Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why is nobody talking about Canada?

The Ed Skeptic:

The purpose of today's post is instead to point out the lack of dialogue in the United States surrounding the high achievement of Canadian high schoolers. Newsweek, Time, and/or U.S. News & World Report runs a feature article every five minutes about cultural differences between the U.S. and [insert Asian country X with high international test scores here], and how this translates into the achievement of X's students, leaving many open questions about the social health of individuals living in X, and also, whether the U.S. would want to sacrifice its ability to foster creative, business-minded individuals who can Work in Teams and Network Like Nobody's Business for higher test scores. It seems, moreover, that a bazillion American researchers go to Finland each year on Fulbrights to find out exactly what Finnish public schools are doing. (And we know the answer: high levels of resources poured into the education system, teaching is considered a prestigious occupation and pays accordingly, but Finland is a small socialist democracy with overall low levels of poverty and a highly homogeneous sociopolitical culture, and can't really be compared to the United States in the first place. Etc.)


shareski said...

As I posted over at Ed Skeptic, we're not that awesome. Our system, while perhaps having some minor differences, is largely doing the same things the US does. We're just smaller and thus have fewer bits of bureaucracy to navigate so occasionally we can actually teach instead of playing politics. But the differences, are negligible.

Finland, from what I can do is doing things differently as a nation. THe fact their PISA results are higher is less significant to me. But of course, metric obsessed policy makers can't be bothered to explore other means of assessment that don't involve a pencil and a bubble sheet.

Tom Hoffman said...


I think you're mostly right, although US urban education is veering off in its own direction probably faster than you realize. Even in the past year things have changed a lot from my perspective.

But essentially yes, the main differences are in quality of implementation, not these high level big ideas. And the poverty level, etc., other out of school factors.