Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts--A little rant

Keely at the UnMom is responsible for all this randomness.

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Ok, a couple of things that might explain some things about education in the US:

I was reading an article about how the students in Finland come out on top.  The summary of it is that students are taught to be self-reliant, competition between students is minimized (no comparative tests, no wondering who has the best grades), they are in school less and do less homework than many of their European and US counterparts.  Consider this:

Finland downplays educational competition in a number of ways. Schools aren't ranked against each other, and teachers aren't threatened with formal reviews. At many schools, teachers don’t grade students until the fifth grade, and they aren’t forced to organize curriculum around standardized testing. Gifted students aren’t tracked into special programs, invited into honor societies, or chosen to be valedictorians. Instead, struggling students receive free extra tutoring. After ninth grade, students attend either an academic program (53%) or vocational one (47%) — this flexibility results in a 96% graduation rate, dwarfing the United States' measly 75%. Finally, since there are no private schools to speak of, there’s no sense that the best students are being skimmed off the top.

Overall, such attitudes go hand in hand with Finland’s socialist-style egalitarian society, which focuses on meting out fees and services according to need rather than merit. Even parking ticket penalties are determined according to income: A wealthy sausage factory heir was fined $204,000 for going 50 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone!

And teachers are well respected.  25% of the students want to be teachers in Finland and only 10-13% actually can become teachers.  Teachers are allowed to make and follow their own lesson plans and choose their own books, based on a loose national curriculum.  Teachers feel their work is creative and self-expressive.  They are paid well--$45-50 for elementary, $75-80 for secondary.  The gist of it is that the country of Finland is resource poor, so they have put their money behind what they can develop, the minds of their youth.  Even so, they only spend $7,500 per student and the US spends an average of $8,700.

Then, I saw an article about the worst paying college degrees.  Ahem!  Elementary education is considered the second worst paying, and education in general rates at seventh.  Can I just say that this country really does not care about education?  I think this country cares about making lots of money.  And if it's only a few people who make lots of money, so be it.  Many have worked hard to get there, but sometimes I think that salaries are out of whack.  Really, do professional sports players NEED to make millions?  Do movie actors and moguls also NEED to make millions?  Do top CEOs really NEED to make all that cash in bonuses and incentives on top of the salary they make?  I was just struck by these two articles I came across just minutes from each other.

My May is incredibly busy.  I have birthdays to remember, Mother's Day was in there (and it was nice by the way), events, recitals, soccer ball games, swim lessons (still), it's just one thing after another and I'm afraid I will forget something.  Well, I almost forgot my niece's one year birthday bash!  Sheesh!  She was born on Mother's Day last year, so I am sure her birthday will always be a challenge to remember along with all the Mother's Day cards I try to send out.

Oh, and just for those of you that think Mother's Day is just another Hallmark made up celebration.  In 1905 Anna Marie Jarvis wanted to celebrate her mother after she passed away on May 9 of that year.  In 1907 she had a Sunday service in honor of her mother in West Virginia, and a larger celebration occurred the next year on May 10th.  The year following, West Virginia declared it an official holiday and other states followed.  On May 9, 1914 Woodrow Wilson declared it a national holiday to honor those mothers who lost their sons in the war.  And so it continued.  Luckily for us, unlike Anna, we can honor our mothers while we and they are still around. And remember those that are not.  (Thanks to Wikipedia)

That's all for today, I have a big post for tomorrow.


Aliceson said...

Education is one of those things that we Americans can't seem to get right, at least in public schools. I often become frustrated with our local public school (for a multitude of reasons) and wish there was another choice that was affordable and non-religious. Some days homeschooling looks very appealing...

May is busy for us too. I guess we'll have to push back that afternoon get-together for another month. But really, we should do it this summer!

Wild Child said...

We will! We will! I've been thinking about it already. Will let you know once I convince my husband. I know he'd like to tinker with the Gardener.

Beta Dad said...

Scandinavia is pretty much a frozen paradise. I know a number of Finns and their all really smart.