TED Conversations

Aja B.
  • Aja B.
  • New York, NY
  • United States

Online Community Manager, TED

TEDCRED 20+

This conversation is closed.

For non-US TEDizens: Can you tell us about your country's education system?

This week's special on American TV, "TED Talks Education," focuses on problems in US schools.

So here's the place for non-Americans to share: What's an issue in your country's education system that you'd like to see a TED Talk about? Who would you ask to speak? Do you have any success stories to share?

Share:
  • thumb
    May 14 2013: I'm from Malaysia. I went through the system, ending with a degree in education. I'm a bit sorry to say this, but as soon as I read the question, this word came up: Crap.

    It really is crappy. The only saving grace, as I believe many of you would be agree too, are some truly dedicated teachers. They do great work despite the system. As for the rest, I rather not say. I'd say though that one of the reasons I decided to do education was to prove that I could do better than them.

    When I did my practicals, I was disappointed and frustrated. Having learn so much great stuff in the course, I found myself being stifled by the system. It's as if the whole system was set up with the concept of administrative convenience: Just follow the syllabus.Things have to be standardized. The system kills creativity. It dampens the teachers' enthusiasm.

    To free myself, I cheated. I didn't follow the syllabus. The students loved it. I loved it. It didn't feel good just copying words from the syllabus book into the teachers' report book, but I could live with that better than being a boring teacher.

    I'm not working as a teacher now, but in some ways I'm still a teacher as a Buddhist monk. If I did become a teacher, I wouldn't want to be working in a school. (I believe the headmaster wouldn't want me there too.) You can expect me to do something out of the box.

    Now I was told that it has gotten far worse. Kids are being bombarded with tons of homework, and so are the teachers. With so much reports to write, teachers are being worn out. With that, they would have less energy for the students. Then students will find schools boring and irrelevant, which is largely true.

    So, now you agree that the system is crappy?

    I agree with Ken Robinson: We need a revolution.
    • W T 100+

      • 0
      May 14 2013: Are you sure you are talking about Malaysia?
      Because it sounds alot like my country.

      This is a worldwide epidemic then.....it's a good thing that many educators, such as yourself knew that to truly teach, you must do what your heart tells you....and not what the syllabus tells you.

      Thank you for this wonderful contribution.

      Did you have a favorite teacher growing up? One that sticks out in your mind?
      • thumb
        May 14 2013: Epidemic, indeed. Sadly, there are too few people here who thinks there's a need to change. The education (with the help of traditional Asian culture) has been quite successful in molding lots of robots, I must say.

        I've managed to convinced my brother to have his kids home-schooled. It's technically illegal here, but good thing the government don't see it as a threat--yet.

        Yes, one teacher really stands out. Really dedicated. His enthusiasm was palpable. My friends and I would go to his house on Chinese New Year.
        • W T 100+

          • 0
          May 14 2013: "The education has been quite successful in molding lots of robots, I must say"

          I have heard this many times.
          I have also seen, and in this case I speak about those who grew up in Japan, since I lived there, where Japanese adults are insulted if you compare them to others.
          They want to be seen as unique individuals, not as similar to anyone else.
          I have seen this several times.....and it has really caught me off guard.

          Homeschooling? How wonderful. I also homeschooled two children, I am a teacher, so it was kind of easy for me, and my children were willing participants.
          There are so many wonderful tools to use on-line.

          Thank you for your reply Kumara, and how wonderful that you had a teacher who invited you and your friends to his house. How very wonderful.
  • thumb
    May 13 2013: In India we are following the system British gave us 300 years ago, Britishers might have changed the system but we are sticking on to it with some changes. This system is perfect to make worker bees.

    Worker bees were needed to run the Empire and now to run but not develop the country headed by greedy and corrupt leaders.

    We need Queen bees.
    • May 13 2013: Nice anology Adesh..
      Adding to it, what we need are few Queen bee's and then the multiplier effect of them in creating others...
    • thumb
      May 14 2013: I'm from Malaysia, As Malaysia was colonized by the British too, our systems are probably similar. We also have the commonality of "greedy and corrupt leaders". It works very well to suck the life out of people.

      I'm happy to see education reinvented in India though, like the Riverside School. If you have not, see http://www.ted.com/talks/kiran_bir_sethi_teaches_kids_to_take_charge.html
  • May 9 2013: I'm a foreigner living 20 years in Japan. I have 2 children in the school system. In kindergarten I was very highly impressed at the teachers here. They spent hours preparing foe the next day. Teachers really cared about their students. Later in elementary school I became a little less so. My daughter was one of a few students that helped get a teacher kicked out because she was texting while in class. Kids at this age start going to Juku, cram schools. They are BIG BUSINESS here. Sigh! In the JHS and HS levels kids keep going to juku so that they can pass a test so that they can get into a better next level school. The aim is getting to one of the name universities. The aim there is to be a public servant or try to get employed by a name company such as a Sony or Panasonic, etc. there you end up working many hours of overtime...not always paid.

    The system is very politicized. There's no moral, spiritual education. (The Japanese 'common sense' is something to be understood here). Japanese, as people have seen especially in international sports are very nationalistic. They don't care about events so much. What is important is that if a team represents their country, they win. Sigh.

    Book education, regurgitating what is said by the teacher, memorizing, etc., all are part of the schooling diet. Little practical knowledge. The purpose is to be a functioning member of a producing-consuming society. After a few generations of studying English, the international language, relatively few have mastered it, much less are confident using the language. Teaching it is a $20 billion industry. It's business. I sell you my book and system.

    It's a very peaceful nation which needs a new paradigm. I wish they would turn in the direction of the Finnish system. So popular is it here that the Finnish government has/had(?) a page of their education system translated into Japanese. Whatever. It's a work in progress, I say. :)
  • thumb
    May 13 2013: Japan.
    In our country education is too specialized on making students mark a high score on exams to obtain enrollment rights of authoritative top universities. Children are forced to repeatedly train answering questions rather than truly solving problems. This is the case after the university enrollment, except that the lectures are slightly advanced. We don't really much have discussion or presentation classes.

    In this information age when most of simple tasks can be easily automated, what schools should cultivate is not just knowledge but the ability to find a real problem and think about how to solve it. Japan's current education system undervalues creativity. But according to Sir Ken Robinson's popular TED talk and its comments, this problem might be common at all across the world...
    • thumb
      May 13 2013: Thanks for your comment.
      I totally go along with you. As you pointed out, critical thinking, analytical viewpoint or something like that is the thing that the school has missed out. Rote memorization might be essential to some extent, but the important thing is how to educate children to withdraw, combine and put into practice what they have learned in school. I think the focal point for future education in Japan is how to make the transition smoother.
      • Matt K

        • +1
        May 13 2013: True what u guys saying. I was a kindergarden teacher in jp and the amazing thing is that these young kids were all smiling agile behaving with no difference to German kids.

        But when grown up, u can feel the difference. Japanese people much more calm and at work wait for olders boss instruction without so many questioning. also learning so many kanji seems to be an inefficient waste of time compared to alphabet.

        learning no latin and religion is an advantage compared to Gemany, however. I also like the idea of nationwide university entry exam.
        • thumb
          May 14 2013: >>Matt K
          I think it is true that children in Japan are more obedient than those in other western countries because most of us have been brought up to learn that there is a single answer to a solution and the person who worked out the answer (and often are extrapolated to teachers or people older than you ) is absolutely right.
          Learning Kanji is sometimes bit boring and looks time-wasting, but I think it is important process for us to realize our national identity and the unity as a country. Kanji is a fundamental part for a lot of Japanese culture. That must be the same case in German to learn Latin and religion.
      • W T 100+

        • 0
        May 14 2013: Masatakesan konichiwa,

        May I ask you a few questions?

        When you were in elementary school, did you use Math books?
        If yes, was your Math book very thick, did it have many problems?
        Were the books colorful?
        And were you shown word problems throughout your Math courses?

        I guess I am interested in How you learned your Math, and what role your teacher played in the instruction.

        Domo Arigato Gozaimasu for your kind reply,
        Mary
        • thumb
          May 14 2013: >>Mary M.
          Thank you for your questions.
          In Japanese public school, we are supposed to use textbooks authorized by MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology). So, I used a math textbook.
          The following URL will help you see what it looks like:

          http://ten.tokyo-shoseki.co.jp/enetap/kyouka/math/digi-contents/2A44/index.html

          If my memory is correct, I think there were almost no word problems because I guess a number of editors review the textbook over and over again and if they find mistakes they correct them immediately before it is published.
          The characteristic of the textbook is that only the essence of the math is described on it in both good and bad sense. Hence the volume of pages is reduced at minimum level, which is around 150-170 pages. That also means that whether students can understand math largely depends on capability of teachers. Actually, I didn’t like math until I became a high school student because my teacher just stood in front of me and spoke repeatedly what was written in textbook. It was boring enough for me to space out.
          Two more things to add are we usually use a textbook and a drill separately to complement the lack of problems in textbook and the ideal role of teachers is encourage children to connect surreal mathematical essence to everyday phenomena, I think.
      • May 14 2013: my experience here as a junior high school teacher in japan is the same. i teach every class but only once a week. in first grade when i ask the students something new they'll have a guess, but by 3rd grade they have stopped using their brains and have become dependent on having things explained and taught, so they can only answer "i don't know" until a teacher tells them and they remember it.
        • thumb
          May 14 2013: >>Ben Jarvis
          Your experience clearly shows their laziness to use the brain, and actually this downside can be seen among lots of students in each phase of school (even in university!) except for a small number of students in top school. I know there is a gap between bright students and others, but the gap we are seeing now is well over what we can allow. The most shocking word I ever heard is “The students here(my home university) are brain-dead”. It was really shameful.
      • thumb
        May 14 2013: Wow so many responses! :o
        Looks like many are feeling the same thing about Japan's education.

        One of the biggest objectives in education is to provide thinking tools and encourage students to think in their own brain, but the reality is the exact opposite. The current educational form of unilateral teaching makes students passive and reluctant to study more, as Matt and Ben put it. In my opinion motivating children is a difficult task and cannot be achieved without collaborating with their family. So future education should be something that educates parents as well as children. This is ironic.

        Last but not least, it is intriguing to know education systems in other countries, their pros and cons, and how overseas people view our nation's education. Thanks Aja for hosting this awesome conversation. :-)
        • W T 100+

          • 0
          May 14 2013: Tomoshigesan, Konbanwa

          You state that "In my opinion motivating children is a difficult task and cannot be achieved without collaborating with their family"

          Just how involved is the family in the education process?....I am interested in the elementary years. Do parents help their children with homework? Is there alot of homework in the elementary grades Tomoshige? Do the parents go to the schools and volunteer throughout the day?

          It seems to me, from my 25 years of being a teacher, both in the states, and working for the gov't overseas that although parental support is important, it is the teacher who truly motivates and inspires children to love learning.
          It takes a dedicated passionate teacher to do this.

          In the conversation I am hosting on "Teacher Appreciation" you can read comments from all over the world on what we adults feel was a special teacher while growing up.

          http://www.ted.com/conversations/18204/in_honor_of_teacher_appreciati.html

          I invite you, and anyone else reading this comment to read the replies offered there, because I think there is alot to glean from looking back through time, and to come to an understanding of what exactly makes a Great Teacher...........I think you will enjoy the comments, feel free to leave your own, if you have had a special teacher.

          Domo Arigato Gozaimasu Tomoshige.
          I await your reply,
          Mary
        • W T 100+

          • 0
          May 15 2013: Heelo Tomoshige,

          Yes, that was Anna....she listed her parents.
          Our parents are definitely our first teachers.

          And yes Tomoshige, some parents need 'parenting classes'.
          These types of classes exist here in the United States.

          There are Mommy and Me classes which many hospitals and private agencies, and public libraries offer to first time moms to help educate them in being a parent.

          There are also alot of books that you can read on your own. The problem is Tomoshige, that we live in a material world. Many parents think that just by buying their children all the things the other children have is enough. (i-pads, i-phones, wee, etc.....)They do not realize that what children need is love and nurturing, and to have a head start in learning new things, before school starts.
          This is sad, but it is the world we live in.

          As a long time educator, and as a mother, I see so much that needs attention, I try to help whenever I can. I try to lead by my example.

          I lived two years in Japan, but because my nihongo was not good enough, I could not have a deep conversation with any of my neighbors who had small children. Talking to you and to Masatake has been so refreshing and interesting.

          I did visit a Japanese elementary school on a field trip with other educators that worked in my school. That was a great trip, I still have the pictures I took. I learned quite a bit about how the school was organized....but again, not knowing the language, prevented me from asking questions.

          There is alot to say on this subject, ne?
      • W T 100+

        • 0
        May 14 2013: Masatake, thank you for your wonderful reply and link.....I really enjoy seeing this.

        I had heard before that the books in Japan were much thinner than the ones in the United States.
        So I am glad you confirmed this information.

        I am however, very surprised to hear that there are not so many problems inside the book. And also very disappointed to hear that the teachers will repeat just what is in the book and not explain or ask higher order questions......in Math especially, it is so important to show many ways to understand a single concept.

        So, just to clarify this point on word problems, this is what I mean by word problems:

        http://www.abcteach.com/free/w/word%20problems%20set%20g.pdf

        I hope you can open the link.
        So are these kinds of problem solving questions part of all the Math lessons taught in school?
        Are they found in the textbooks?

        Thank you for patiently answering my questions Masatakesan.
        Your insight is most valuable to me.

        Mary
        • thumb
          May 14 2013: >>Mary, M.

          It might be inappropriate to say that there are not so many questions in textbook, because this impression came from comparison between the textbook I used in elementary school and the one I’m using now in BS course in university. For more reliable comparison, I need to check out the text designed for elementary school students in your country. The only thing I would say, however, is the number of questions is totally inadequate if you’d like to pass the entrance examination for junior high school.

          I was a bit confused with the meaning of word problems you’d like to say. I’m sorry. Actually when I was an elementary school student, I solved less word problems than the children nowadays. You know word problems are very useful to raise awareness of math hidden in daily situations and to foster applicability of math. MEXT realized the benefit of adopting more word problems in textbooks after I graduated. So, the curriculum and the lecture style might be completely different from what they used to be. As far as I know, we come to see more number of word problems than before but I cannot tell you how they are delivered to children in class now.
      • thumb
        May 14 2013: Masatake, there is not one math textbook for the whole country in the US. When I taught math not so long ago, our kids from age 10-14 in my whole urban district used books that were paper-back, about seventy pages long, and with three holes to fit in a binder. They were almost entirely word problems. After they finished one such book, the teacher collected them and issued another little book. I think that series was the most widely used series for the age group in the US, but there are always multiple series to choose from produced by different publishers.
      • W T 100+

        • +1
        May 14 2013: Masatakesan, thank you for your explanation.

        I am glad to hear more "problem solving" questions are being included in the curriculum.

        Yes, it is very beneficial to have these kinds of problems, as early as kindergarten (age 5), because they help to really see if the child is grasping the comprehension of the mathematical operation, and it is higher level cognitive exercise, with "real world application" practice.

        I, personally, enjoy these types of questions the most.

        私はこの会話にあなたの貢献に感謝しています。
        世話をする
        Domo Arigato Gozaimasu.
        • thumb
          May 15 2013: Thank you Mary for suggesting another wonderful conversation. What impressed me in the conversation you are hosting is that someone listed her parents as great teachers. That is what I wanted to mean. I would say school is not all of education. You questioned how family are involved in education, but for infants parents are, in a wider sense, the closest and most influential educator and are kind of an information hub. Take language acquisition processes for exmaple. Babies become (probably unconsciously) interested in what parents speak and eventually start learning words. If adults surrouding a baby spoke nothing at all, he or she wouldn't be able to acquire a language. Parents are much involved in education, whether consciously or unconsciously, in ways that give their children some curiosity in their daily lives and preliminary knowledge for that. But parents aren't really taught how to educate or discipline children at home. That's a big problem, given the fact that even schoolchildren spend more than half of a day at home. This is why I think we need to educate parents.

          As for homework, elementary school students surely have some (but not too much) of it. But I don't want to say parents should help children out with just finishing it. As you said earlier, what's important in education is not give children the answer but help them grasp the real comprehension of what underlies what textbooks say.
  • thumb
    May 9 2013: What baffles me is that the Education system almost nowhere in the world include in syllabus Ethics, Philosophy and Morality from young age of learning. What is the purpose of any education if it does not encourage free and critical thinking on the foundation of a reason-based ethics/morality?
    • thumb
      May 9 2013: "What is the purpose of any education if it does not encourage free and critical thinking on the foundation of a reason-based ethics/morality?"

      This is a difficult issue.

      I agree that encouraging thinking and individuality as a result should be the core, but it should go hand-in-hand with ethics/morality with humanism at its foundation.

      I agree, Philosophy should be present in education systems, as morality and ethics are most often there already, unprejudiced and non-biased. One should not wait til college to learn about Aristotle, Plato, Confucius and other great thinkers the world has had.

      "Reason-based ethics/morality" - I'm a bit unsure about this term, what do you mean?
      • thumb
        May 9 2013: Reason-based ethics/morality = Ethics/morality arising independently out of pure reasoning and not faith based religions. The Sam Harris kind.

        Yes morality and ethics are there but the stress is on religious faith.

        I agree on your point of humanism. But with a caveat. A clear border should be drawn between humanism and anthropocentrism.
        • thumb
          May 9 2013: "Reason-based ethics/morality = Ethics/morality arising independently out of pure reasoning and not faith based religions."

          Ok, I understand better now, I was unsure as I thought that this term itself could be misinterpreted and misused against people of other faiths. I would add - encouraging not be attached to previous presuppositions especially if they can be harmful, either to the individual or other groups around the individual.

          "Yes morality and ethics are there but the stress is on religious faith." - what do you mean? It can be attached to religious faith, but shouldn't be, can be freed from it.

          "I agree on your point of humanism. But with a caveat. A clear border should be drawn between humanism and anthropocentrism."
          I agree.
          Gandhi said that you can see how moral the nation is by looking at how it treats its animals.
          However - if a nation treats the animals well, but not the humans - is it moral?
      • thumb
        May 10 2013: Morality and ethics that spring forth from faith based religion have an absolute, unchallenged, divine authority of God, in a sense of meaning that God is the ideal of morality. Problem with this idea is that there are sevral versions of God and therefore slightly different versions of morality. Sometimes these slight differences can grow out of hand. I personally find the unquestioning submission somewhat scary.
        Yes it can be freed. But it is not being freed to my satisfaction at least. Religious morality is here to stay for some time more, IMO.
        Gandhi's idea of non-violence and basic human dignity with a frugal lifestyle were remarkable. However his ideas of morality were not free from religious affiliation. Treating anything or anybody well within a reason-based morality will mean practically executable actions on the basis of the greatest common good or to avoid the worst possible common suffering imaginable. Within that framework any treatment will be fairly moral for humans and animals.
    • May 11 2013: The easy question to challenge this is whose morals, ethics, and philosophy do you teach? Those who do teach it are often criticized for their teaching of said subjects. In the states, this is a highly contentious subject in any school district.
      • thumb
        May 11 2013: When it comes to teaching - you are supposed to place morals, ethics and philosophy of all major authorship and source without attaching any qualification to those. You are also supposed to place all evidences, records, facts, events or connections to lead to those without favoring any of those. Then, if you are teaching really, encourage the student to think and decide for himself/herself which of those makes sense to him/her.
        When it comes to teaching you are supposed to ignite young minds to take none and nothing as authority.
        This is the essence of education for any country for all time.
  • May 9 2013: Hi everyone I'm from Viet Nam. 18 years as a student, I found myself lucky to be teached by many great teachers. In my country, not everywhere can have schools, especially in the surburb.
    Education is one of our big problems because of lacking of teacher and suitable teaching way. Actually, our teachers are not only good but also energetic, they always want to teach us everything which is necessary for our lives, conversely, they have to follow the structure, that makes some of student don't have enough skills like presentation, talking in front of crowd, solving the problem... The student must learn a lot but they can't remember anything, moreover, knowledge is learnt by heart and not reality
    Besides, the teacher is now having poor salary, some do two jobs. There is a shortage of supporting teacher, that lead to the absent of them or spoil the education
    Our country now is trying to fix everything. I hope someday we''ll a better teaching way.
  • May 9 2013: Hey Aja!
    I am an American, but have been living in the Netherlands for more than 20 years. I went to an International School here in Holland which was based on the English educational system, and my kids attend a small, local public school.
    The Dutch education system: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_Netherlands

    Children are 'officially' required to start school at the age of 5, but 'group 1' actually starts at age 4.
    Before that, there is a sort of pre-school where kids are welcome from the age of 2.

    Education is divided into three categories - public, religious and general-special schools, which are government financed. There are also private schools, but those are few and far between and considered very elite.

    After elementary school, kids 'graduate' to an sort of introductory year, to prepare them for high school, literally translated, the 'bridge class'.

    Based on the advice of the elementary school and the results of the aptitude test (called the "CITO" test), a choice is made for one of three levels of further education: vmbo, havo or vwo. Kids who enter a certain level can move up or down in the levels, depending on their aptitude and based on a specific grade average.

    Vmbo: "preparatory middle-level applied education"
    Havo: "higher general continued education"
    Vwo: "preparatory scholarly education"

    After high school, there is another tier of levels for higher eduction:
    Mbo: "middle-level applied education"
    Hoger Onderwijs: "higher education" - split into applied science (hbo) or research universities (vo)

    Critique of the system is the dividing of students at such a young age (12) by means of the aforementioned CITO test, but not performing any kind of IQ test. I agree, education here is based on rational and cold-hard grading, instead of following the creative and personal aptitude of the child, which is an international issue in education!
  • May 15 2013: Hi! Also from the Philippines:

    Just today, our government passed into law the K-12 program, which would extend school from ten years to twelve. It's been a controversial change, actually, and a lot of people here are still uncomfortable with it. The argument is that extending two more years of school would put heavy financial strains on parents who usually cannot afford to let their children finish schooling (less than ten percent of Filipino children will graduate from college).

    The problem with education here is really money. Parents can't afford to send their kids to school. The government can't afford to give teachers good pay, much less build new classrooms and buy new equipment. Schools have morning classes from 6am-12noon and afternoon classes from 1pm-6pm just to accommodate students. This leads to teachers who are underpaid but overworked.
  • May 13 2013: I'm from Italy. There are a lot of problems concerning education. As far as I can tell, the most compelling ones are:
    1)Teachers. Their status is getting lower and lower. They receive one of the lowest salaries among developed countries, and they are often called "slackers" by a big part of the general population (often small entrepreneurs) and sometimes even by members of the governing body. If we want our professors to be motivated, this attitude must change.
    -Complete lack of feedback. One of the things that emerged from Bill Gates and Ken Robinson's talk, is the fact that the best students come from countries where a feedback system has been implemented. Teachers watch each other's lessons, and then they suggest their colleagues what they should do to improve their performances with their students. Nothing of that sort exists here.
    2)Study programmes. One day a Canadian friend of mine came over to visit me and he was just baffled to the amount of homework I have to endure. Italian school system makes its students spend much more time in school than other OCSE members, and the results are anyway poor, and they have gotten increasingly worse over the years according to PISA tests http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment. That is also because the students cannot really focus on important things to learn, so the often end up studying bad, or not studying at all.
    3)Private schools. This is a real scourge. There are a lot of rich and incredibly lazy students who attend those schools, the only thing they have to do to pass is to pay their dues. This is incredibly unfair. Since you can also catch up with the years you have lost when you fail to pass in public school. In just one year you can catch up 3 years, and then you are back in your old classroom, with your old mates and the teachers who once flunked you.
    4)Disastrous cutback. Billion of euros have been cut back in recent years. This has led to make everything even worse
    • May 14 2013: it's annoying how much pisa tests skew actual education. ok so you know and understand a lot, but can you do anything with that? comprehension is only the first step to something meaningful. ask a high scoring pisa test student something new and you get "sorry i don't know, i haven't learned that yet."
      • May 14 2013: I think you are wrong.
        You say that comprehension is the only first step to something meaningful. Comprehension of what? The FIRST thing to do something meaningful is to acquire the proper tools to comprehend something. And school gives (better still, it should give) these tools. For instance, if you are not capable of understanding the mechanism of maths equations, you cannot solve problems. If you cannot even write the data, then you cannot even set the problem correctly. Let's make it even simpler. If you do not speak English, you will not understand what I am writing. You need skills to understand the message I am posting, and PISA tests measure these skills in different subjects. The more you get those skills the more it's likely you will do something meaningful (I wrote "likely" not "sure"). In fact, there is a strong correlation between Global Competitiveness ranking and PISA test chart.

        http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-competitiveness

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment.

        I also suggest you should watch this astounding documentary on Finnish education. Among other things, It also examines the correlation between economic competitivness and PISA test scores.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70AlyhEGWf4 (you'll find on youtube the other 3 parts)
        • May 14 2013: Dear Ben and Mike, excuse me for interference. Skill, competence, capacity of
          comprehension, but what does this word mean?
          Nella didattica tradizionale della conoscenza si ammetterà che quei contenuti assunti come entità intuite rimangano inserite in un alone magico suscitando l'impressione di trascendere le capacità del discente. Ne sorgerebbero imbarazzo, frustrazione, dalle quali si fuggirebbe con l'aggressività, la paura di toccare ciò che resta affidato alla pura ripetizione letterale (mnemonica). Si comprende pure come un 'Non ho capito, non capisco, non capirò' blocchi emotivamente il giovane, e che da questo blocco possano discendere l'apatia, l'ozio, l'ipocrisia, la furbizia.Si dispone di una strada nuova? Ritengo che la risposta possa essere affermativa. L a strada c'è anche se non ancora messa completamente a punto: si tratta di una didattica che si avvalga dei risultati ottenuti nello studio della vita mentale -la logonica o terza cibernetica o metodologia operativa- svolti da S.Ceccato e si precisa in un programma anche di minima. Nell'intento di individuare un oggetto, di definirne il nome, le domande che si pongono tradizionalmente sono nella forma di 'Che cosa è?' Si consiglia di sostituirle, se l'oggetto non è fisico, cioè da definire con analisi e sintesi fisiche, con una domanda della forma 'Che cosa fai? quando usi quella parola, prima di pronunciarla, quando la capisci. Che cosa fai con la tua testa, nella tua testa?' La risposta può venire trovata, essere corretta o sbagliata o anche non venire trovata e quindi la domanda restare sospesa. In ogni caso tuttavia la svolta è stata compiuta, nel senso che il COSA E' ci vuole pronti a partecipare, a fare nostro quanto segue; sì, sì...ma occorre chiamare a partecipare, a sentirsi attore in seguito ad un operare in proprio, ricco e adattabile alla propria originalità di frammentazione attenzionale. La scoperta di una propria testa che lavora è il regalo più bello per il giovane ...
        • May 15 2013: and what's meaningful about the tools? once you have the tools and comprehend, then what? so what if you can solve problems? if you can write in english does that mean you have something meaningful to say or an intelligent idea?

          it should be no surprise that the biggest drivers of the economy contribute little to improved lifestyles. life isn't about profit, and competitiveness is meaningless big-business baloney. it's innovation that pushes society and quality of life forward. the application of skills is important, not possession of them.
      • May 15 2013: Only if you have tools, you can solve problems, and only if you can speak the likelihoood of saying something meaningful enhances. (If you can't even speak, you just won't say anything, let alone say something meaningful).

        And, most of all, only if you work hard with the proper tools, you can innovate and improve the world. Competitivness is not meaningless, if you mingle it with collaboration. It is possible. In Finland teachers were able to create an exercise aimed at making students collaborate and be competitive at the same time (again, watch that documentary to understand what I am talking about).

        "the application of skills is important, not possession of them" I agree with this statement, in fact, this is what I have been trying to say.
        • May 16 2013: nope having the tools is only the first step. you have to be competent in the application of those tools. being able to work out what tools, where and how to use them are necessary.

          if you work hard with the proper tools you'll achieve as much as anyone else has before and no more. innovation necessarily means that there are no tools because it's new.

          if that's what you've been trying to say, then do you mean that you agree the pisa test is of limited value because it doesn't test the goals of education?

          i agree that finnish education is great, but the pisa test is not an accurate measure of that. you'll notice that countries that focus on rote learning such as japan, korea, and china recently scored higher than finland on the pisa test. give a finnish student a problem they've never seen before and they'll probably be able to work it out, give the same problem to someone here in japan and you'll get "i'm sorry i don't know, i haven't been taught this."
      • May 16 2013: “nope having the tools is only the first step. you have to be competent in the application of those tools.” PISA tests are meant to measure how competent students are in the application of those tools.

        “if you work hard with the proper tools you'll achieve as much as anyone else has before and no more.” This statement is false. You never develop new things from scratch, you always need some form of acquired knowledge or instrument.

        PISA tests are not perfect, but they give the government a clue about what to improve. You know much more than me about Japan, and if people over there do memorize all the results without understanding anything, then their score at PISA test is invalid, because Japanese students are basically cheating. Although be aware that 40 percent of the Italian population do not know that the sun is a star. Are you really sure you are more incompetent than that? A population with no basic knowledge of this kind is bound never to produce enough scientists, and this is what has been happening.
    • May 14 2013: Gent.mo signor Mike, il Suo intervento si presta a qualche riflessione critica I)E' proprio sicuro che per migliorare lo stile scolastico corrente sia sufficiente pagare di più gli insegnanti? II) Per fortuna i problemi non dipendono dagli allievi che, in generale, sono curiosi, plastici e disponibili, ma dal MODO di porgere le materie (Ceccato docet!). III) E' il pregiudizio classista o quello anticlericale a condizionare il Suo giudizio sulla scuola privata?IV) Se i tagli del bilancio della pubblica istruzione in Italia riguardassero la burocrazia della scuola -incluso certo personale di manovalanza come ad esempio i bidelli...- che siano i benvenuti!
      For all other, I am sorry if I Speak Italian, but... Thank you.
      • May 14 2013: Carlo,
        È per questo che hanno inventato Google Translate!
        • May 14 2013: Dear Lizanne, I want to thank you heartily for your work.
      • May 14 2013: Gent.mo signor Carlo, La ringrazio per il Suo commento, è utile per precisare il mio punto di vista sull'argomento. Poiché Ha letto e risposto al mio intervento precedente, desumo che Comprenda l'inglese. Per questo cambierò lingua affinché tutti possano capire. Se ci sono problemi tradurrò in italiano.
        1.I have never said that raising teachers' wages is the only sufficient measure in order to improve education in Italy. I mentioned that issue along with other five, so it goes without saying that that measure alone is not sufficient. But it is something that is to be done. Why? Because our teachers' status is extremely low, and if we want to motivate them, we must treat them better. Raising their salaries according to European standards is one of those things. But above all some Italians must change their frame of mind: teachers are not slackers, they are future makers. In countries where education works, teachers are much more paid, respected, and well treated http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70AlyhEGWf4 (I recommend you watch this documentary about education in Finland).

        2. I agree with you.

        3. My personal experiences have shaped my outlook on private schools. When I attended high school, I had few classmates flunked. One of them enrolled at a private school, and in just one year course she caught up two years, getting right back with her former mates, whereas other students couldn't afford this school and they were forced to get the degree a year later. The student I am mentioning didn't get smarter in one year, since when she came back she was as incompetent as before. That is simply unfair. Others go as far as to take the final high school exam in private schools, and they get extremely high marks, which, most of the time, they don't deserve. There's also a new regulation concerning entrance exams, basically students who get a good high school final mark will easily overcome those who don't when taking e.g. medicine entrance exams.
      • May 14 2013: 4) I tend to agree with you, although the money the government cut back was not to reduce the number of janitors, but the number of essential services. E.g. in my university there are not enough chairs, chalks, microphones, and a lot of other essential items and there is a lack of floor and toilet cleaning. (It was like that before too, now it got worse).
        • May 15 2013: that's terrible. how do you feel about that when billions of dollars worth of subsidies go to well-established and very profitable multi-national corporations?
      • May 15 2013: Bad would be an appropriate answer.
  • May 10 2013: Romania.

    There are of course issues to overcome unfortunately there are only a handful of people struggling to overcome these said issues. The Goverment is trying to raise the system to a survival level but there are just so many useless subjects that must be eliminated and so many issues about the curriculum to be solved at least in the lower classes.

    Children start school at the age of 6 the first grade is a new addition is meant to help them improve and prepare them for real curriculum. It merges the kindergarten with the actual school study process. There are 4 classes of lower gymnasium followed by another 4 of upper gymnasium and then highschool. After the 8 gymnasial grades there's a national exam taken by the pupils. At the end of 12th grade there's another one. The subjects here are awful since they haven't changed much in let's say 30-40 years. Most of the teachers got bored and they don't want to teach the same old crap every year. The changes so far have been less fortunate and they brought chaos rather than solving anything.

    College is a bit of a fresh air. I love it at least but there are issues as well, still rather archaic subjects. However the greatest loss is the lack of research programs. So far at a national level there are only for psychology it and some sort of technologies. however not near enough funds are granted for research and a lot of the potential is wasted. For the others you're paying your own research.

    The education is free up to college. The college system is half state founded half private. There are a lot of private universities but unfortunately those substandard. The educational system has a lot of potential but it is wasted due to the lack of long term plans. Honestly some of the decisions taken by the goverment are so rash that they appear to be taken at random. I've no links to prove my point just my experience so far. And that is presented above.
    Thank You!
  • thumb
    May 10 2013: I'm Vietnamese and I'm a senior student now. Actually, education systems inVietnam are really bad, from primary school to university. All students. not just to me feel angry with teaching methods in Vietnam. Im my country, to be honest, you can be criticized if you don't have bachelor or something like that. One thing is the best that bribery happends at univerities where need a fair environment.
  • May 10 2013: Post 3/3:
    My experience from the Philippines is the complete opposite of that of AMI Montessori in London. The education system here is antiquated and should not be reformed in any way, it should be thrown out and a new one should be built form scratch. Public schools are a disgrace, where one teacher is supposed to teach up to 50 children by writing things on the blackboard and, if they have enough money, through textbooks. Occasionally you have teachers that really care and want to make a difference with their students, but that is not supported by the system of hundreds of useless standardised tests, and an ill-contrived curriculum based on the already poor American system.
    The children, from age 5, are though to be competitive, being aware of their class ranking already from that age - as if that mattered at all!
    On top of this, despite the fact that the Philippines, at least on paper, is a secular country, every school is drenched in catholic dogma, with praying multiple times a day and little snippets of how they should pray to god sneaked into the text books, which are already over filled with useless information. Why do second graders need so many books that they can's even carry their backback? Private or public - students are taught to sit still and listen and copy what the teacher writes, and made to believe that there would be no morality if it wasn't for religion. Religious dogma is taught alongside science, while the inconvenient parts of science that contradict dogma, like evolution, is gracefully ignored, as not to upset the priests. Even their report cards, which by themselves I find distasteful for so young children, contain an entry for how god-fearing the children are!

    All in all, I think the Philippines would do a lot better if they shut down the public school system completely and made a law that prevented religious organisations from starting schools. Religion and school simply do not mix, they're polar opposites.
    • thumb
      May 10 2013: In the Philippines, we are thought that teachers are always right and they are figure of authority. Do you agree Sir Ronny? ")
      • May 10 2013: Yes, but you do not need to call me Sir. In fact I prefer you not to, as I am not your boss or ruler, but rather your peer.
        It's not your fault though. I get called Sir all the time even though I'm just a simple person with no royal blood, knighthood or anything like that. I know, it's the country's past being a Spanish colony and later an American puppet nation that is hard to get rid of, even though the Philippines is now supposedly a democracy (as in everyone can vote, but hardly any of the people available for election is worth voting for). Plus, of course it's ingrained in the culture to be polite to anybody who can potentially be older than you or in a higher position. I think this is part of the problem actually, but not the main problem. Respect should be earned, not inherited. I have not yet earned your respect, so I'm at best a peer, at worst a stranger.

        Anyway, I do agree. I get the feeling that the mode of teaching for the most part is "do not question me, just memorise what I say so you will do well on the exam!", which roughly translates to "I don't have the time nor the patience for questions - see the size of this book - I have to read all of this to you before the end of the school year! You actually learning something is not really a concern."

        The way I see it, the exact opposite would be ideal - always question authority, particularly when they offer no proof, always ask why and don't care about how others "score" - in fact there should be no score at all. Working independently or in small groups on something that interests the children at the time it interests them beats any other mode of instruction.

        Before the unscrupulous system of public schooling there was no unemployment. It wouldn't surprise me if even the word itself didn't exist back then. Parents and other adults in their vicinity taught the children.

        Very good video on the topic: https://plus.google.com/117596660984490280980/posts/5WKushx8ssR
  • thumb
    May 9 2013: I'm a 17 year old college student from Scotland. There is allot of good and bad things about the education system in the UK.I will start with the good:

    1) You can leave school at 16. This was a God send to me for a number of reasons, which I will get to in a bit.
    2) There is a number of different ways to reach your gaols such as practical training courses where you may be in college a few days a week but in piratical training the rest of the time.
    3) Our education is free for the most part. All your education is paid for with no problem up until highers then after that you can go to a funding company who will pay your fees for you.
    4)There is allot of funding. If it wasn't for my education maintenance allowance which gives me £30 a week I probably wouldn't have been able to go to college and have an active lifestyle. I don't go out much but I do think the ability to leave the house at the weekends is important, which if it wasn't for my EMA I wouldn't have been able to do. Next year since I am moving on from the highers program and will be 18 I am getting a bursary and perhaps a student loan as I'm not sure the bursary will be enough and I don't know if I could handle a job on top of a full time course.

    Ok now the bad parts of the education system:

    1) Some schools have very little verity in their classes. This was once of the reasons I went to college so I could actually learn something useful and interesting.
    2) Secondary schools have students age 11 to 18. This causes older students to be treated as if they were children and I think really holds them back and it also means that younger students are exposed to drinking, sex and drugs much sooner than they might if they weren't in school with older teens.
    3) The way the new system means that some kids may leave school without any qualifications.
    4) You are only taught how to pass exams.
  • May 9 2013: In China, education is totally a disaster. It contains too much political issues and instead of making it a nation wide plan for preparing the future of the country, it is done more like a profitable business either primary education or universities. The education system is providing less and less chance for the poor people to change their lives and those who are really wealthy are sending their children to other countries because they don't trust the local education. Just like the financial situation of China, the education system is also facing a big risk of crushing.
  • May 9 2013: Hi to everyone at TED and as they say in the Eurovision Song Contest, welcome from London.

    To summarise my thoughts on the UK school system and what changes are required:

    1. Whilst strides have been made by teachers and parents in terms of preparing children for the challenges they will face in their futures, the National curriculum is still little more than a feeder system designed to create loyal, subservient, worker bees.

    2. Entrepreneurship should be a subject in its own right whereas it is not encouraged or often even discussed. Local business "stars" (not corporate executives) should give talks to children from the age of 11.

    3. Human relations should be the glue of all learning. It should be taught and practiced daily. This is a huge subject but to summarise this relates to selling, public speaking, self confidence, self esteem, relationships and the list goes on. Intellectuals who scoff at this should always remember that any great idea can only be related by the ability to sell it, as evidenced by some of these wonderful TED Talks. These speakers had to overcome fear to learn how to sell their ideas and thoughts. None were born with this gift.

    4. The true nature of the monetary debt based system must be taught to children from 11 onwards. How to handle money and real economics are vital for their survival.

    5. University education should be free. Currently young people are being pushed into a decade of debt after they graduate. This is immoral and it does not have to be this way despite what we are sold by governments.

    6. Technology must be at the heart of he education system. The drive to create a technology based society that works in harmony with humans and nature, whilst allowing us to explore space is the only way to ensure our longevity as a species and create real quality of life for future generations.

    7. TED talks and similar lectures should be required learning.

    Much to say as you can see. Best wishes to all.
  • thumb
    May 20 2013: I am from Pakistan: I work in a public organization responsible for the professional development of public school teachers.
    Like the other countries mentioned in this conversation, our education system also faces the same issues regarding the accessibility and the quality of education. Our government schools provide free education from Grade I to X. The new National Education Policy also lays emphasis on the establishment of Early Childhood Education in public schools.
    The eligibility criteria for teachers’ selection in public school are almost the same as practiced in India. Private schools do not demand professional teacher education courses for selection. There is no system of teachers’ professional development in most of the private school. On the other hand, in public system, the newly recruited teachers are given induction level training and then they take continuous in-service professional development courses.
    But problems regarding quality education are more severe in public schools and in middle class private schools as compared to high-fee demanding elite private schools. The later ones have systems of check-n-balance and feedback over teachers’ performance. The second major cause of poor quality education in public schools was textbook-based teaching. In 2006, revised educational curricula laid emphasis on child-centered (inquiry-based) teaching/learning. The new textbook policy 2009 introduced Multiple Textbook System in which textbook boards (formerly responsible for the development of all textbooks) are to establish a competition among private publishers and then to select and adopt the best developed textbooks. In this way we are having better quality textbooks which will divert teacher-centered learning to child-centered.
    Our revised educational curricula also emphasize on changes in the examination system. As per the new curricula, the examination systems are required to develop questions related to higher order thinking and application of knowled
  • May 18 2013: Hi Aja:)Being a teacher,I really like my teaching job very much.So I must keep thinking:what is the so called:education often.even though I often been tortured by the question:)
    China is such a large country:)I meant it's population.Meanwhile China is also a such country which has long long history.I have to say:we are deeply educated by our history culture.
    A few days ago.We complained again about our educational system just focus on exams orientation.We tried to discuss frankly if there is any better way to get a balance in our country's educational system.The result is:all have to admite:so far,we still need to keep on the same orientation in education system...it concerns a lot.I think I am not capable to discuss it clearly yet,I still need to keep on seeking,thinking...Because it isn't just about eduation system,it concerns a lot...
    Anyway I always feel it deserves to keep on thinking,never enough...thanks for the offer of topic.
    • thumb
      May 18 2013: Hey, how is going? I think you should try it anyway!
      What kind of exam are you talking about? Those ones to get in college (like S.A.T for the U.S and blah blah blah), because if that's what you are talking about, that is the same issue that we have in Brazil, the colleges forget that we have a life out of school, we are based merely on a test that tests more than 13 subjects.
      People may say that that's good because very selective, but it is "dumb", those tests are great for robots, we have to memorize every formula, every rule, and we cannot use a calculator. The problem of those tests are that they cannot measure leadership, social work or anything that is not related to a pencil and a paper.

      Best regards, Pablo.
  • thumb
    May 18 2013: Hi, I like this topic a lot, and I believe that I can share something good about it since I am an exchange student from Brazil.

    In Brazil we cannot choose what classes we want to take, we just take all classes that they require us to take, in my private school they were: Portuguese Grammar, Literature, Composition, English (Lit/Gram.), Philosophy, Geography, History, Arts, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Education and Religious Education and Citizenship Education. And those are pretty much what they teach in the public too.

    People of all around the world (I became aware of this talking to other exchange students), not only from Brazil, believe that the U.S high school education is horrible, but I don't like to agree with that, I believe that the AMERICAN students are the ones who are not doing the good job here.

    In contrast with Brazil, the American high schooler has the freedom to choose what classes he is going to take, and focus on 5, 6 or 10 subjects that matter, and if he does not like one of those, he can just drop it and take something else, isn't that great?! Yes it is! In Brazil unless you are a genius you will never be recognized for your high school achievements, our school system just kills creativity and competition!

    Let’s suppose that you are taking algebra 2 and chemistry, you are so good in algebra 2 that you believe that you can go to pre calc, in U.S you can do that, and stand out in front of your peers and if you hate chemistry, so you decide to drop it and take physics, or other science class that you enjoy. In Brazil, you would have to stick with chemistry while you are being hold back in algebra 2.

    In the U.S you can surround yourself of AP classes and create or join clubs at your high school and earn credit for college, something that it’s not even remotely encouraged in my home country as it is in the U.S just because your high school career and extracurricular activities does not mean anything to the colleges.
  • May 16 2013: hii aja,
    Hope you are doing well..
    Education is a great topic for debate..however,i feel the responses will be much more filtered, if you specify the nature of school..Are we talking about Primary school(class 1-10),Secondary or high school (10-12th) or Graduation...
    The nature of responses will vary according to the type of school..
    • thumb
      May 16 2013: Why don't you subdivide your response in that way instead? In some countries Primary school is grades 1-5 or 1-6, some places have grade 1-8, where you live, it seems, have 1-10...

      Why don't you comment on your grades 1-10 and then also 10-12, if that is what you have?
      • W T 100+

        • 0
        May 16 2013: You're not going to believe this, but I typed this same answer to him this morning.....then I Cancelled it because I thought it would be better to let Aja respond....and here you are saying the exact same thing.....

        "Lead by example"........the best type of leadership.
        • thumb
          May 16 2013: Aja has a big job, much of which is behind the scenes, so I think when one of us can offer a workable solution, it is just as well that we put it out there.
  • thumb
    May 16 2013: To elaborate more on the issues in Indian Education System, highlighted by Krishna in response to this conversation, following are my personal thoughts for this very important question:

    I would not blame the students or their parents completely for having the salary-oriented-degree-education perspective that they have. I think, India, as a developing country for the last 50 years so, is still in a transitory phase where money plays a very crucial role. Especially, when you have the worlds second largest population to cater to for the three basic necessities of humans - Food, Clothing and Shelter.

    If in this 21st century of Information Age, where on one end, you classify your country as a superpower in IT and Software Technologies and on the other, you struggle to pass an all important bill like "RIGHT TO FOOD" or "RIGHT TO EDUCATION", its difficult to understand the direction we're moving as a country.

    The majority of students in professional courses like Engineering, Meddicine, Law etc in India belong to the larger Middle Class of the economy. Their families have to shell out lacs of rupees to get their children enrolled in these prestigious courses, even if they have a high merit ranking. This is due to large number of private universities, government reservation systems based on caste, region etc. This, in way, makes our entire education system unfair for a huge part of our population. Not to forget, the reservations in government jobs, parliament etc,

    So, a students enrollment in a course ends up becoming more of a banking investment for the parents rather than a basic noble right of the child to get educated in thier fields of interst. To put in very simple words, "SUCCESS in EDUCATION, IN INDIA, HAS BECOME MORE OF A COMPULSION THAN BEING A DESIRE".

    So, when we have families ready to treat their children as investment commodities, you'll always have business people trying to make a university on the lines of an assembly line for manufacturing degrees.
  • thumb
    May 16 2013: in Iran
    The entrance exam for the university"konkor"just it is importent
  • May 15 2013: Well Vaneesh, this whole trend following and Rat race, Especially in India, is the main reason for lack of Educated people. People are in a constant rush and they neglect the REAL Learning: Learning of Values, Exploration, Knowledge, Wisdom etc.
    I see there are many guys in my own College who have diverted from the path of Engineering and gone into many creative fields like Music, Photography, Journalism etc. If they were not Pushed in this Rat Race from the beginning and they were given the information to explore choices and the Time and Space to work them out, they would not have wasted their 4 valuable years of youth into some Engineering course that they, probably, are NOT gonna use in their 30+ years of Work Life.
    But that won't happen in India. Because everybody are scared about Competition, that they might fall behind all their peers and that the new batch of people will be equally, or more, tougher to compete and beat into a successful career. My Dad keeps telling me all the time that every year you waste a new batch of at least 5 lakh potential competitors will emerge. They will be equally or more intelligent, smart and talented than you. So you have to go with the flow or else you will be dominated and defeated.
    Education in India is all about career. Why don't the schools start teaching C, C++, Java etc so that the Children can directly start their career without wasting much time and energy on those subjects that they don't use in their life at all? This is a Rat Race, where Businessmen create so called training grounds (Schools) to make competitive rats, owners bet on their rats and spend millions of money on their training which actually teaches them a lot of unwanted, unused stuff. And the Owners just want their rat to make back the money invested in it. This is called Education in India nowadays.
    Nobody cares what the RAT wants to do. All it wants is to be FREE and EXPLORE its options before taking steps. Education has become JOB-MAKING nowadays.
    • thumb
      May 16 2013: Hi Krishna, you've highlighted on of the most common problems in India w.r.t to Education as an industry and the outlook that students and their prarents tend to have in general towards education.
  • thumb
    May 15 2013: I would like to share some of my observations of our education system in Pakistan.
    Being a school teacher for last 3years, what I have come to know is that education is clearly not the no.1 priority of government in Pakistan. Selection of a school- public or private, is a social constrain and could be attributed to what class of social setup you belong to. Private schools do provide a better quality of education as compared to public schools but at the expensive of the life-time savings of parents. Education of children is more of a constrain and burden on parents. In private sector ,selecting a school for your child is just like selecting a branded product. The bigger the name of school, higher the fee and double the expense. Also private schools lack proper infrastructures. Majority of the schools are set-up in small, congested houses. In such conditions, healthy grooming of child is not possible. Because of the high transportation cost people are bound to send their children to nearby schools. they don't have much of a choice.
    Another issue that needs to be addressed is that teachers are badly underpaid and they do not have the kind of reputation which this profession actually deserves. People here do not pursue teaching as their life-time career. It is always taken as part-time or temporary job. these people are less committed and their main focus is on earning money rather than building the skills and knowledge of children. this attitude for the past two decades have severely damaged the reputation of school teachers.
    I believe that rigorous reforms are required to strengthen the education system in Pakistan.
    • May 16 2013: Hii Maria.great to read ur comment..i am from India..

      education is something which cannot be left to the govt alone.be it any developing,country..so expecting reformss,4rm govt is sth which is not,going,to,see,the,light of the,day so early..
      I think wwhat we need are some dedicated teachers who constantly believe dat change will happen..all you need,is constant perseverance...trust me,ive seen it happening..in low income schools..that too 3rd graders...
      • thumb
        May 16 2013: Thanks for commenting ... I believe that there is a lot of inequality in our system. It needs to be eradicated not just from the system but from the mindsets of people. Why I put responsibility on govt is due to lack of funding -not everyone can afford the expensive education.
        • May 16 2013: Changing mindsets n systems take time..to do that u hv 2 b d part of the system.have a first hand experience of the flaws..
          nothing is going 2 move,trust me not even a bit by assigning responcibilities 2 govt..
          youth hv 2 get involved..n believe me,ive been volunteering in a low income private school in Hyderabad..all you need yo do is get started..change will happen..dont depend on govt to act..
        • May 16 2013: As regards expensive education,I believe u got to get started in a low income school,empower the kids,improve their performance levels..n prove to the community thay no matter what happens,kids r nt gng 2,leave school..
  • thumb
    May 15 2013: G'day Aja

    Australia: Our government is making it harder & harder for teachers to function properly for example they have a professional development day which all the teachers I am in contact with say is a waste of time. There are so many guide lines & regulations that teachers have to abide by these days that take up even more time, how are teacher supposed to function properly.

    I’m not a teacher myself but I have tutored which follow the same guide lines & the paper work is ridiculous, no wonder some teachers are finding it difficult to teach as they can barely function. The smartest thing to do is simplify teaching don’t complicate it more.

    It is also obvious our universities are lagging as well, so many people are complaining about the people who hold degrees these days in jobs they know little about obviously & by the looks of it it’s getting worse.

    On a more positive note, our teachers are doing a great job over here, as good as their allowed.

    Love
    Mathew
    • W T 100+

      • 0
      May 15 2013: Oh, Mathew, I just realized you were on holiday when we had a conversation about "Schools of the Air" in Australia.

      If anyone is interested in learning a little bit about this aspect of Australian education, here is the link:

      http://www.ted.com/conversations/17939/school_of_the_air.html
      • thumb
        May 15 2013: G'day Mary

        I read through most the replies & links, quite interesting stuff.

        Thank you Mary.

        Love
        Mathew
  • thumb
    May 14 2013: Greetings from Greece!
    You are not going to read good things about my country's ecucation system from me as I am only writing the truth and as a new member I want to get really active. So I will start stronly and sharply. Overhere there is only an iconic, wrecked and hateful education system. I am a student of a Junior Hgh School in Panorama, Thessaloniki and I have to say that my school has a good fame to which I have contributed really much too. There are usually our teachers the ones who are said to do everyting so as a school make his own fame but I really try to change things like that. Our system always used to focus on teacher's work but lately has started something with good perspectives which focuses on us, on students, but it is going to fail. And that is going to happen because when the education system says that teachers should be the guidings and students the achievers, which means that teachers help students find the knowledge and not to give them the whole knowledge ready to be memorized, then teachers must believe in students and mainly have the right mood to do something like this because it is a really hard thing to do. This example is just nothing in front of bad-written books of improtant lessons which are published for studens, lack of PROFESSIONAL teachers who know how to deal with teenagers or little kids, lack of technology, lack of facilities and so more things. Just imagine how many things I could write about our non-sense examinations in Junior High School and High School which destroy psyhological situation of teenagers and make them study so many hours that they are ready to quit from all their hard work or do the opposite which is to make them unable to study and in the end they fail in examinations and they are stagnant so they have to reapeat their grade. It is true that I burn up when I am thinking of thingslike these. I hope you are luckier than me but I still thank God for what he gave me.
    What do you think about all these?
    • W T 100+

      • 0
      May 15 2013: I personally am exhausted reading this information.

      Sounds pretty bad. What do your parents think of it?
      Was school any different when they attended?
      • thumb
        May 15 2013: It is kind of nice to know that there are people who understand me. I could write so many things about our education system that would make you feel that it does not even exist. I will answer you questions straightaway. My parents understand the situation until a grade so they want the better for me and that is why we are going to move in another country. I love my homeland, I can try and I will succeed in saving it but I will not let my own country make me get worst or destroy me. Anyway I thank God again and again for those I have as my parents lived in worst years. Teachers were hitting the students with rulers or they made them do unpleasant things such as standing with one leg for hours. They did not have our facilities or our technology but they were learnt to be polite,disciplined and to have a good behaviour and a good apperance something which is mythical for the teenagers at least in my country. As you can understand my country did not made any remarkable progress.
        • W T 100+

          • 0
          May 15 2013: I think that what you are describing has occured in many countries throughout the world.
          The good thing is, that now we have technology.

          Professional educators, who are passionate about their work, have access to so much wonderful ideas from other fellow educators from around the world.

          One such place are the Teacher blogs that many dedicated teachers write, in these, they include alot of pictures and ideas for lesson plans.

          Regardless of the type of teaching style that we are told to use, a teacher who loves her work and does her work out of love of teaching, most likely is already using that style......Part of the time we teach...direct instruction-------and part of the time we fascilitate------inquiry based instruction-----other times we just let the kids have fun and learn on their own.

          We are also psychologists, therapists, nurses, conflict mediators, we do it all it seems.
          Konstantinos, thank you for your experience, and for answering my question.

          Mary
      • thumb
        May 16 2013: I thank you Mary as you describe very nicely the way that some teachers work, this amazingly passionate and productive way. This afternoon I had a great little fest with my team, an opening to the society day of our little youth team named "Future School". I have been seeing the great passionate work of teachers just how you desribe them for many years but they alwyas were 1 or 2 amοng hundreds. It is sad but all things go from little things from the basement to the great things the suite of the whole block of flats.

        Thank you again both Mary and Fritzie
        You can check out our website and you can get more informations contacting with me www.eduact.org
        • W T 100+

          • +1
          May 16 2013: Konstantinos, thank YOU for sharing your educational system with us TEDsters.
          We really appreciate it.

          I wish you much success in your endeavors.
          Thank you for the link also, I will go read through it.

          And remember, that it is not only teachers that suffer from the ills of lack of passion and dedication, it is a worldwide problem not mutually exclusive to education.

          Be Well, Mary
    • thumb
      May 15 2013: Do you know what sorts of training teachers get before becoming teachers? I understand what you mean about teachers switching from a teacher-centered model in which they tell students everything (this is called "direct instruction," but the nickname is "sage-on-the-stage") and the student-centered way you describe (sometimes called inquiry-based, or constructivist). If teachers were trained in the first method and not the second, it can be hard for them to teach in the second style. You do need to understand the age group better when you teach in the second style, because kids will be talking and working in groups and the teacher needs to make judgments about many things as they happen.

      It is a good change to make if teachers can learn to do this effectively. I taught in that style for about fifteen years, particularly to kids about your age.
      • thumb
        May 15 2013: I have to thank you Fritzie as I did not know how were these methods called. Teachers here were really well trained for the first method but now that the education system wants them to teach us with the basis of the second method they can not deal with it. The responsibilities are issued and now they are in big trouble. The bad thing is that there are no state resources so as they get some training. Anyway, good students seem to like this method and to have a good progress and they widen their horizons but it is harder for those who struggle and it does not seem to have positive results. Now that examinations have come and a whole Summer is in front, I hope that the education system do something to help both teachers and students!
        • thumb
          May 15 2013: What you notice is part of the reason there is such tension in schools in deciding on pedagogy. Many students do not seem to do better in a way that examinations can measure with the second method, particularly if the teacher is not highly skilled. Parents often prefer and argue strenuously for, the traditional method, which also works for some but not others.
      • thumb
        May 16 2013: This whole thing is really worrying me as we do not know if it will have good or bad results and this moment can someone understand very easily that the basis of the second method has not been made correctly and the outgrowth may be terrible!
        • thumb
          May 16 2013: It is important to experiment with pedagogies, but also to remember that different students respond to different methods and that some consistency is also important. Anyone who thinks this is a simple challenge and that people just don't have the will to fix it, or have personal reasons not to fix it, is oversimplifying. Teachers are very different in their talents, which is also a factor.

          I recommend that you, or someone in your group, read Bransford's How Children Learn. This is the best starting point, I think, for understanding what pedagogy should do and what the best strategies are, based on the best available research.

          When you are really trying to work on this issue, as you are in your organization, rather than just to talk about, it is highly valuable to become acquainted with the research.

          One really important thing is that you can be fooled by what students seem to be able to do in the short run, because people have to use material over time or they will forget it. Retaining learning in the long run actually requires structural changes in the brain that come only from repeated application of ideas, preferably in connection with other ideas rather than in isolation.
      • thumb
        May 16 2013: I really can not agree more! You are so right but it does not seem that in times like these our education system, and how more our whole state system, could make such a succeful change. Please tell me your opinion about our group. We really want to wide our horizons generally! We made a lot of things this year, first season. We did our theory action and we fullfilled our golas for the first season!
  • May 14 2013: here in japan it's actually quite stagnant. it seems to be a very cultural thing, it's not so much that they don't like change but that they can't comprehend it. show them some new way of teaching and they'll love it, then ask when we can start implementing the change and the answer is always the same: that's not how we teach in japan.

    it seems to be an unequivocal respect for elders and 'masters' at the root of it all. learned university professors teach all the people wanting to become teachers, and author every single one of the textbooks accepted by the ministry of education, so it's unsurprising that here everyone gets taught the same way they all wee in the 60s: the teacher teaches and the students listen and take notes. the logic is that if students put in enough hours they'll understand and pass the test, and as a result they do comparatively well on multiple choice standardised tests (which is why they are so high on the world rankings) but really can't write a standard basic essay well at all even in their native language, let alone apply any of what they learned. it's frustrating to see so much potential wasted by refusing to call a dinosaur a dinosaur.

    also i should mention there's preferred university course placement, which is a terrible detriment to the country in my opinion. universities in generally have results-based entrances, but they also keep places for high school they have a relationship with where school can use a recommendation to get students in without taking any test. even worse, some universities have started running their own high schools, which guarantee a place at their university. couple that with the fact that nobody fails to graduate (anyone who fails gets offered make-up tests which give them enough marks to graduate) and of course you get students who can coast all the way to their degree once they get in at age 15.
  • May 14 2013: Hi. I'm from India.
    I have graduated from Bachelors in Engineering from one of India's top educational institutions last year. Although my Major was in Electrical engineering, right now I'm working in many interdisciplinary fields, trying to develop technologies that will allow us better understand our own bodies.
    When I think about education, it reminds me of the Business called Education. In India, right now Education has become a Venture for making money. I see the only motivation students are given is that they "need good education to do a good, high-paying job."
    In a many states in India, parents and students are obsessed with getting an admit in IITs, India's Best Engineering Colleges. There are a few coaching institutes that provide programs like 7 year long IIT coaching. Are you Kidding?
    In the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, there are 120+ colleges/deemed universities per City with many new colleges being opened every year.
    "Get a software job with a BIG package, or go to Indian Institute of Management." "The starting package is 20 lakhs p.a. and it will scale to 2 crores p.a. within 2 years," say many of my friends, when I ask them why they would want to go to an IIM. The other option is to go abroad and do an MS/PhD. All in order to get a good, high paying job.
    Even in the school, students are constantly told to study and prepare for exams and marks. WHERE IS THE EDUCATION?
    In India, everybody want a Safe and Secured Life. Hence, nobody explores any field different from the trend of their locality. There is one guy who sets a trend and everybody follow him. There are very few people who like to explore into uncharted territories.
    I find that we are taught chapters and lessons and theory in our country, but there is no room for exploration, stimulation and knowledge. For example, in my school, I was the only Fool asking questions. The other students used to tell me to quiet down, to just by-heart and get marks.
    Is it called Education?
    • thumb
      May 15 2013: Quite Right Krishna!!! Indian Education system was probably better off earlier ... well let's say around 18 yrs ago... at least the burden of entrance exams was not too much and the term EDUCATION could be understood... teachers had the time to TEACH and the children had the time to UNDERSTAND.... with Liberalisation coming in and population explosion..the government came on a backfoot and never knew how to handle the situation....
  • May 13 2013: The Philippines
    For decades we have followed a 10 year basic education program. 6 years in elementary school and 4 years high school. No pre school. No kindergarten. No middle school. When an american student graduates highschool, afilipino student graduates a 4 year college course. But the problem in our old system, we have to spend a year and a half in collegelearning stuff we should have learned in basic education wasting college time and not guareenteing decent jobs for high school graduates. Today, we replaced it with a k+12 curriculum, with a kindergarten, 6 year elementary, 4 years Jr. high and 2 years senior high. Senior high acts like a vocational, a pre-college course. You can choose technician/vocational, academic/sciences and arts/sports which is a pre college specialization. Last year our government launch the new curriculum and I am one of th pioneer batches, one of the first grade seven students. I hope thus works.
  • May 13 2013: The Netherlands

    As a US expat living here who has raised 2 children, I have experienced both systems. Although the Netherlands still scores relatively high on math and reading skills of primary and secondary school pupils, in the past decade the system has become increasingly "Americanized." The policies of center-right governments have eroded the professional status of teachers (measures included lower salaries and reduced qualifications). The result: despite high unemployment among recent college graduates in general, a severe shortage math, science and engineering graduates is now strangling industry in the Netherlands. I assume that this is at least partly due to the lack of qualified science teachers in secondary education and a lack of basic science skills among primary school teachers. They impart the information needed for pupils to pass the standardized exams, but fail to provide the inspiration that leads students to a choose a university education in science or engineering.
  • thumb
    May 13 2013: Hi Aja,
    Greetings from India.

    All those Asians from India you see in the offices of New York have been on the pinnacle of educational merit. They leave India for better life, This is the brain drain.

    At home in India education system is valued by the government as well as individuals. Free primary and secondary school education churns out huge number of educated people every year; educated, despondent jobless people.

    I understand the anguish of Geoffrey Canada, I agree with Sir Ken Robinson on how education kills creativity. Salman Khan's video education, efforts of Daphne Koller and Jimmy Wales should have kindled hope. However, the tragedy in India, the world's largest democracy, which houses world's 1.27 billion people and boasts of top class ancient universities (Nalanda & Takshashila 5 BC), is dearth of jobs.

    Learning doesn't get converted into earning.

    Ashok Koparday