Education Next – Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Brandon L. Wright
“In The Atlantic last month, Carly Berwick praised Germany for raising its nationwide test scores while simultaneously reducing educational inequality. That’s no small feat—and one well worthy of recognition and accolades. Indeed, in our recent book, Failing Our Brightest Kids: The Global Challenge of Education High-Ability Students, we reported the same dual accomplishment in the Federal Republic. But we also pointed to a few weeds among these roses—namely Germany’s bright students, who aren’t enjoying any of these gains. Much like the U.S., Germany has a decentralized education system—with sixteen Bundesländer that resemble American states in the ways they shape and pay for their school systems. This system was fairly static—and complacent—through the twentieth century. The economy was strong, east-west reunification was succeeding, employers and unions made decisions together, and the integration of vocational schooling with apprentice-style training produced a well-functioning workforce.”(more)
The Guardian – Alex Bellos
“Waldemar the Elf has a job to do: he must collect all the Christmas wish lists from children who live in the Sahara Desert. Starting in Timbuktu, he is able to complete the job and return to Timbuktu in 6 days. But he is an elf, which means he is very small. An elf can only carry a maximum of four days worth of elf-food. What is the minimum number of elves Waldemar needs to bring with him to complete the trip? Clarifications: Waldemar can only travel with other elves. Every elf on the trip must eat a day’s worth of elf food every day. Elf food is not available to buy during the trip, but elves can give each other food. No elf is allowed to leave Timbuktu twice, nor be left stranded in the desert with no food.”(more)
“Minnesota State Senator Terri Bonoff gets a lot of requests to attend ceremonial openings. But when Swiss-German manufacturing company Bühler asked her to cut the ribbon at its new apprenticeship program, it sparked her interest. Based on the German dual system, Bühler’s apprenticeship program brings in trainee-hires as full-time employees with benefits, and partners with a local college to provide it’s trainees with classroom instruction – alongside the experience they are gaining on the job. It was the first time she’d heard about the dual system – which seamlessly combines education and real world work – but on a subsequent trip to Germany, Senator Bonoff found out more. In the German dual system, students spend a significant amount of time in the workplace before they even graduate from high school. After high school, many students transition directly into jobs at companies where they’ve already apprenticed; the result being that they enter the job fully versed in the necessary technical skills, soft skills and familiarity with the workplace culture. .”(more)
Education Next – Paul E. Peterson
“Education analysts often compare U.S. schools to those in Finland, Korea, Poland, even Shanghai. Surprisingly, the nation of Germany rarely appears in this discourse, even though it has much in common with the United States. Each of the two nations is the largest democracy, with the biggest economy, on its continent. And each has a diverse population, strong unions, a federal system of government, demand for a skilled workforce, and a school system that in 2000 was badly in need of reform.”(more)
Education News – Kristin Decarr
“A new paper suggests that although the higher education sector within the UK is more international overall than the equivalent sector in Germany, Germany continues to move forward while the UK is regressing. The paper, “Keeping up with the Germans?: A comparison of student funding, internationalisation and research in UK and German universities,” looks into the differences between how the two countries handle these issues within the higher education sector…One of the largest differences between the two systems has to do with how international students pay tuition. Germany offers free tuition for all students who attend school in the country.”(more)
News Herald – Juliann Talkington
Even though there is a lot of discussion about diversity and open mindedness, the U.S. has become a very closed-minded place to raise children.
Government agencies decide how children should be educated, psychology “experts” provide guidelines on how parents should interact with their children, law enforcement agencies force parents to follow the advice of the “experts”, and lawyers sue when kids are kids. With all this regulation, advice, policing, and legal intervention, one would think U.S. kids would be well educated and socially adept.
Just the opposite is true. U.S. children rank poorly in international academic comparisons. More than 50% of the U.S. college graduates are out of work or are underemployed. In addition, the U.S. spends over $100 billion on mental health annually and has the third highest incarceration rate in the world.
International comparisons provide some perspective.
In Vietnam, most children are potty trained by the time they are nine months old, something many U.S. psychologists suggest causes long term issues for children. Interestingly, most Vietnamese children go on to become happy, well adjusted adults.
In Japan, it is not uncommon to see six and seven year old kids riding the subway alone. Not only is this unheard of in the U.S., but would likely lead to a visit from Child Protective Services.
In Germany, it is common to see 4 and 5 year old children working with knives and other sharp instruments. Yet, in the U.S. children are not allowed to pick up a stick at school for fear that they will injure someone. And parents demand suspensions and threaten lawsuits when a student pinches or pokes another student.
A review of child rearing in the U.S. in the middle of the 20th Century provides some insight into the problem.
At that time, there was less government intervention. Local school districts had more control over curriculum and discipline. Teachers had better subject area preparation and lawsuits against school districts were uncommon.
There were no government agencies overseeing child rearing and few psychologists second-guessing what might be best for a child. Also, kids had the freedom to be kids. There were fights in the parking lot, scraped knees on the playground, and tears about “mean” comments. Families figured out how to interact and solve problems. Most people were employed. Few people had mental health issues and stints in prison were uncommon.
It appears that we need less government intervention, less expert advice, less enforcement, and more common sense.