The number one reason countries like Finland have the most successful educational systems…they established a culture that values education.
A culture that values education, is a culture that understands the critical role education brings in Nation building and economic security. So who are the top ten countries with the best performing students? At the top is South Korea followed by Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Ireland, and Poland.
The top academic countries place a high emphasis on recruiting the best teachers, who are passionate and able to engage students with different styles of learning. The highest ranking countries believe in the professional development of the teachers throughout their career coupled with access and support from colleagues. Collaboration among the teachers to enrich the teaching and learning environment in the classroom is viewed as an essential part of teaching.
Unlike here in the US, these countries select from the top of the college cohorts. Although there are some schools in the US that understand the need for higher quality teachers, this is not a standard that is set at the local, state, or federal level. Why not demand the most qualified? Some attribute this to lack of funding for better salaries, but the US doesn’t just pay teachers less than some countries, they also require less training before entering the profession. We don’t value the profession, and if we did, we would pay teachers more, we would give them world class training and we would create an environmemt that supports their needs to better instruct our children.
Establishing a culture of blame is not going to solve our educational problem, neither is throwing out the entire system. Most countries establish a step by step process to resolve their educational issues. In some cases, it took up to an entire generation to accomplish the task of converting their schools into the most productive in the world. The US doesn’t need such drastic measures to accomplish what is required. One look at the formula used by other countries, and we can see that we just need some adjustments along the way.
What Steps Do We Need to Take?
Increase teacher autonomy in the classroom
Inform the public on the importance of education in economic growth and Nation building.
Create a culture of respect for teachers and education.
Properly fund every school throughout the US, and provide support for those families with limited resources. (e.g. in classroom assistance for children at risk.)
What is abundantly clear in all the reports, the top performing countries and top performing schools here in the US take the responsibility of educating their students very seriously, and they truly believe in leaving no child behind….no excuses, they just get it done.