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Aja Bogdanoff

Online Community Manager, TED

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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?

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  • May 10 2013: Post 1/3:
    I have experience from three different countries. I grew up and went to school in Norway, my 2 kids attended AMI Montessori Children's House (Casa) (3-6 years) in London, UK as well as Kinder and grade 2 at a private school in the Philippines.

    What I like with the Norwegian system is that it's not so competitive. Children can grow and learn without worrying about their score on lots of standardized tests. How your child does compared to other children is not really a subject of conversation. Religion is taught as a subject - but it's covering all major religions so children can get an understanding of the differences and similarities. Science is taught as it is, without interference from religion.
    However after my time they extended from 9 to 10 years of primary school without really adding anything to the curriculum. And then that's the main problem - they still have a fixed curriculum. Just like a hundred years ago, children are still fed through the same system and are supposed to learn the same things, with a few rather insignificant exceptions in the later years, where they have "valgfag" (choice of subject), where students can select between a (very) limited amount of subjects. But that's only a few hours a week. They still have to endure all the uninteresting and mostly useless standard subjects. Students that do well are held back so they won't be too far ahead of the rest - sticking your neck out is looked down upon. You should be like everyone else!

    University is free, but I did not attend it. I got put off in college (year 13/14), which of course also is free. I found that students there didn't really make an effort and were generally uninterested. Maybe because it's free, they don't value the opportunity, and instead use their student loans for partying. I hated the experience, but I already started my first company by then and none of my clients ever asked me about my education so I dropped out and never regretted it.

    (more in next post)

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