more like cheerleaders. Korean children were given high hopes early on, and those high hopes were not limited to schools. American parents often get involved in school affairs in their own way, and argue that over-rigorous and systematic studies can rob their children of a happy childhood. By contrast, parenting in South Korea involves training and educating children, checking their children’s academics at home and urging them to work harder. This parenting style is most typical in most countries in Asia.
Finnish parents trust their children more than American parents. In high school, parents are less likely to be present at school. Students are treated like adults, and there are never regular parent-teacher meetings. If teachers have any questions, they usually only talk to the students themselves.
On the emphasis on education
Education powerhouses such as Finland and South Korea believe that only hard work and hard work can produce fruitful results. In these countries, people agree that the purpose of schools is to help students master profound and complex academic knowledge. Although other aspects are also important, teaching knowledge is the school’s first priority. Why do these countries have such a consensus? Because these countries have almost all experienced periods of decline in recent history, they all have a sense of existential crisis. However, in the United States, wealth makes people lose their hard work and hard work. Children do not need to master too profound knowledge, and they will be able to live and breathe in the future.
Athletics are at the heart of student life and campus culture in the US, which is by no means the case in most educational powerhouses. Even in middle school, American students still spend twice as much time in sports as Korean students. In Finland, schools also have sports teams, but these are organized by parents or off-campus clubs, and as they get older, most students turn their attention to academic or vocational skills, while the American model is the opposite.
About class placement
The United States has a policy in education that is unique in the world, and that is school choice in elementary school. Schools in the United States not only divide young children into groups according to ability level, but also teach different curriculum content according to different levels of grouping. Across the world, the United States is one of the few countries that has done so. In other countries, including Germany and Singapore, all children are taught the same level of difficulty in the core curriculum, and those who are more capable simply enjoy better teachers and classroom conditions.
Finland also conducts diversion education for children. But the time to divert students is relatively late, usually when the child is 16 years old. Finland pays more attention to fairness. When children are not ready, teachers cannot unilaterally hinder the improvement of students or help them grow. In this way, children have only one choice, and that is to learn. In Finland, being diverted is not a disgraceful thing. The government will invest more money in vocational high schools, and in many towns, vocational schools have the same prestige as academic schools. In fact, the more remote and unfavorable the school, the more government investment it gets.