## American education vs. European Education

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• 33
I guess what I was wondering was not to what degree the differences are, if any, but is there something inherently different?
Is there a certain philosophy or approach to education that varies? I know the philosopher, John Dewey had a major influence on American schools. I know many people at the time were theological in nature, given the time period. And quite possibly, does American's public / socialized system breed normalcy? A sort of collectivism and is this the case in Europe?
• 33
Income has nothing to do with a child's success. I've known many Asians who lived in the same low-income neighborhood as a black child and had no problem getting A's. Because that Asian parent would beat the crap out of the kid if he got anything less. Of course I'm exaggerating a bit, but the point is clear.

Also, any conversation about black children's performance has to mention their roots here in America and their continuing and transforming Identity. In my opinion, for the benefit of blacks, having their own schools might be the best thing. I know some might try to spin this into some racial statement, but every community or social group needs to form their own identity first and be proud of that identity, not given to them by the same people who oppressed them.
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Income has nothing to do with a child's success. I've known many Asians who lived in the same low-income neighborhood as a black child and had no problem getting A's. Because that Asian parent would beat the crap out of the kid if he got anything less.halo

Ah yes, the time tested rule of using micro-level exceptions as the basis to infer macro-level trends.

And discussion that followed from it.

I guess what I was wondering was not to what degree the differences are, if any, but is there something inherently different?halo

As others have mentioned, there can be a lot of differences from country to country.

The Finnish system is usually what people have in mind in discussing Europe vs US education.

It is very different philosophy in Finland; the architects of the "Finnish way" changed their purpose from academic achievement, however you want to measure it, to mental health of students. Basically, they said "Finland has become fairly wealthy since WWII (when it was very poor), but what's the purpose in creating wealth and being economically competitive if kids aren't happy?".

So they went about at first largely focusing on mental health issues, which quickly reduces mostly to stress. So what's stressful? Turns out competitive-based-learning is extremely stressful, as well as other things like bullying, not enough time in nature, too long classes / school days, etc.

But in terms of pedagogical philosophy the one thing that created the most changes, is moving from competitive to collaborative based learning. What this means is that there are not "smart streams" and "dumb streams" and you need to compete to get into a smart stream, likewise there are very few tests especially at younger ages and viewing these as competitive "to see who's best" is de-emphasized as much as possible (tests are still needed to see how a student is doing, but they can be done in a way that avoids the perception of competition between students), for that matter "first grade" is at seven which is when structured learning involving classes and tests starts (because earlier is too stressful on small children, so they stay with parents and daycare), lot's of working together in a non-competitive way, and even at 7 it is half the day (the afternoon is with parents or at a "play club", which will usually have a theme like sports or dance, but will be mostly playing).

It turns out, to the surprise of the architects of this system, that reducing stress levels allows students to excel better, learn more, be more creative, and when international testing became a thing, Finland was on top. This wasn't expected, as bringing up the average isn't very visible, especially internally for people comparing to the internal average.

Also, a little note, students call teachers by their first name and are encouraged to question the teacher's authority in the sense of spotting a mistake or needing justification for what the teacher is saying. Is it really true? Is seen as an educational opportunity.
• 33
@boethius That's very interesting. I know there are conspiracy theories and books out there regarding 'the dumbing down' of America by way of stressing memorization vs. critical thinking.

Do you know if other systems incorporate more critical thinking? I can certainly remember having to memorize most of my school years. No pun intended.
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if the Nordic model was brought to these communities, the child income would start to decouple statistically from parent income.

We do, basically, share the same viewpoint. BUT, "IF the Nordic model was brought to these communities" is a very big IF, indeed. It's a big IF especially when the US seems to be disinvesting more than investing in education and quality-of-life programs.

There is a program in New York City called the Harlem Children Zone. One part of the program is to remediate one of the earliest appearing educational deficits that poor black children manifest--low verbal development. Poor black children (sorry, I don't have comparative stats for poor white children, say in Appalachia) hear about 20-30 million fewer words by the time they are 5 years old (I'm citing this from memory--it might be 4 years) than middle class white children. Further, they hear about twice as many command words (shut up, sit down, get out of the way) and about half as many positive phrases (good job, nice work, that's right!...) as middle class white children, same age.

If the deficit is not addressed early in life, it tends to result in life-long literacy deficits,

So the remediation program was directed to new mothers, or recent mothers in the project area. They were recruited on the street. The remediation consisted of coaching the mothers to talk to their children more, read to them, say more positive things, say fewer command words, and so on. Engage the child verbally, in other words. (TV has no effect here. It has to be caretaker to child.)

The results weren't magic, but they were very positive -- children in the program did better in school and for a longer period of time than children who were given remedial education once they got to first grade.

Naturally the program has not received generous support from the Dept. of Education (during several administrations). Surprisingly, the non-profit hasn't died of starvation, but I bet that it serves far fewer clients than it could with better funding.

That's just one small example. When you compare not-disadvantaged young children who are in excellent pre-school programs with ones that are at home, they tend to do better in social interaction, verbal skills, eye/hand coordination -- all that basic stuff. I don't have children, but I know parents who do have difficulty finding excellent, affordable day care and pre-school programs. I think France, for instance, does much better at this than we do.

Minnesota, where I live, is a lot like the Nordic countries in a number of ways. Our rate of gun deaths per 100,000 is about the same as Northwestern Europe. The state spends a lot on education and other pieces of public social infrastructure. At the same time that Minnesota schools rate close to the top, the gap between white students' and black (and other minority) students' performance is the largest in the country.
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The content of education matters, as well as its free availability. Free education is quite beneficial, but... At no time in secondary school did I ever hear anything about such a thing as "the working class", class conflict -- god forbid -- Karl Marx, the IWW, Trotsky, et al. I do remember a lesson discussing the merger of the AFL and CIO (for whatever that was worth). I had read several anti-communist pamphlets from the John Birch Society. The whole school was shown an anti-communist film one year. (I grew up in a small town)

In college (1964-1968) there was very little discussion about class (except in a couple of mid-level sociology courses). In an American history course, the prof suggested I write a paper on the 1919 "Red Scare". This was quite 'enlightening' as I hadn't heard anything about it before.

After college, I roomed for a year with a guy from the University of Illinois who had been involved in leftist politics on campus. We talked about Marx and Trotsky, and the like.

I grew up during the height of the Cold War, so enthusiastic talks on Marx would be pretty unlikely. But the Cold War is over, 30 years past. Still, I don't think much is being said in schools about Marx, class conflict, or anything along those lines. It obviously isn't in the interests of the ruling class to encourage the masses to think about over-throwing them.
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Having been through the Finnish system (to a Masters degree in the University) and having my own children in the system (my daughter starts next fall in the first grade, her older Brother is going to the sixth), I feel the urge to comment to the many referrals to Finnish (and Nordic) system:

The MAJOR difference between highly rated systems like say, Finland, and the USA, is consistency. Our best schools (at all levels of education) are just as good as any country's (often better). However, our worst schools seem to be from another planet, whereas Finland's worst schools are almost as good as their best.
I would agree to this. However, the sad truth, as you noted, is THAT THERE IS INDEED A DIFFERENCE EVEN IN FINLAND between the highest ranking schools and the lowest ranking schools (even if there actually is no official/semi-official ranking system). It's not huge as in the US, but it still is. What can one say it but: Meritocracy divides still people into classes. The fact is that highly educated parents with good salaries typically will emphasize more on the upbringing of their children and will tend to live in certain areas. The fact is that a poor community from where people move to bigger cities simply will have more broken families and more social problems, which do have an effect in school performance of the children. Even if it is extremely difficult to measure, there still are these mentalities towards education and school between classes of people. I'm not a racist, hence I don't think Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Korean) are genetically better to others, but I believe they simply regard school and education far important than others.

Yet the US school system is very segregated and indeed as you say, the difference between the lowest performing and the highest performing schools is great.

I presume that European countries like Finland have a better and less discriminatory funding system.Grre
Yep. And have to say that Finland is far less multicultural than the US state of Maine, and has less difference between the richest community and the poorest one. In fact if you don't have any idea how large Finland is, picture in your mind the state of Minnesota. They (Finland and Minnesota) have roughly the same number of people, roughly the same kind of environment and so on. And Minnesota isn't the poorest state in the US, just like Finland isn't the poorest country in Europe. With funding, this means a lot.

But the Nordic model demonstrates that parent's income need not be the main determining factor. Which is why I said "under other policy conditions" those poor communities could now be economically vibrant.

I.e. if the Nordic model was brought to these communities, the child income would start to decouple statistically from parent income.

I would argue education is the most important element of the Nordic model. And to repeat, education in Nordic countries is the same investment per child wherever they are in the country, and the investment is high
Never underestimate the importance of the economy. Just like Marx said, it is in the end the most important issue. Hence to have well educated teachers and a well funded education system is still extremely important. If communities can go bankrupt and they won't be helped, no matter what kind of educational policies you have, they won't matter as they cannot be implemented without funding.

The Finnish system is usually what people have in mind in discussing Europe vs US education.

It is very different philosophy in Finland; the architects of the "Finnish way" changed their purpose from academic achievement, however you want to measure it, to mental health of students.
I'm not so sure about that. First, the teachers and the educators responsible for the system were left alone without a politically motivated agenda and just tried to create "a very good educational system". Yes, the objective wasn't to achieve better results statistically in some test, but still academic achievement wasn't forgotten. To note that Finnish students don't have so many tests as Americans still gives a distorted view as still academic achievement matters. There's just one universal test in the end of the gymnasium.

And let's not forget that Finland has copied some things from the US too. I wouldn't say that there is a difference in "philosophy" in education between the US and Finland. Good teachers now what kind of school and teaching works. Yet as in everything else, things like bigger problems in the society do matter.

And btw Finnish system isn't so top of the notch anymore. I remember one education professional here saying that if you would just take the capital area (which has the best funding), the system would be still as good as in Singapore. With all of the country taken into account, not so. Hence funding is important.

Minnesota, where I live, is a lot like the Nordic countries in a number of ways. Our rate of gun deaths per 100,000 is about the same as Northwestern Europe. The state spends a lot on education and other pieces of public social infrastructure. At the same time that Minnesota schools rate close to the top, the gap between white students' and black (and other minority) students' performance is the largest in the country.
As I've said, Minnesota is the closest equivalent to Finland in the US. Minnesota in fact has a little town called Finland.

Hence the closest to "What the Nordic model would look like in the US?", look at Minnesota.
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"A post office called Finland has been in operation since 1915[4] and a cooperative general store was established in 1913, which is Minnesota's longest continuously operated store. A large share of the early settlers being natives of Finland caused the name to be selected.[5]

The Lutheran church was apparently struck by lightning on 6 July 2013 and burned down.[6]***

***According to the Minnesota State Theologian, the lightning strike was a sure sign of divine displeasure.

• 305
Meritocracy divides still people into classes.ssu

For sure. I want the system that can identify the geniuses in any "class". (even in a perfectly equal economic system {a fantasy for sure}, there will be "classes" - good looking, athletic, intelligent, doctors, trash men, etc).

And have to say that Finland is far less multicultural than the US state of Mainessu

yes, and this is a rather large advantage for the Fins and the Chinese. Unfortunately, there is no good solution for this problem (please correct me if I am wrong :smile:).

First, the teachers and the educators responsible for the system were left alone without a politically motivated agenda and just tried to create "a very good educational system".ssu

I do not doubt this, but I do question the feasibility of something like that happening in the USA. A few years back when I was researching this topic, most Finnish teachers came from the top 20% of their graduating classes in college, while most American teachers are from the bottom third of their graduating class. I thought this might be significant.

And btw Finnish system isn't so top of the notch anymore.ssu

This entity (http://ncee.org/what-we-do/center-on-international-education-benchmarking/top-performing-countries/) still has Finland at number 2, with Canada rising to number 1 (@Grre must be shocked and appalled - if that is the "best" we can imagine how awful the "worst" must be). A few years back, the NCEE and the PISA exams were well respected for international comparisons...perhaps things have changed. I guess the fact that they dropped to number 2 implies things are getting worse, and that may be your point.

You may find that Finland and Canada were closer to 10th in pure PISA scores, but the NCEE drops outliers based on certain factors (like if a school scores very high, but has zero low income or learning disabled students - like, singapore, who was still ranked 9th, but I think they are #1, or close to it, on reading, math, and science for the PISA exams).

if you would just take the capital area (which has the best funding), the system would be still as good as in Singapore. With all of the country taken into account, not so.ssu

Hmmmm, so even the "ideal" model still struggles with this issue. I guess the wealthy (or otherwise powerful) will find a way to get "theirs", and then wonder what is holding everyone else back.
• 305
At no time in secondary school did I ever hear anything about such a thing as "the working class", class conflict -- god forbid -- Karl Marx, the IWW, Trotsky, et al.

Well you will be happy to know that they now teach about as much Marx as Adam Smith (which is very little, but it is introduced). Also, many World History classes spend 1-3 weeks on the Russian Revolution (yes it mostly conveys "you see what happens when people try communism...stalin", but for the critical thinkers it is an introduction).

More reason for hope:

Those in favor of Laissez-Faire economics (or even your average American Republican) are not going to seek out a low paying career as a government lacky (teachers), so the vast majority of teachers in America are left-leaning (that doesn't mean they know the difference between communism and socialism or shit from shinola), but they are sympathetic (they particularly love the sound of "equity", and stuff like "from each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need" certainly strikes that chord).

Still, I don't think much is being said in schools about Marx, class conflict, or anything along those lines. It obviously isn't in the interests of the ruling class to encourage the masses to think about over-throwing them.

I can't disagree with any of that (in teaching the Russian Revolution I occasionally must mention that Lenin intended for the world to follow their lead, but there is certainly little emphasis on class warfare and zero direct comparison to the modern world, unless the students bring it up) . Teachers do have a decent amount of autonomy. I can't teach students that they should revolt, but I can certainly teach about every revolt in history and what caused them (including living conditions and political philosophies). Surely, the thinkers will see the parallels.

In the same way I can't preach religion (in a public school history class), but I can teach the history of every religion and their impact/role in their given societies.

I have seen some fairly new government and economics textbooks being used that were strongly biased against socialism (sometimes just plain ignorant like saying all socialism is a type of command economy), so I get what you are saying. But personally, nothing convinced me of Marxism more than my knowledge of capitalism (once I learned more about Marx, I realized I do not entirely agree with his solutions, but his critique of capitalism seemed dead on).

I guess I am arguing that a "bad" education beats no education…but I am sure I have limits on how bad.
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• 114
They each have their merits and drawbacks. It's not simple and black and white.
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It is normal to learn philosophy in Europe at lower grade levels.

That's good news! What countries do this? My country, the UK, doesn't.
• 305
That's good news! What countries do this? My country, the UK, doesn't.

Dammit, the one thing I say that was entirely based on anecdotal evidence, haha. Yes, I got this from someone who went through the school system in France. They said they did some introductory philosophy at the secondary level (high school level US).

I just tried to research it (a little), and it looks like they (France) have the option to do some philosophy at the upper secondary level (15-18 years old), but it does not look like there is any sort of required philosophy.

And I always forget that the UK standards have required religion (I get you can opt out, but if the default is you are in then most will do it)...Is the "required" material all about the Church of England or is it more of an exposure to all major religions? How much freedom do the teachers have when teaching religion classes? With a little freedom I think one could teach some philosophy in a religion course (Plato seems obvious)? I get that this belittles philosophy a little (or elevates it from the religious perspective I suppose), but it is an opening, and if "we" want philosophy to be more pervasive in society (do we?), maybe it is on "us"(those who want it to be more pervasive) to make it happen within the parameters laid out by our wealthy overlords (that last bit may not apply to you at all, but is just a leftover point from my discussion with BitterCrank).
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Dammit, the one thing I say that was entirely based on anecdotal evidence, haha.

And I meant one thing in this thread. I am sure I have offered plenty of barely justified opinions on this site (hell, probably more than once in this thread).
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And I always forget that the UK standards have required religion (I get you can opt out, but if the default is you are in then most will do it)...Is the "required" material all about the Church of England or is it more of an exposure to all major religions?

Can't help you, I'm afraid. I was educated in a religious cult (Roman Catholicism), and all other colours of religion - including atheism - were collected together and identified by the term "non-Catholic". I was offered no education at all on any other religion, including other flavours of Christianity. I stopped attending church as soon as I was old enough to shoulder the responsibility of damning my soul for all eternity (by denying Catholicism). Hmm. :meh:
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Can't help you, I'm afraid. I was educated in a religious cult (Roman Catholicism), and all other colours of religion - including atheism - were collected together and identified by the term "non-Catholic". I was offered no education at all on any other religion, including other flavours of Christianity.
Two of my three best teachers ever were teachers of Religion, as we do have state religion in our country. Both were Lutheran priests also (and men, since we didn't back then have yet female priests as we do now). The other one also taught philosophy in the gymnasium (and was totally at the level with the professors teaching Philosophy in the University, even if naturally didn't go so deep into the subject). Both had a great objective: to make us to think about the issues. So they teach religion the following way: 1) Here's a moral problem or a moral question. 2) Here's the answer that Christianity gives to this question. 3) But hey, it's up to you. Just think yourself about it. If you don't, your not an adult, but a child.

Hence we didn't actually ever open the study book of Religion in school. Both teachers weren't interested on making read texts, they knew you don't teach a person to have faith, but really made the best effort to make us open our mouths about the issues at class and discuss the issues. How else would you really teach Religion or Philosophy, actually?

Thanks to them, I'm not an atheist, but an agnostic. Nope, they didn't convert me to a true Christian believer, but they did show how shallow and empty atheism is.
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Can't help you, I'm afraid. I was educated in a religious cult (Roman Catholicism), and all other colours of religion - including atheism - were collected together and identified by the term "non-Catholic". I was offered no education at all on any other religion, including other flavours of Christianity. I stopped attending church as soon as I was old enough to shoulder the responsibility of damning my soul for all eternity (by denying Catholicism). Hmm. :meh:

Hahahaha. I will see you in super-hell. I was also raised Catholic. No purgatory for us who were exposed to the "Truth".

Thanks to them, I'm not an atheist, but an agnostic. Nope, they didn't convert me to a true Christian believer, but they did show how shallow and empty atheism is.ssu

And we will see you in hell also :smile: (or eternal death if your version of Christianity has no hell).
• 48
I had a theory concerning Philosophy a while ago that people should teach from particular philosophers rather than schools of thought. For instnace, rather than study Existentialism, you would take 3 classes 'from' Nietzsche, and, 3 classes 'from' Sartre, and, then, go from there where you would. You might take a class 'from' Ponty or one 'from' Arendt. You would still have electives, of course. I don't really know why I thought that this was such a good idea, but, do wonder if it has ever been tried. I had it in my head that it was some sort of European model. Is that how they teach you at the Sorbonne?

That aside, American Philosophy is mostly Analytic and European Philosophy tends to be more Continental. My independent studies have been mostly of Continental Philosophy, but, I will end up studying Analytic Philosophy at the university. We'll see how that goes, I guess. I think that it'll be sort of interesting. I've consumed too much 'Continental' Philosophy in my spare time. It kind of makes me feel like my rationale is a bit lacking. Analytic preconceptions of Reason do sort of bother me a bit, though. I don't really know how it will all pan out. I'm hopeful, though.
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I mean, you could always take six classes 'from' Martin Heidegger and one 'from' Sartre, but, why should you do that when there is another option?
• 82

I'm not sure if this thread was directly discussing philosophy structure in university, but I do feel like chiming in here and saying I agree! Grouping schools of thought can be confusing, because so many thinkers have so many different conceptions of the same (largely abstract) ideal/theory. It gets overwhelming. Then again, some philosophers are ~easier~ to read on your own than others, some philosophers you can read their primary texts, do some background research, and maybe read a secondary/biography, and you understand their position...others, you can try to read their works but you get nowhere. More questions than answers, which is where it is useful to have an instructor guide and encourage helpful discussion. Beyond that, philosophy lessons, for their own sake , are useless. You have to come prepared to learn in philosophy...unlike in other subjects from what I've found.

Maybe I'm being ungrateful. My university here in Canada is beautiful, landscape wise...set in acres of woods-state of the art environmental science stuff ect. It was terrible in the sense of resources, because it was rural it had a very small/non existent library-no real public library in the town it is set in ect. Also did not attract very high achieving/scholarly people, mostly just middle class rural kids who's parents made them go so they can get a degree, or underachieving middle class kids who did not have the grades to go to "better" Canadian universities. My friends warned me not to go there actually-but well, I did. Ended up wasting two years of my life not really being challenged...it was challenging balancing a lot of coursework + substance abusing SURE less challenging was the actual content. I was taking third and fourth year courses at second year, and shocked by the state of some of my third year courses especially one I took called "Philosophy of Animals" which was cross-referenced with enviro studies (small universities = lots of cross discipline courses which are just as disappointing as you can imagine). Painfully easy. It was hard for me to sit through the hour seminar every week.

Public school here, despite provincial funding, is awful. There is still some class stratification re: area, ie. schools in richer areas get more PTA activity, bake sales, donations, ect. which equals a nicer school and better extracurriculars. My school was one such school-in fact, it felt like a private school seeing as most of the students drove better cars than the teachers in high school (Jeeps, BMWs). I had to apply to go to it (because I was out of area)-another public high school in my area, was also richly desired because it was "advanced" and thus you had to write an entrance exam. Such stratification also means that you get more "resources" for things such as university applications-we had assembly after assembly, while at my friends high school (in a less wealthy, high immigrant area) did not receive any information on university/college applications-I guess because none of the parents demanded it? Or expected it? Most of the students in my school did a lot of extra courses at a private online school as well-meaning while they managed to graduate, they also paid for their grade 12 marks for university applications. The school building itself though, was a piece of shit, worse still, are the adult schools here, literally there are holes in the wall and boarded up windows. It's awful. What conditions are the schools in Finland/Europe? I assume at least clean, and not literally falling apart (some schools in my city you can't even read the name on because of fading/lost letters/over growth). All the schools in my city were built circa 1920-1950, that's probably why.
Now my middle school was an arts "speciality" school, meaning it was publicly funded, but I had to audition when I was about nine years old. I have no idea what criteria they selected applicants, but race had a lot to do with it. 90% of the grade was white, skinny (there were two-three token "chubby" girls), blonde (literally), beautiful little girls (a pedophiles dream)-all "artistic" while the other 10% consisted of eight boys (also all white, save one) one token Black girl, three asians, and (if I recall) one brown/Indian girl. There were 120 children in my year. I'm unsure if its different now-but make no mistake, these children were 'handpicked' out of hundreds auditioning, it was no accident. We also had more $$than one would think possible, I mean, every year we had a huge concert to put on, we had a full Mac lab (more than my university does haha!) equipped with another full Mac lab x2 of MacBooks + the latest in graphic design software, photo developing, and SMARTBOARDS-They also, for no reason whatsoever, decided to create an "outdoor classroom" in my last year there, 10k on about a dozen large rocks set in a circle out front of the school. Again, this is a public school, where right down the street, there was another public school so old that its basement had fallen in twice... I can't get anymore into the education system...it's eleven at night here and I don't need to get all frustrated aha. I have very strong critiques but for now, they are too strong, the memory is fresh seeing as I just graduated high school two years ago. If anyone cares though, I suggest starting with John Dewey-he writes a bit on Marxist critiques of the education system and actually championed anarchistic tenets with his Free Schools concept, same with Emma Goldman among others. • 249 My brother immigrated to Canada, with his wife and his 8 year old kid almost 40 years ago from Europe. Eastern Europe. My bro told me the following differences in school life and education: - kids here in North America are encouraged to keep their dignity and integrity. - in the old wrold the teachers are far more authoritarian, and berating the kids is not far from them. - kids here are accepted if they have low academic achievement. In the old country everyone is pushed to the limit academically. Socioeconomic status is immaterial in this aspect. - kids here are popular in class with their mates if they are good in athletics or can beat others up. At home, the kids are popular if they are smart, get good grades, and are funny. Good sense of humour carries you the farthest. - in both countries good-looking kids, both girls and boys, enjoy the farthest in social privileges. • 249 I went to high school in three countries on two continents. I noticed the North American continent was more lenient and good-willed among the teachers. In the old country continent, teachers were cruel and got away with favoriting one student or the other. In curriculum: in the old world, every student had to take every subject from grade 1 to grade 12, which meant 5 subjects in grade school and up to 13 subjects in high school. You could only get exempted in phys ed. In North America you need to take only approx. 6 or 8 subjects of the available 12 or 14 every high school year. In Europe math was easy; here it's hard. For the kids. There is something about math that does not agree with the heavy Christian influence in North America. I think it has to do with 3-1 = 0 being accepted as valid computation in Christianity. That throws every kid right off the bat here. It was easy for me on both continents, but then again, I'm weird. Plus I ain't Christian. • 305 Maybe I'm being ungrateful.Grre Your attitude seems fine to me. I think you are just analyzing education from what would be ideal, then wondering why everyone does not have the ideal (or even seem to be trying to work toward it) situation. As you went through your education system, you noticed many problems. Now, if I grab some analysis that says Canada is actually a highly rated education system, does that mean you were wrong about the problems? Of course not. It should just make us all disappointed that even the "best" systems are heavily flawed. But as long as everyone (I will be happy for a few more) thinks like you and acknowledges that no education system is perfect and we should all be making efforts to improve the systems that we are a part of (or at least whine about it on philosophy sites until there seems to be some level of consensus...my method of choice), maybe we will make some progress. Now my middle school was an arts "speciality" school, meaning it was publicly funded, but I had to audition when I was about nine years old. I have no idea what criteria they selected applicants, but race had a lot to do with it. 90% of the grade was white, skinny (there were two-three token "chubby" girls), blonde (literally), beautiful little girls (a pedophiles dream)-all "artistic" while the other 10% consisted of eight boys (also all white, save one) one token Black girl, three asians, and (if I recall) one brown/Indian girl. There were 120 children in my year. I'm unsure if its different now-but make no mistake, these children were 'handpicked' out of hundreds auditioning, it was no accident. We also had more$$\$ than one would think possible, I mean, every year we had a huge concert to put on, we had a full Mac lab (more than my university does haha!) equipped with another full Mac lab x2 of MacBooks + the latest in graphic design software, photo developing, and SMARTBOARDS-They also, for no reason whatsoever, decided to create an "outdoor classroom" in my last year there, 10k on about a dozen large rocks set in a circle out front of the school. Again, this is a public school, where right down the street, there was another public school so old that its basement had fallen in twice...Grre

I think this highlights one of the biggest problems with education systems. People can't help but want the best for "me and mine". If the school down the road can't afford smartboards, maybe they need to work a little harder :roll: You have noticed a significant problem, but unfortunately, places like the US, Singapore, and Hong Kong are even MORE unequal. So, yeah, the world seems screwed, but on a high note, overall, more people are receiving more education, than ever in history (just based on literacy rates).

I have very strong critiques but for now, they are too strong, the memory is fresh seeing as I just graduated high school two years ago. If anyone cares though, I suggest starting with John Dewey-he writes a bit on Marxist critiques of the education system and actually championed anarchistic tenets with his Free Schools concept, same with Emma Goldman among others.Grre

Well you are way ahead of me :smile: I didn't really pay attention to "the system" while I was in school. It wasn't until I started looking at things from the teaching/administrative side that all of the problems you are pointing out became more clear (I quickly gave up on the administrative side as things are too much of a mess at that level...within a single classroom I feel I can at least have a minimal impact with a few students). And while I have definitely read a little Dewey, I should probably take another look (I also find Marxist interpretations interesting so a good reason to check it out). I have heard of Goldman, but don't know why, so I will need to look at that one.

I have very strong critiques but for nowGrre
As someone who is far better at complaining about the world's problems than I am at solving them, I am happy to hear them. As this post shows though, it may take a few days to respond.
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- kids here are popular in class with their mates if they are good in athletics or can beat others up. At home, the kids are popular if they are smart, get good grades, and are funny.

This is a watershed issue in the United States: In a minority of school districts, high level academic success is expected/demanded and delivered by the students. (Not all, of course, but as many as can manage.) In another minority of schools, academic achievement is not respected--it's maligned by the students.

In most schools there is a distribution of performance from very good to very poor, and as you observed, being on the poor performance end of the distribution doesn't make one a diseased pariah. Status is enhanced, as you suggest, if you have something going for you--comic ability, sport ability, good looks, fighting ability, and the like.
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- kids here are popular in class with their mates if they are good in athletics or can beat others up. At home, the kids are popular if they are smart, get good grades, and are funny. Good sense of humour carries you the farthest.

Well you should have seen us 20 years ago :grimace: I am in US, not Canada, but my experience suggests the "popular jock" thing is somewhat changing. Intelligence is not suddenly being valued but being charming and good looking has certainly overtaken physical power. The new version of 21 Jump Street captures this change fairly well.
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