Education and Learning Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2706 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Teaching

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[. . .] Additionally they are forced to nod in a certain way to express the fact that they are paying attention to what is being said. Students have to immediately look at their peers when they are speaking. When this is viewed by an outsider it was mentioned that it seems like a rather odd phenomenon. Additionally, the students are made to chant motivational speeches and do other things of this regard such as songs and games.

Critics of the charter school movement cite the fact that they are generally selective in their recruitment efforts. This results in the fact that the charter schools may not actually have a fair sampling of those on the bottom of the barrel in terms of the achievement gap. Though their scores must fall within a certain range, there are other criteria that can predict a successful candidate such as motivation, health, and discipline. Furthermore the fact that the teachers are forced to work such long hours is something that was mentioned to be unsustainable for teachers to do a crossed the board. Most of the teachers at the charter schools were younger, single individuals who didn't have families yet. More seasoned teachers with significant others and children of their own would be put off by the demanding schedule, to say the least.

Other criticisms include the fact that the standardized scores are basically divided into two categories; educated and uneducated. Thus if the line for the cutoff between these categories is missed by a single point then they would still be divided into a category regardless. Other criticisms stem from the fact that in some school districts the poverty levels have implications for the health of the students as well as the available time that they have for studies. For example, if a student isn't paying attention in the classroom then this could stem from the fact that the student has untreated conditions such as ADHD or possibly even a hearing disorder. Furthermore if the parents are working, older siblings could be forced to care for their younger brother and sisters leaving little time for homework or studying.

World's Best Model

Since the United States clearly has a deficiency in its educational system, especially with some demographics, then it seemed worthwhile to examine some of the better performing systems around the world. In nearly every study that was identified Finland seemed to either the top performer or in the top three listed. In an interview when the Finish Minister of Education was asked why their schools were the top performing, it was surprising that he attributed most of the Finish system to innovations that were born in the United States (Snider, 2010). However, he also mentions that Finland has a superior method of implementing these ideas.

The Finish teachers do not have any standardized processes or metrics to measure teaching performance; in fact the Minister of Education stated that their teachers would most likely strike if this was ever spoke of (Snider, 2010). The teachers in Finland are approximately ninety eight percent unionized. The only mandatory test that students have to take is at the end of their final year of high school; while they are learning there is no rankings, no standardization, and no competition between students or schools (Hancock, 2011)

Finish teachers are dedicated to their profession however they do not work the demanding hours found in the charter school systems. One difference that was identified in their system is that all of the teachers are required to have at least a Master's degree. Furthermore there classes' sizes are much smaller than found in other countries. However, Finland actually spends less educating their students that the United States does (Hancock, 2011).

In Finland it is almost unheard of for children to show up hungry or homeless (Tough, 2006). Inequality in Finland is nearly on the exact opposite end of the spectrum as the United States. Mothers' are given an entire three years of maternity leave to care for children; while in the United States it maternity leave may only consist of a matter of weeks. Furthermore, in Finland there are subsidized services such as pre-school. Schools in Finland provide medical care, food, counseling, and even other items such as taxi services when needed.

Children in the Finish educational system are never put into any stressful situation when avoidable. There are few tests or pressure put on them to excel. They are coaxed into reading as opposed to being made to read. When a child begins to show interest in a subject then the teachers act more like partners in the learning experience as opposed to more of an authority figure as found in many classrooms in the United States.

Figure 1 - Finish School Rankings (McKinsey & Company, 2010)

Conclusion

Although the charter school system may show some amount of progress, the results are often heavily debated. However, even if this progress was correctly attributed to the charter school system, then these results would still pail to other systems around the world such as the Finish system. The Finish system has shown success over a lengthy duration and excels as probably the top school system in the world when the various rankings are compiled. However, this system, as well as many aspects of the country in general, operates in nearly the exact opposite as their counterparts in the United States.

There is always the aspect of culture to consider. Because the Finish has their own unique culture, the things that work in that country may not necessarily be successful in the United States. At the same time some of their approaches seem so logical that one might wonder how they could possibly fail. For example, if a child has their mother's presence in the early years because the mother is granted such a long maternity leave then it is completely reasonable to suspect that the child will have a better shot at development during this key developmental phase.

It seems that in countries such as Finland that the needs of the child come first and then the rest of the political, economic, and social structures are designed around the child. While in the United States, it seems that for many children that their needs aren't a social priority and they are only provided a level of substance that is afforded by the political, economic, and social structures. It is unlikely that the United States culture would ever evolve into a country like Finland, yet one should note that their successes are based off of ideas that originate here.

Works Cited

Hancock, L. (2011, September 9). Why Are Finland's Schools Successful. Retrieved from Smithsonian: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html?c=y&page=2

McKinsey & Company. (2010, November 11). How the world's most improved school systems keep getting better. Retrieved from McKinsey & Company: http://mckinseyonsociety.com/downloads/reports/Education/How-the-Worlds-Most-Improved-School-Systems-Keep-Getting-Better_Download-version_Final.pdf

Snider, J. (2010, December 13). Lessons From Finland's Education System. Retrieved from The Hechinger Report: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/justin-snider/finland-education-system_b_794644.html

Superintendent of Schools. (1948). The First Fifty Years: Fiftieth Annual Report. The City of New York: Board of Education.

Tough, P. (2006). What It Takes to Make a Student. The New York Times, 1-20. [END OF PREVIEW]

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