Just finished watching Fareed Zakaria's GPS on Education. Lots of interesting tidbits in there. Here are some facts / sound bites from the show that I found particularly interesting:
In South Korea (one of the world's leading countries in education):
- Kids spend more hours per day in the classroom, and 25 more calendar days in the classroom a year than US students. By graduation (of highschool, I think?), they will have spent up to two more years in the classroom than US students
- The system is obsessed about standardized tests - kids often go to evening "cram schools" for additional studying and do so past midnight. The government has had to crack down on these cram schools and has set a curfew of 10pm for them. They send out investigators to literally look for "suspiciously looking", lit classrooms that may have activity past 10pm so they can bust them (!)
In Finland (another one of the world's leading countries in education):
- It's the opposite of South Korea - kids don't start school until they're 7 years old and spend less time in the classroom, yet they do amazingly well
- Teachers are very well respected there, and requirements for a teaching profession are quite high. They require a masters degree, and can be as competitive as medicine or law. In contrast, almost half of the US's school teachers graduate in the bottom third of their classes.
- Finnish teachers may have a slightly easier problem, though, since their student population is a lot more homogeneous. Only 4% of Finnish students are impoverished, whereas up to 25% of US students are