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

CEO / Software Architect, TED


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?

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    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

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      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?
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        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

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          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.
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    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...
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      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. :)
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    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...
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      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

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        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.
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          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

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        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,
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          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:


          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.
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          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.
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        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

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          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.


          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,
        • W T

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          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

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        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:


        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.

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          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.
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        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

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        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.

        Domo Arigato Gozaimasu.
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          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.
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    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?
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      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?
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        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.
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          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?
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        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.
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        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.



        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!
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    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.
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      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
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    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.
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    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.
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      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.
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    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..
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      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

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        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.
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          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.
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    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.
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    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.
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      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.
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    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...
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        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..
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    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.

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      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:

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        May 15 2013: G'day Mary

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

        Thank you Mary.

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    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?
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      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?
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        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.
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          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.

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        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
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          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
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      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.
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        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!
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          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.
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        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!
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          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.
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        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!
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          May 16 2013: I will look more closely when I have time.
  • 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?
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      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.
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    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
  • May 12 2013: I write as a Grandparent helping to raise two of my wife's Granddaughters, ages eight and fifteen, in Wellington, NZ. As an American educated in New York City and having been privileged to have attended one of the prestige High Schools in the city, I am both surprised and stunned by the difference between what Americans would call an elementary school and High School methods of education. Our younger Granddaughter attends a school that allows great individual freedom and yet conforms to the standards set by the Ministry of Education. I wish that I had the opportunity to have attended such a school at that age. Our older Granddaughter attends one of the "better" high schools, an all girls campus with a reputation as one of the leading schools in the country, yet when visiting the school, I found to my dismay, that much of the curriculum and effort was teaching to standardized tests that must be passed in order to be placed on the "University" track. I found no excitement, no creativity, and the teaching staff rather dull and boring. I keep asking myself, how is it possible to have two schools, literally next to each other, governed by the same Ministry, and yet have this wide gulf in an approach to education.
  • May 12 2013: Australian secondary (age 11-18) educator
    We have a very diverse education system, as diverse as our cultural make up. As elsewhere the two main sectors are public and private, the catholic system dominates the private sector with other religious schools as well as the lesser known Montessori and Steiner schools. Personally I have worked in an independent non denominational school, public schools and catholic, even a Baptist run Christian private school on the Gold Coast (Australia's Bible Belt). While all had their faults and strengths, they all offered a good range of subjects. The new National Curriculum is yet to be tested but it seems enquiry based learning is well adopted. On the downside we have national testing "Naplan" National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy which clearly benchmarks these subject as the be all and end all. Of course they are the tools of learning but why these words why not NAPFFL Foundations for Learning. Naplan is not doing so well...tests inspire cheats & there are schools doing just that to gain funding. The workload / bureaucracy a teacher faces is seemingly exponential and in fact after being on maternity leave I'm considering not going back, I'm not sure id have time to do what i love - make connections with my students and share the wonders of design with them. On a good note, our profession is trying to raise it's status and in general is well esteemed and the Govt and opposition both seem to recognise the importance of education.
    • May 14 2013: interesting to learn how the system has changed since i was at school, 15 years ago now. it wasn't until becoming a teacher here in japan that i realised how good it was. in south australia we had just had the system updated when i came in, focusing on trying a bit of everything and slowly working towards a preferred field while maintaining some balance between science and arts. it's disappointing to hear how the bureaucrats (who aren't teachers and mostly never have been) have gotten in and only made it worse with their misguided 'brilliant' ideas.
  • May 12 2013: I am from Italy.
    I believe current school. from east to west, is the school of the word which makes passive men because it is incapable of conveyng the consciousness. That is to develop a quick and sharp mind that knows what it makes and, above all, HOW it makes.. I am sorry if I speak one's mind in plain words. Thank you.
  • May 12 2013: Wow, I'm surprised no one from Australia has commented yet... anyway! I attended schools in two different countries, here's a snippet of how I experienced both of their education systems..

    - Unfortunately, the govt isn't very good here, thus the public schools are pretty much run-down. If you live in the Philippines, you're a little bit better off sending off your children to private schools.
    - Both govt and private schools start their classes very early and finish pretty late. Since schools in the Philippines tend to be overcrowded with not enough teachers, each grade splits classes into "morning" and "afternoon" sessions
    - I get the feeling the reason why schools in the Philippines don't have many teachers is because teachers are ridiculously underpaid here :/
    - A little bit too much rote learning in every school subjects
    - As with many Asian countries, the Philippines tends to focus more on the "academic" subjects and less on arts, PE etc in schools
    - Ranking and exams really important in the schooling system
    - Uni/college entrance is, as with many countries, exam-dependent. I've heard that if you didn't get the right marks, just have the $$$ and the right connections and you can get into the course you want...

    - Definitely less rote learning. In the Philippines, the teachers play more a transmitter role, whereas in Australia they have a more interactive relationship with their students
    - However, I've found that many teachers here seem to be less knowledgeable with content knowledge on the subjects they teach. Especially in primary school, I felt that my maths and science education in particular weren't very high quality at all
    - Content-wise, classes are heaps behind compared to the Philippines. I learned long division n Year 2-3 there, in Australia, Year 6
    - Teachers are heaps more highly-regarded and more fairly-paid than teachers in the Philippines
    - Again, uni/college entrance is exam-based. But fairer than the Philippines imo
    • May 14 2013: 'heaps' eh? do i detect a fellow south aussie? i hope you won't my asking what year range your comments about the australian system are for? i have my own experiences until the late 90s, and i've heard from a few current students, but there's the gap in between and i haven't heard from many current teachers.
  • May 11 2013: It's really good reading all these comments from the world over. Education is controlled by politics and money. A close friend has a school in Kinshasa, Congo. I saw pictures of the classroom. Literally two classes sit back to back in a room; yet parents are clamoring to get their kids there. I has a high standard. In contrast I was at my son's open door for parents day yesterday. There was a large digital TV, a computer, overhead projector connected to the TV, etc. money is also a big factor. They had a science lab hour with a Bunsen burner, deep sink and space for each group of four students. Many thoughts went through my mind. Question: what's the ideal education philosophy balancing both the student and teacher's role?
  • May 11 2013: Hi, everybody! I am from Argentina. The issue here is public vs private education. Privates schools range from the subsidized church or local school to high end elite schools that teach immersion programmes in English (mainly), French, German or Italian. They are all going through endless battles between innovating and following the National Curriculum (it has basic units that have to be covered by every school in the country) and thethere's the piblic schools who are now sort of being politicized by the government and thecjoice of schools texts has historical bias and propaganda.
    It's easy to tell that public education has declined steeply in the past twenty years and the result is a whole generation of dropouts who have been cast out of the system further. They come from poor backgrounds, they struggled through their teen years to stay in school and they found out that ir wasn't enough to get them through college or university (state university here is very good and is free). That fact is only adding numbers to the hosts of poor uneducated people we already have in the country.
    I am a teacher and I work with high school students in a private school. I teach community service, and arts. My students are great people but the same cannot be said about students all across the country. Salaries are better but high inflation rates and a lot of sindicates working in many different directions, all present a ver tough scenario if you come to re-think education. We are part of the one laptop per child programme.... Only to hear that corruption has taken half of the netbooks and half of the ones that have been actually given out, were sold or misused and are gone from the intended recipients. (Just an anecdote: some schools received the netbooks and they had no plugs where to plug them or internet to access or teachers that COULD use the computer). But as always, educators look on the bright side and keep going on! That's what we do!!
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    May 11 2013: United Kingdom! :D
    I say this all as a student in the process of doing my GCSE's! (Wish me luck! :P)
    My seven criticisms (suppose I could call them the "seven deadly sins" of education) are :
    1. It encourages a culture of extroversion, while the benefits of introversion are ignored.
    As Susan Cain said : “There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”
    2. It doesn't encourage a good work ethic of admitting mistakes, and puts merits of the individuals "natural" ability; rather than putting the merits on the individuals hard-work.
    3. There is no "moral guidance", people are expected to find their own moral code. To paraphrase Alain De Botton : "If you went to a university seeking guidance, you would be rejected very quickly"
    4. There is a "stereotype threat" (of categorizing in "sets") which reduce performance, and motivation. Along with this there is a set view of "intelligence", which in my opinion is slight out-dated, and doesn't take into account the concept of "late bloomers".
    5. It is built upon a false view of happiness, which views that once you get a job and get lots of money, only then will you be "happy". And to quote Sir Ken Robinson : "It trains you to be a university lecturer". Considering this point, having a degree isn't (i'v heard) as highly rated as it once was!
    6. It doesn't take into account the fact of "intrinsic motivation" and makes it very hard for people to go into a sense of "flow". So that many don't study, for the sake of knowledge.
    7. Finally, our current education system doesn't encourage original thought (lateral thinking), or creativity. It encourages "road-block" learning, and relies quite a lot on the basis of "memory".
    Hopefully if people take all these points into consideration we can form a better education system!
    However I suppose it is worth mentioning, that if you could teach people how to train their "willpower" muscle and not procrastinate, then it would be good!
    Kind regards,
  • May 11 2013: I have been a professor at a University for Adult Education for over 20 years. I have seen, during that period, how education changed in The Netherlands. First, when I started professors where respected, well educated and got a lot of freedom on how they wanted to teach their students. We worked as colleagues, we had talks about our work during lunchtime, we helped and supported each other. Our students evaluated us; they were allowed to fill in the forms anonymously. Also the students were asked to give personal feedback. This worked very well.
    About 12 years ago the system started to change: fusions, classes increased from 16 to 33 students, but most important: bureaucracy. Management started to rule and still does. This killed most of the creativity, input, curiosity and passion in learning for students as well as professors.
    Nowadays teaching and learning is less interesting, satisfying and stimulating. And although the newspapers are writing very critical about the system for several years, the critic has been ignored by the management. Nowadays managers make the decisions about education and at the same time they don't know anything about how the job needs to be done.
    Finally, at the University for Adult Education where I worked, almost all creative classes are gone.
    And last but not least, I'm sad to say, personal contact between student and professor has been minimized. Students told me "here at school I am a number, not a human being".
    Therefore I'm so happy with the TEDtalks on education. Today I have send the latest talk by Sir Ken Robinson to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, because he has a Facebook page.
    Let's hope we can make Sam Cooks song "A change is gonna come" come true.
  • May 11 2013: I have had the pleasure of studying in India and the United States. India offers a rigrous curriculum of courses that test you to your limit. However, it lacks creativity. It does not let students apply what they have learn. Instead, your talent is judged on how many pages you can fill. Teachers lack motivation too. There is hardly 10% of teachers who can teach the way it is supposed to be. If one country that kills creativity at school level, its India. On the contrary, the US is pretty different. During my study there, I was not only subjected to a different type of environment, but I also learnt how to apply my mind. Exams were not based on how many pages you can fill, rather it was based on how much of your mind you can apply. I would not entirely condemn the Indian system of education, but I do say that it is not the ideal one. They need a major reformation.
  • May 11 2013: I educated in macau, which is a southen city of China. I think the education system in here is totally nonsense. No matter in elementary school or high school, we are doing the same thing that is testing. We have to do endless tests and exams in school. However, the most important thing is we did not learn anything from our tests. Because when we finish our tests ,we forget evergthing we have studied.What we have learned is to solve the equation(Math),recite some poems(Chinese) likewise. It does nothing help with our real life.In terms of our teachers, they only do two things that are to teach and leave the classrom. They did not care about us. What they are worried about is to follow the rules given by our principal and not to be scolded by our principal. That is our students' life. It is a waste of time.
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    May 10 2013: Here in Ireland we have a few issues the focus is entirely on memorisation and rote learning. There is no continual assessment. Your university and college application come down to 1 final exam over 6 subjects given to you at the end of 12 years of school. No abstract views or practical experience, just 6 exams and an cumulative score across all subjects. This means is you are not good at language you may not get enough points to go learn engineering or art for example.

    This trend is continued to university level. Even a Bachelors Degree focus on the regurgitation of answers memorised for a final year exam, negating any growth or skill developed over the first 3 years. Its only at a Masters level (http://www.iihcs.com/graphics/FanDec2006.jpg), Level 9 here, where you would be on average about 22 years old that you would be actively taught and encouraged to ask why. This means we have people trying to enter the workplace on skills that they only know off by heart with out necessarily understanding them .

    Also education here is free, even college and what a gift that is, but a major issue is that due to this people do not respect their learning. People will go to college only because parents want them to and jump between courses to find whats right. This leads to massive unnecessary competition for college courses, people getting refused places and lots of 1st year drop outs. Currently its believed to be about 1 in 4 (http://www.thejournal.ie/college-drop-out-rates-revealed-40207-Oct2010/)
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    May 10 2013: it is really general...but..lets say there are some sore spots...first, we test people base on what we know...and we lead them to a death-life situation...second, we need to network with qualify networks, third, there are not enough vacant chair for sudents in qualify universities..but, I think by the help of technology nowadays...we are doing good...knock wood..cheers
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    May 10 2013: The environment around the students in Japan is very similar to other Asian countries, like China or South Korea in that they have to win over a fierce competition of exams to get a better opportunity.
    I believe the elementary and secondary education in Japan is one of the best one around the world because the curriculum is standardized on a national scale. It is a virtue I’m proud of that we can receive a qualified education wherever we go.
    However, I have to admit that the standardization disregards the uniqueness of children and force them to be uniform individual (Note: I’m talking about the case in public school, not private school).
    Besides that, the tertiary education in Japan is on the verge of devastation, I think. There is no worry for some of top universities, but most of other universities are no longer “university”. The students there relinquish the obligation to study and the universities don’t feel any shame to give a diploma to such students. I feel really embarrassed to hear that Japanese university students study the least around the world.
    • May 11 2013: Masatake, I would agree with you is the strength of the standardized national curriculum. In speaking with teachers who are in the Japanese system, their greatest frustration though is the rigidness of the standardized curriculum. There is very little room for variation in the curriculum. They have little opportunity to explore education beyond what they are required to teach. I wonder the long-term effects of this on the students.
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        May 11 2013: >>Everett
        Thanks for your comment. What your friends in Japan told you describes the picture of the contemporary situation in Japanese public school. Strong standardization sometimes kills not only uniqueness of children but also that of capable teachers. I guess your friends seem to be competent, and to complain that they haven’t made full use of their knowledge or creativity to foster their children. In the past, this solid education system used to work properly to boost the level of civilization by having all the citizens cram a vast amount of knowledge through the uniform curriculum.
        In my opinion, what we are required in society will change as time goes by. What we are required now is work out a solution for seemingly non-proper-answer questions, not look for the given answer by authority. I know the premise is that we need enough knowledge to think by myself, but I’m just worried that the current educational system make light of the importance of “experience”.
        To study does not mean just sitting on the chair and taking notes. It is also essential that students have an opportunity to realize a connection between what they learned in school and what they can do in society.
        If you’d like to know more about “experience”, the article of David. A. Kolb might help you understand it.


        p.s. The above viewpoint is just my personal one, so you should refer to other Japanese ones if possible. They might have completely different opinions, and those should be helpful to get a well-balanced perspective (of course, I guess you must know..but)!
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          May 13 2013: I'm a Japanese too, and I agree Japan's education is too focused on winning the university enrollment race and is missing the essence of making students truly educated, underestimating what standardized exams cannot measure. Education should be something that cultivates thinking skills, not just teaches how to memorize what textbooks say.
  • May 10 2013: Post 2/3:
    My experience with Montessori was only positive. Note that this is the *real* Montessori, the AMI - the organisation that Maria Montessori herself set up - not one of the thousands of schools that pick and choose a few materials from Montessori's collection and slap on the Montessori name for good measure. The teachers were inspired and motivated - without doubt the best teachers I've met. The attention given to each student is amazing, and the children learn both individually and from each other. The children learned lots of important and challenging concepts, but without really realising that they were there to learn - they thought they were playing and having fun. They loved going to school every morning, and when my oldest was asked by an adult during a vacation if she was enjoying the time off from school (as if school is supposed to be boring) she replied, no, I want to go back to school.
    That said, this is not the case for ordinary public education in the UK, nor private, regardless of how expensive. The reason AMI Montessori is so exceptional is that they do not teach on blackboards and text books, but by experience. They learn by doing, not parroting.

    (I'll continue with the Philippines in the next post)
  • May 9 2013: I am a 14 year old college student from India. There is a lot of good and bad things about the education system in the India. Well, it is a very, very well developed one. There are many syllabuses including the O-level, Cambridge and also Indian ones (CBSE, ICSE, State). But it is not that open like other ones. You can't even use a calculator.
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    May 9 2013: In our country's education system,you will learn a lot,but what you can do is very limited.You can beat any one in the examination,but generally you will lose in solving practical problems,which makes me very upset.
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      May 9 2013: I know in elite math problem-solving, China is typically strongest in the world.
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        May 10 2013: But the truth is,for most chinese students,that their creativities are being killed.
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    May 9 2013: Our countries education system is really terrible! i feel that its not cos of whats being taught in schools, but rather how its being taught and the inexperience /qualification of the teachers teaching it!

    a general culture of non-effort in school from both children and parents lead to the downfall in education from where i am. (South Africa)
  • May 9 2013: Hii .. I am tarun from India.
    The education system here is such that, a kid when he is 2.5 years old, is admitted in Kindergarten,It is of two yearse (Lower kindergarten LKG, Upper kindergarten).
    Post which there is class 1-10 in the primary school.
    Almost 95-98 % teaching happens on black board, where in a teacher teaches a class anywhere between 35-50 odd students..
    Teaching is done primarily keeping in view the syllabus to be completed for the exams.and that too well before the exams.
    By any means, syllabus is completed regardless of the % of students understanding the course.
    In most of the schools in Towns/Rural places, students are not allowed to ask questions. Remember what the teacher teaches, and re-produce the same in exam.
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      May 9 2013: This is exactly what I have learned about education in India- this matter of getting through the syllabus without attention to whether students actually understand one idea before moving to the next.
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    May 9 2013: I may tell you sth about China. There:one-year preschool course ,six-year primary school, three-year junior school ,three-year senior school, four-year colleage ,three or two years graduate school and two-year PHD.
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    May 9 2013: Hi ZX Style. Yes I tend to take a pragmatic approach to things, and I feel that to break those addictions would be a very difficult task. (Do you have any idea how much money is being spent by Big Business cultivating the FB addiction?)
    All I am saying is there is a large and veritably captive audience in the FB arena. - Surely there is some way that can be turned into an advantage.
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    May 9 2013: standardised assessment (convenience instead of quality) vs curriculum.

    it seems to me that a poor approach to assessment can force everything else down to its substandard level.

    some ideas on alternatives to data-gathering, 20th c style methods of assessment and evaluation.
  • May 9 2013: Here in Mexico there are not enough qualified teachers, there are some of the very best teachers available but also some of the worst. Almost anyone can "teach" regardless of the real experience they have had. Another thing i have noticed is that the students are less interested in auto didactic experiences, they just wait for the semi digested information to get to them. A better system should include a part where you can share the knowledge you have obtained from reading scientific sources on your own. Please let me know what you think of this. Sorry if i made some mistakes in my redaction.
  • May 8 2013: Here in Alberta, Canada, we have strong support for learning from home. It is mandated in law and all public school boards are required to create this opportunity for students. With home education, our students are able to learn from their interests and to work alongside all ages in their communities. We find that the level of maturity and awareness is above average and that over time, our students take responsibility for their learning. By high school, the conversation is conducted mostly with the students and there seems to be a growing understanding that this opportunity is creating more accountability and choice among our youth.
    Families appreciate the freedom to pace the studies according the students' needs and preferences, from best learning in mornings to middle of the night. Our families often travel and provide worldly experiences that go beyond anything available in a book. Even without travel, students have access to their communities in ways that offer them a wide variety of experiences: paid work, volunteering, apprenticeships and formal courses. All of these experiences are included in their learning plans and can be considered for high school credit.
    The delight and enthusiasm for this approach is translated into the growing numbers of students choosing to learn from home. With the freedom to relax the pace, take stock of what works and to spend more time with family and friends, students who experience home education benefit for the long term. We see the relief and encourage our students and families to honour their own wisdom and to believe in themselves. It's a gift in education and we wish that it could be made available to all people.
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      May 8 2013: Online it says only 1% of Canadian children are home-schooled. In the US in 2007 or 2008, it was 2.9%. (I mention this mainly because Canada does better on standardized tests while having a much LOWER proportion of home schoolers than the US, so the explanation for better performance must lie in what the schools are doing or in the students' readiness to learn when they arrive at school).
      • May 9 2013: Please clarify the relevance of the standardized test to learning abilities. In home education, it's possible to measure learning and define success very differently. It is our interest to remain aware of how young people learn.
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          May 9 2013: My reference was to the international comparisons that Bill Gates referred to in his talk during the PBS special and that policymakers use for comparing countries. The instruments that they use for making those comparisons are not intended as a measure of learning abilities and no one, as far as I know, makes any claim that they are trying to measure learning abilities. As far as I know, there are no international comparisons of learning abilities.

          When people notice that Finland or Japan are near the top in international comparisons, they are measuring performance by having students in the various countries take the same tests translated into the languages of the country.

          If they did not use the same instrument in the different countries, they would not be able to make the comparative claims that they do. Using the same questions in different places is what it means for an assessment to be standardized.

          In terms of assessing learning, whether the child learns at home, in school, or elsewhere, there are myriad ways of measuring learning that are in use every day! Typically standardized tests come once a year and are used for those broad comparisons because one can do broad comparisons only with instruments that are the same across groups. Dr. Canada in his PBS TED talk also talked about how he uses these at an administrative level to get a big picture of change over time. These should not be confused with ways of assessing learning in the classroom.
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    May 8 2013: An issue in Malaysia is the presence of vernacular schools. In Malaysia, there are private schools, national schools, religious schools, and then there're the Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools. They're a source of discontentment for the majority Malay population, who think they promote racial segregation and disunity. But the Chinese argue that the quality of education and teachers in government schools are sub-par, which I think is also somewhat true. If you probe deeper, the issue is actually intertwined with politics (The Chinese are mostly pro-Opposition now). Anyway, I'm just scratching the surface... I don't really know the details...
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      May 9 2013: Thank you for sharing that. It's such an interesting issue that's cropped up so many times around the world throughout history. I'm curious to know in the case of Malaysia -- are the same government institutions responsible for regulating the curriculum of the vernacular schools and the other public schools? Is the curriculum regulated at all? I feel like that's one of the biggest questions: Are the kids not only learning in different languages, but also learning different material?
      • May 10 2013: I went to a private religious primary school and state-funded religious secondary school (as opposed to national school) (1997-2005). We followed the same curriculum but not for religious subjects- the religious curriculum is designed by the state or by the private institution. It is sginificantly different (more in-depth knowledge) as compared to standard religious syllabus by the central govt.
        I'm not sure about vernacular schools curriculum but I think they also follow the same curriculum.

        The edu. system is fraught with issues at the moment (but since when it wasn't?) I mean after the govt. revoked the decision of teaching Science and Match in English (back to Malay the national laguage), some vernacular schools go on to teach in English. Some boarding schools (considered as prestigious schools) also choose to teach in English. The freedom they enjoyed is envied by certain parents who send their children to national schools but prefer their chidlren to be taught in English.

        And regarding the issue of vernacular schools caused racial segregation etc.,I don't think you can blame vernacular schools entirely for that- because the Malays who majority are Muslims also have religious schools and what not. So not allowing vernacular schools also mean not allowing religious schools- so BOTH Malay and non-Malay won't be happy with that.

        One of the initiaves to mitigate racial segregation without eliminating vernacular school is "Vision School"- where 3 (Chinese, Indian, National schools) are built closed together and the schools share sides like field and school canteen. I think it's agood idea, but it wasn't implemented well.

        There is also govt. effort to teach vernacular language in national schools as to encourage non-Malay sending their chidlren to national schools, but vernacular schools do not agree with that idea because they themselves are suffering from the lack of vernacular language teachers (so how can they supply teachers to national school?)
  • May 19 2013: LOl,Yes,those one just like you mentioned:blahblahblah...Lol,oh my god,all students learning just focus on these tests:blablabla from grade one to grade twelve,then keep on blabla in university...and then keep blabla seeking a job:most of exams just focus on rote...Obviously we know it isn't good for students learning to motivate them...But from our current society we can't find a better way to have a balance in educaton system.Because in china,it concerns a lot....OOO I feel limited to express more in detail now,it means I need to keep on thinking,seeking...
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    May 15 2013: I hope my fellow TED community members would be quite aware of the history and how India's education system has contributed to the world since ancient times.
    Well, since time immemorial lessons were imparted from generation to generation by word of mouth and learning happened by practice. Teachers were not greedy for earning as their livelihood was taken care of by the kings/rulers/rich sections of the society. Students were free of stress as they did not have to clear any competitive exams.... their occupations were pre-defined as per their family's occupation and thus we moved on for thousands of years!!!! without any hickups!!!!

    Suddenly with the west becoming stronger, a new wave of new-found learning came into and shattered the basic fabric of the society, the systems - the inherent benefits were thrown in the turbulent winds of change...

    And today we stand in the midst of nowhere... just confused about who we are, what we are doing... and what we want to achieve..

    I don't know how bad the situation is in the rest of the world but here in India:
    1. Governments policy on appointment of teachers is more politically motivated than the purpose of hiring good teachers.
    2. People joining the field of teaching in government schools are doing so for the sake of lifelong security.
    3. People joining in private schools for teaching are doing so because a half day's work gives them good salaries.
    4. The education system has been twisted to make it easier for the students to get good grades so that number of suicides may be brought down or so that the student do not feel the pressure of going to school.
    5. What we used to call as "Moral studies" has just vanished from the education system .... earlier being joint families grandparents used to transfer ancient wisdom to kids as short stories.... and in school too!!!
    6. Parents are rearing BRATS spoilt for choice..just for the sake of showing status & money!!!

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      May 14 2013: There is a very large amount of discussion here on TED of schools in the US. The focus of this thread is very much other countries. Aja asked specifically for people to share key issues and success stories. I think the responses in this thread from people all over the world are effectively targeted at the key issues respondents perceive in schools in their countries.

      What I find so valuable here is that people are sharing for their countries what we cannot find on Wikipedia!
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        May 15 2013: Yes Fritzie, it is an insider look at the education system from alot of students.
        I am completely amazed at all the different responses, and I am learning alot.

        I am also learning what makes a good teacher from the responses in my teacher appreciation conversation. Did you see the link a TEDster posted on the Ken Robinson talk where a young man is thrown out of a classroom by the teacher?

        Here is the link, tell me what you think Fritzie:

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          May 15 2013: I cannot judge from the short clip. Was it a sub?
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          May 16 2013: I think that this video has been made, it is not natural. As you can see right down there are more videos with that student with the same theme.
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        May 15 2013: You know, I don't know the answer to that question Fritzie.
        But judging from the reaction of the student, and the authority with which he spoke, I think it was his regular teacher?

        Did you watch the interview a newscaster conducted with him....it is also on youtube.

        That young man voiced what alot of adults have been voicing for a very loooooong time.

        Listening to him made me proud that there are young minds out there who realize that public education is failing our kids.......Maybe that young man will help do something about it?
        What do you think?
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          May 15 2013: I am hesitant to divert this thread from its intended purpose, which is to share issues in schooling outside the US. By way of segue then, any classroom that is simply having students do worksheets without engagement and interaction is losing a great opportunity.

          I don't know how common this is anywhere in the world.

          I have seen classrooms in which text materials in "packet" form are used as a device for allowing students who are in entirely different places in their learning to work at their own pace or at their own pace with other students while the teacher moves about and engages with individuals and groups. It actually becomes a way to differentiate instruction. I have seen it mostly in remedial settings.

          It seems from the video you linked that the teacher was not engaging with students about the work at hand, but perhaps more assuming the role of a baby-sitter.

          I think that students have for a very long time, and certainly since my childhood, been very aware that some teachers and classrooms work better for them than others. Students have long had ideas, both good and not so good, of what would serve them better. I remember maybe a dozen years ago when sixth graders at my daughter's school who were taught using a Constructivist curriculum circulated and submitted a petition to the principal demanding to be taught by direct instruction, which is to say lecture, in lieu of an inquiry-based model centered on solving authentic problems in groups. They wanted to be told rather than to discover.
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        May 16 2013: Well, this problem, mentioned in your last paragraph is not mutually exclusive to middle school.
        I have a college friend who became a university professor, and each semester she likes to switch up how she conducts her courses. She works for the Education department...whe teaches future teachers.

        She says that when she uses teacher directed instruction (lecturing), the students tell her in the evaluation that they would have preferred to be left alone to discuss and work independently----, And when she uses the inquiry based model, they complain on the evaluation that she did not lecture enough.

        She is at her wits end. I guess a little bit of both is the key? Who knows?
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          May 16 2013: A combination is key, I think, particuarly as different styles work best for different students.. Further, some teachers are solid lecturers and not adept at guiding inquiry, while others are good at guiding inquiry but dull and rambly or disorganized as lecturers.

          Mixing it up has lots of advantages!
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        May 16 2013: I do so agree. Especially at the university level, when you are a professor in the school of education. You want to set the best example ever for those future teachers.

        Thanks Fritzie, this conversation has taught me alot.
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    May 13 2013: NL - 3th year Student Physical Education Amsterdam
    During our course of the study we have to give lessons to other students in our class. When we do so in the end we always have to give feedback. The most important part of this, is that your will learn from each other. We always start with a positive feedback and after that you can keep on going what was negative about the lesson. This have learned me a lot. Not only for myself but also for my co-students. I was more pleased with having feedback then non.
    When I listend to the talk of Bill Gates i was really amazed that they wanna set-up a special website where you can post your own lessons. This is in my view of vision a great way to become a better teacher. But what I'm wandering is: is this feedback not implemented in the teachers education in their 4 years of becoming a teacher. For our school this feedback moments are implemented during all the 4 years of this education.
    This starts in the first year: your doing a internship of 20 weeks 1 day a week on a primary school and/or high school. During this internship, at the end of the day you have a feedback moment with your intership teacher. You also have feedback moments with your education teacher at your own college.
    The second year your doing a internship of 28 weeks 1 day a week on a primary school. Following the same feedback moments as in your first.
    The third year your also doing a internship of 28 week 1 day a week on a high school. Following the same feedback moments as in your first and second.
    In your 4th year your doing a internship of half a year 4 days a week on a primary/high school. For these past 4 years your only thing you can be certain off, is that you will always get feedback on what you do. By this your really well esteemed to go in to be a full job teacher.
    But its probably the same in most country's. After you have graduated, the feedback moments will stop. Then the feedback moments will be what your students will score on their tests.
  • May 13 2013: *this
  • May 12 2013: Like my collegaue, Paula Barberis, I'm from Argentina. I fully agree with ther description, so I'm not going to repeat any of it. I would like to add that I seldom see teachers in primay or secondary levels who facilitate learning. Teachers are so diminished, so underpaid and overwhelmed that they hardly have time to individualise learning. Many try to comply with the curriculum, test students and pray the majority will pass. And those who don't are generally blamed and labeled as "silly" or "lazy". Plus, I find that many educators don't teach learning strategies, but just transmit information, without helping children make it their own, aprehend it, digest it and make it new knowledge. Overall, I would say the education level in primary or secondary schools is not improving.
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    May 12 2013: South Africa
    I believe our schooling system has become rather dysfunctional and political. We are currently awaiting the outcome of a Constitutional Court ruling to decide whether what is termed a "Dysfunctional Provincial Education department" can interfere with the workings of a schools governing body, that is a school that is functioning properly. There is more interest in the annual political pass rate and massaging results to show an improvement, with some pass rates as low as 30%. Private schooling has become big business as parents try and give their children the competitive edge but slipping standards are also starting to impact tertiary education institutions. Other factors are the dismal maths literacy rate and the disappearance of male teachers. I am a big fan of George Orwell and he made a comment that he doubted that proper schooling/teaching could take place without corporal punishment. Also one needs to structure your education around the student force you have, not the one you wish you had. It should integrate with the country's longer term economic plans. You can't expect to run with other BRICS countries if you population struggles with basic arithmetics
  • May 11 2013: I am from Indonesia. There are actually many problems in my countries, including problems in our education system. Though there are still many children who don't have any chance to go school (lack of facilities and small number of teachers), the children who get a 'good' education still faces so many problems. We have national standardized exams (it is called 'UN' here) for every school level and unfortunately the 'UN' is the only determinant for graduation. Actually it varies for every year, because our government decided to change the curriculum for every 3-5 years.

    The real problems come when every school want to get their kid's graduation number to 100%, they are likely would do everything for that. It's a public secret here that almost every school (there are some schools that are exceptions) will help their students to cheat in the standardized exams 'UN'. I think this problems are not only the schools' mistake, some individuals from government (Ministry of Education) are also involved. Imagine, every night or morning before the exams, students can easily get the answer key from short message service (SMS). Worse, there are many parents that support those things as long as their kids can graduate with a good grades. From every problems we get in our education systems in Indonesia, I think this 'cheating' problems is the most irritating one.

    Well, I need to say that may be our problems are 'big'. But fortunately there are still hopes for this. As an international student from Indonesia in Japan, for some aspects, I think Indonesian Education System is better than US or Japan which I know well.
  • May 11 2013: I am from the US.
    I would appreciate reading anyone's conversation from a country
    who's government allows the sale of hard-drugs to their citizens..

    We have a problem in the US with hard-drug use. Illegal hard-drug use,
    to some extent, invades beginning grade-schools, and as student's
    grow, so does the illegal hard-drugs use.

    I live in an apartment complex, wherein resides a marijuana salesman.
    He sells from his apartment to a variety of people who visit him daily.
    His background is seedy indeed. 30 years ago he was placed upon
    Megan's list as a child molester. The local police know about him and
    unless he is blatant in his activities, there is little that can be done.
    A sad commentary.

    Our government has not been able to stop illegal drugs,
    and has recently capitulated in their war against drugs.

    I've watched my family be ravished by this plague.
    It is only getting worse.
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    May 11 2013: It is amazing that so many creative and talented Indians can be found in all spheres of human endeavor around the globe. It is amazing because the education system in India is completely broken. Rote learning, centralised syllabus, no authority to teachers, focus on exams, tests and grading, no outlet for creativity, punishments for creativity and non-conformance, no role models, no focus on learning by doing, no connection to real life, the list is endless. I have summarised the current state of undergraduate education in india in a long write up for those who want to learn the gory details. It is at http://www.scribd.com/doc/49628663/Undergraduate-Education-in-India-part-1
  • May 11 2013: The education system is a CARTEL like Banking system and it is controlled by ? From my point of view, why they try to make every one the same kind of education.
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    May 11 2013: I'm a US college student studying abroad in the UK right now who's interested in education, so I've had this conversation with a variety of friends. The biggest contrast between the UK and US that I've noticed is that in the UK, students start specializing in high school. This means students only study a couple subjects such as just math, chemistry and physics instead of taking English and history along with such a course load. As a professor of mine pointed out, the problem with this is that most students don't know what they want to do at this age and shouldn't be made to choose.

    Personally, I knew I wanted to be an engineer since age thirteen, but I loved history and English and never would have wanted to choose in high school. As a college student, I have seen a majority of my friends change majors at least once, something that is impossible in the UK because specialization starts at or before age sixteen. This carries on to college where there is almost no interdisciplinary work, even between different types of engineers. I think that in order to stimulate creativity and innovation UK education should not silo their education system, but rather allow for cross-discipline studies. For this reason, the University College London's civil engineering program no longer requires students to have math, physics and chemistry to be accepted. Students are encouraged to learn what they want to study and then pursue at UCL and I hope the rest of the UK will follow suit.
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    May 11 2013: Germany
    I have been lucky enough to be studying in the USA and Germany, there are parallels:
    The German school system is somewhat similar to the high school system in the USA. First there ist Kindergarten, then grade school (1-4) and then you can decide between 4 types of high school, depending on your grades and what kind of career you would like to choose.
    Although the Germans might be better off with their school system than a lot of other countries, I think we're lacking heavily in some areas. After fourth grade, as I said, you can choose to go on to a "Gymnasium" (after graduating there you can go on to College) or you can go to a "Realschule", where you graduate after 10th grade (then you're able to either go further to a "Gymnasium" graduate there and then go to College or you pick up a job). The other option would be a "Hauptschule" this is where the children go that do not have grades good enough to get them into a "Realschule" or a "Gymnasium". They often have the least chance of getting a proper job not speaking of going to College. I mean, is that right? To basically decide what career a child is going to have, based on grades they get when they are ten?
    I did not understand the importance of this decision.
    The fourth option would be a "Gesamtschule" a high school, that any child can attend. They are combining the subject thought in each of the other three "high school options" and wait to see how the child is developing and then see what kind of graduation might be best for them. Understandingly those schools are very popular with parents, so the classes a lot of times are very big.
    This is of course a summary of my impression. This school system is too complex to be explaining it in a comment, but feel free to ask, if there are any questions.
  • May 11 2013: I sucks to the bones. I'm from China by the way.
  • May 10 2013: It's been 40 years since I left England, so I imagine much has changed, but the diiferences that I see that would be worth review in the US system include:
    Separate boy/girl schools - makes high scholl about education, not socializing (OK Scrooge, I get it!)
    Separate classes based, yes, sometimes arbitrarily, on academic performance. The best moved on faster - no, I was not one of them - the slower got more attention. Teaching to the lowest common denominator in a classroom insults almost everyone.
    Schools graded in a similar way. I went to to an academic 'Grammar' school, my brother to what would look here like a trade school. When he retired he was the production engineer for a large manufacturer. There's a good living to be made in jobs and vocations that don't require a lot of academic training. We have put too much emphasis on K-12 (can we say No-Child-Left-Behind?) then college as the Golden Path.
    By the time I was 16 I specialized in languages. I took an hour a day for a couple of 'electives', but spent 80% of my time on French, German, English. So much for the liberal arts concept. I still think that we don't push the brightest of our kids forward fast enough. With the appropriate education and training the rest could have much more satisfying careers in well-paying jobs.
    • May 11 2013: Hi David!

      Although I understand the benefit of about separate boy/girl schools, I can't help but wonder if kids' social development would suffer? Yes, academics are important, but social skills are arguably as important, if not more so.

      Dividing classes based on academic level - I am all for it. As long as educators and parents are aware when kids take lower level classes in order to achieve 'an easy A'...

      I agree with you, that we need to encourage the brightest kids who grasp the material faster, but stimulating the slower ones in areas where they do excel is just as important (as a Mom of two kids who are slower in certain areas than their peers, this is of personal importance to me!)
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    May 10 2013: This index seems to parallel the comments

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    May 10 2013: India
    Our present education system is established by the British Rulers, we haven't changed it a bit. They might have changed it in Britain.
    You start in nursery, then Kinder garten, school for 12 years , graduation from a college...then seek employment.

    Ancient system was residential called Gurukul, where one mentor will teach his art to 4 or 5 five pupils. The pupil will do all the house hold work along side with learning the skills. But it was not available to all.
  • May 10 2013: In Nigeria? Hmm needs serious improvement. Really!
  • 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)
  • May 9 2013: Sorry, that is classified national socio-economic information. Just kidding! May it never come to that! I have found that people have been critical of education probably from long before the death of Socrates. Most of the quotes I have stumbled across over the years were from Americans such as Dr. Roger Schank quoting Petronius, Dean Everett Martin(1930s), Robert M. Hutchins in "The Great Conversation"(1950s), or in U.S. published books or magazines such as "Education Automation" by Buckminster Fuller (1960s) or "The Bee Eater" (2011) in Canadian public or University libraries inspired by Andrew Carnegie public libraries in the U..S. One exception is the chapter in "Salvaging Civilization"(1920s) by H.G. Wells entitled "Schooling the World".
    I ran into problems in Canada due to education being a provincial responsibility. As a result, I had to go over the same Canadian history material twice (grades 7 and 8 and 11 and 12) and could not continue courses in accounting and technical shops (electrical/electronics, automotive, welding, drafting, machining) that I had started in grade ten at my previous high school. I would like to see a Ted Talk on Canadian educational sovereignty and globalization. Can Canada be different? How much room is there for change and educational reform with respect to international standards and accreditation? How should one handle the cultural and publishing dominance of the U.S. ? What is the purpose of the Canadian educational system? I have no idea who in Canada to ask to speak about educational reform in Canada. They need to speak up! I would also like Dr. Roger Schank to give a Ted Talk to get his ideas about education reform into the great conversation on education. There have been changes in education over the centuries but they are rarely acknowledged.. I was lucky that Latin was dropped a few years before I attended high school but the school motto was in Latin and meant " Not for school but for life!"
  • May 9 2013: Well, but isn't that the rational way to find what works best and for who. Teachers vary and kids vary. Keirsey talks about this in
    You DOn't Understand Me.
    Richard Bandler does some interesting things in his books on NLP.
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    May 9 2013: In India, Education system still suffers from colonial mindset. There are at least three main syllabi, one state level, two national level. Government seems to be undecided about whether to make education a right or a service to be had on payment. There are fully funded govt. schools, partly funded non-govt. schools, completely private schools, missionary schools and madrasas.
    Senior school and college education is elitist. Part time and vocational education is looked down upon.
    Certain Indian educational institutes of exlellence like IITs are best in the world, though.
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      May 9 2013: I have heard and read also, as part of an MITx course (Banarjee and Duflo), that education in India is pitched to the highest students. Though a very large proportion even of the poorest children are enrolled in primary school in the early grades, many of these children are dramatically underserved because the teachers aim the class way over their heads. This situation may be part of the reason there is such poor attendance.

      Randomized Control Trials suggest that kids do much better with "tracking," so that groups are more homogeneous during instruction.
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        May 9 2013: Poverty is certainly a big hurdle in India. What many do not understand is that rural kids of very poor parents will not go to school not primarily because their parents cannot afford the education (Govt. is doing a lot to make it free to them) but because these kids are part of the economic sustenance of the family - sending them to school needs to be compensated by the money they fail to bring home being stuck at school.
        Next, until recently Indian academia and instruction had remained completely unimaginative. If a tribal boy of 10 is given a sum that starts 'a Cadbury chocolate costs rupees 20....' I shall find it as a cruel joke.
        Last, India fails to produce teachers. My Granpa, a teacher in a rural school, taught and saved money to make three schools in his lifetime without discarding his family. We simply do not have teachers anymore.
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          May 9 2013: Why do you think India fails to produce teachers? I ask this because in the United States, more people train to be teachers than schools can accomodate, given school budgets, though teaching is a very low prestige occupation here.

          In the United States there is typically an under-supply of teachers with math and science qualifications to teach those subjects, an under-supply of teachers of special education students (who are taught in very small classes), and excess supply of primary school, language and social studies, and arts teachers.
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        May 9 2013: In India, I think there are several reasons.
        First, teaching is a job that is as much in the classroom as out. Teachers in India, in most cases, do not know the kids beyond their names. It's a populous country, resource/infrastructure is limited and there is great pressure on the system in terms of sheer number. It will take great courage and sacrifice on the part of the teacher to dedicate time and energy beyond class hours for kids.
        Next, the teaching proficiency is inverted in India. Kids are handled by teachers with less qualification, experience and interpersonal skills and University students are handled by highly qualified teachers with lots of experience and interpersonal skills, when the last is not that much required.
        For some inexplicable reason Indian students are naturally mathematically endowed. I have no clue why. I know about under supply of math and science teachers in the US. I don't know if it is because these subjects need more rigor compared to arts and language?
        But then India and the US have different demographics.
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          May 9 2013: I think one reason there is a scarcity of math and science teachers here is that people with those degrees have other career options that they often find more compelling, not to mention better paid, whereas those who study humanities have fewer alternatives.

          The shortage of special ed teachers comes from the difficulty of the job. There is tremendous turnover.
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        May 10 2013: There is also the reason why India fails to produce quality teachers is that the best minds have much better and paying alternatives as professions. Another somewhat subtle reason is a contrieved image of an Indian teacher, that of a sage (an echo of Gurukul tradition) that limits a teacher socially from being open and outgoing.
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    • May 9 2013: However you should consider the potential that tablets or similar devices have. Dictionaries, ebooks and lots of new learning software. But let's face the reality, few students can manage efficiently such powerful learning devices. I see my whole classroom immersed in Facebook in-between classes. I weep for mankind.
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        May 9 2013: Hi Tulio

        I understand what you are saying about FB. It's everywhere. But maybe, somehow just this fact can be turned into a positive.
        If kids are hooked on it, how can we use that attribute to teach them stuff, or enable them to learn stuff, (which is more important)?
        Surely, if FB is such a big part of kid's lives, it can be turned into a force for good, as well as what we currently see as a negative influence.