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Forums - General Discussion - How does this school system compare to yours?

Teacher here and their system seems terrific. However, there's always push back when teachers here try to implement some of those ideas from Finland. Personally, I'm not a fan of standardized testing and I try not to give homework but parents and some other teachers always question it. Change is coming but it is slow. I feel we still have one of the better education systems here but we can do better. We need a more systematic approach here, and the funding that goes along with it to get there quicker.

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Hell no, my school put math and science above all other subject matter, tons of cut fine arts, music, civics programs and assloads of homework. The systems goal is to try and land you "a job" instead of finding what it is you actually are passionate about. I got up at 5AM to catch the city bus to school, didn't come back home until 6PM, to which I had hours of homework waiting. And it's not necessarily even teaching you anything, it's busy work.

I get it, repetition is the a key to learning, but it's not necessarily THE key. 3 and 4 hour days? Hell, we'd be ecstatic about an early leave day which was about 2 hours off of the 7-8 hours in school. Weekly tests and exams which 2 of my professors said your name and grade after each exam out loud...damn I hated that place. I swear if I have kids and I'm still living in the US they're being home schooled. Go go Finland. The US schooling system is trash, and needs a complete overhaul because obviously it isn't working as well as we thought.

US schools have made some improvements in line with some of these Finnish changes since I graduated in 2007. Back then, 2-3 hours of homework per night was common, but my sister, who is 15 years younger than me, is in middle school now, and I hear she only has about 20-30 minutes of homeworks tops, and some nights she has none. Standardized testing still exists in my State, Virginia, though there is a rapidly growing movement to get rid of standardized testing, since it encourages kids to cram, which is bad for long term retention of the material. 

Sadly, while some improvements have been made, steps backward have also been taken. The school year is longer than ever, my sister gets just 9 weeks off from school in the summer now I hear, 2 weeks shorter than the summer break when I was in school. The school day is also longer, it starts at 7:30 AM now, compared to 8:15 AM when I was in school. The student to teacher ratio is worse than ever, and teachers are still greatly underpaid. The US education system could use a major revamp for sure. 

Last edited by shikamaru317 - on 18 February 2019

shikamaru317 said:

The school day is also longer, it starts at 7:30 AM now, compared to 8:15 AM when I was in school.

Heh. It was 8:15 AM here in Finland when I was in school, but recently there has been more and more talk about having school start later, especially for adolescents.

I'm liking those ideas especially the angle of encouraging student to want to learn and develop the reflex to question things.

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Mnementh said:
VAMatt said:

I might say that kids need to learn the value of hard work and long hours (that's generally what leads one to financial success in most modern, industrialized places).

This is not true and was never true. Hard work and long hours were always reserved for the ones on the lower end of society. Success is either determined by ingenious thoughts or (more likely) by money of your family.

That's irrelevant.  My point was the the criteria are too subjective, and can be cherry picked to give just about any result one wants to see. 

shikamaru317 said:

The school year is longer than ever, my sister gets just 9 weeks off from school in the summer now I hear, 2 weeks shorter than the summer break when I was in school. The school day is also longer, it starts at 7:30 AM now, compared to 8:15 AM when I was in school. The student to teacher ratio is worse than ever, and teachers are still greatly underpaid. The US education system could use a major revamp for sure. 

In my district (Fairfax County) middle and high schools are starting later than they did when I was in school (HS class of 1998).  The summer break is exactly the same as when I was in school - early/mid June through Labor day.  Student to teacher ratios have moved way, way down.   Teacher pay has gone up a fair amount, to the point where it is no longer reasonable to argue that they're underpaid, especially when you consider that their work weeks average to about 32 hours over the course of a year.  

With that said, I agree tat the US education system needs a major revamp.  Public schools have become ridiculously expensive, to the point where it is much more expensive to send a kid to public school than private, for a far inferior education.  I favor getting government completely out of it, so that kids can get a decent education at a much better price, free from political interference and bureaucratic bloat.  

FentonCrackshell said:
I live in Saint Lucie Country Florida and here teachers aren’t allowed to give kids a 0 grade if they don’t do the work. The lowest grade they’re allowed to give is a 50%. So if there’s a struggling student who gets say a 58% after trying really hard then a lazy ass who doesn’t do the work at all there’s only 8% difference in their score. I think that’s bull and it’s only done as a way to make the schools not look as poor as they’d look if they gave kids zeros. I’ve had this discussion with my son’s teachers and they also agree that it’s foolishness.

Tell them to bell curve it and shift the other student s results up lol.



Mnementh said:

OK, you talked about demography, but 'abnormally low student to teacher ratio' is no demographic issue but an issue about how much money the country is willing to spend on education, and how this money is spent. I would always argue, that smaller classes is always a way to success, so it comes down to the willingness to spend the money on the teachers.

I see your argument about standardized tests as competition+fair comparison on equal grounds. Tell me if I misrepresent it. For competition: I am opposed to standardized tests, not to testing at all. But a test tailored from the teacher to his class is much better than something made for everyone in the country. it still provides ground for competition and personal betterment. You can try to improve your grade in comparison to last year or in comparison to your classmates. The second reason is silly in my opinion. The idea to have grades that can gauge the success of the student on a national scale is ridiculous in my opinion. I am not sure if grades work in that way at all. They are good for competition and helping you to see your personal progress. But universities should ignore grades altogether and have always individual entrance exams to chose the most qualified students. This works much better than grade that are only semicomparable, even with all the tries at standardization. Again, this means bigger investments education as entrance exams need more personell to evaluate. SATs simply are the cheap way.

So yes, in my opinion more and better trained educators are great for better results. The other stuff may have effects too, but is not that impactful.

'Demographics' can mean many things as it relates to statistical data for populations and a low student to teacher ratio is arguably very statistically significant. Finland is also a relatively ethnically homogeneous population as well so that can also distort comparisons as well. It's a multitude of factors that allows Finland's educational system to succeed that can't be easily replicated ... 

No, you're right on the point that it's exactly what standardized testing is all about and that is a uniform way to benchmark the students. A test tailored by the teacher isn't fair to the other students in the country because some tests could end up being either easier or harder with other teachers ... 

I'm not quite certain what you mean by 'grades' but if you meant the letter grades that are handed out in secondary schools then it is exactly what standardized testing is meant to combat against. Universities should not tolerate grade inflation from secondary schools so there's another argument to be made in favour of standardized testing from this perspective which is why SATs or a gaokao are treated as post-secondary school entrance exams. I can't even fathom why there's so much objection to standardized testing when universities are not so different in this aspect. School wide final examinations are held for the same course in different class sections but on top of it all schools at least want to be decent enough to meet accreditation standards so their testing methodology would have to meet some rigorous intellectual standards ... 

For many other countries, using standardized testing as a way to enhance results is not necessarily wrong like we see with East Asia. Finland has their own educational system but that doesn't mean we should construe it to be the only correct model for education because there exists just as viable alternatives ... 

The major thing I took away from the video is that it is illegal to start up a school (I'm assuming non-university level) and charge money for admission in Finland. That is enormous. So much of the problems of US education are because of how lopsided our school systems are. Even with public schools, there is a public school for the rich neighborhoods and a public school for everyone else. But then you add in private and charter schools and it's so, so much worse.