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There are many reasons why Finland has the best education system in the world, but here in the United States, we still love to brag about being number one.
Except when it comes to education. To learn about the state of education in the US, click here.
In education, the US regularly ranks around 37th in the world. Frankly, many of us are lucky we can spell USA well enough to chant it in sporting events!
But Finland consistently rates among the best in the world in education. The small Nordic country best known for giving the world Nokia phones, angry birds, and heavy metal music is actually a leader in world education.
Not only does Finland have the highest high school graduation rate in Europe but on International tests, Finnish students regularly rank near the top in reading, math and science.
And the Finns do this without overloading kids with endless hours of homework or turning school into mindless drudgery.
Finland provides all families, particularly low-income families, with a huge social safety net. The Finish government sends a baby box of supplies to every family with a newborn child. From then on, childcare is heavily subsidized. This allows most families to send their children to some form of early childhood education.
Finland’s public schools also concentrate on making sure that every student achieves basic proficiency in the subjects that they study. This is one of the reasons why the achievement gap that exists between the rich and poor is so low in Finland.
Reason number 2: They’re way more relaxed
Finnish children don’t even start school until they turn 7. Once they’re in school, they get almost triple the amount of recess time as American students. They’re rarely assigned homework until high school and they almost never take standardized tests. In fact, Finnish students are only required to take one standardized test and that’s not until the end of high school.
Reason number 3: Teachers are actually respected
Becoming a teacher isn’t easy in Finland. There are only 8 universities that offer the Master’s programs required to earn a teaching credential. Furthermore, only one in ten applicants get accepted to the programs, so it’s no surprise that teachers in Finland receive roughly the same level of respect as doctors and lawyers. Thanks to powerful unions, Finnish teachers only spent 4 hours a day in the classroom and take 2 hours a week for professional development. They also don’t have to deal with merit pay.
Reason number 4: Finns believe that less is more
When it comes to education, patience, hands-on learning, and focusing on problem-solving are more important than listening to lectures, mindless test preparations, and memorization of information that students will probably forget as soon as they leave the exam room. Finnish teachers don’t race through lessons to cram as much information as possible into student’s heads so that the students can then spit that information back out on a standardized test. Instead they give a priority to moving slowly and taking as much time as necessary to thoroughly investigate fewer topics but in much greater depth.
Reason number 5: Finns have fewer social problems
Finland may not be a socialist paradise, but it’s pretty close. Almost everyone in Finland is middle class, so income inequality is a big issue. Almost all Finnish kids come to school well fed, rested, and ready to learn. There are no metal detectors and no cops patrolling the school hallways. Finland also has far fewer immigrant students. Only one in forty students in Finnish schools have immigrant parents compared to US public schools where one in five have immigrant parents.
That means there are not nearly as many kids in Finland schools who are trying to learn math, science and history in a completely new language while also trying to learn that new language itself.
What can Americans learn from this?
So should we in the US just admit that the Finns know education better than we do and go ahead and abandon our system and adopt theirs?
That would be quite difficult.
There are plenty of ways to learn from countries like Finland that do things very differently but have a proven track record of achieving better results. Our role is to be more open to what educational innovators are doing around the globe. If we could stop shouting ‘We’re number one” long enough to listen, that will be a great start.
This article describes the state of education in Singapore. To read about the state of education in the US, click here.
They budget for education in both money and land resources
Every weekday morning across the small island nation of Singapore, children arrive at state schools while the children come from different economic and cultural backgrounds. They are all offered the same quality of instruction with 20% of the national budget devoted to education.
Singapore has developed a well-resourced and world-leading educational system. With the world becoming much smaller and more globally competitive, we will explore what’s going on in the Singapore education system and find what we can replicate in the United States.
Teachers receive highly focused training
What’s remarkable about the places that out-compete America is that they focus on collaborative environments where kids and teachers can thrive. They also focus on building the best professional class of teachers possible.
Teachers are the heart of education so it stands to reason that schools that trains teachers are the heart of the whole education system. In Singapore, the National Institute of Education trains all teachers in the school system. Top performing students are selected for specific subjects and teaching positions. The candidates are then given a rigorous 21st century training to prepare them for a lifelong career in education. The Singapore education system is always open to look at new domains of study. The total ultimate focus is, “how do we prepare a better teacher so they can bring the best education to the students in the classroom?”
Walking around this campus demonstrates how importantly the government views the National Institute of Education. Singapore is a nation where square footage for the land is worth its weight in gold and diamonds, and the government still gives nearly 40 acres devoted to teacher education and development!
Teachers operate in a collaborative environment
Kids in school are happy to learn there, but equally important is what the teachers are doing in every classroom. Teachers can explain what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and the connection between what they’re doing and the learning that kids are accomplishing.
In math classes, there is a really interesting pedagogical method focused on visualization instead of memorization. Students use blocks to see what’s more and what’s less.
You also see as part of this a real focus on language immersion so that kids are understanding what more than means and what less than means. Overall, there is a recognition that post-secondary education is important for all students—not only the top performers!
The state of the art Institute of Technical Education involves businesses in shaping their curriculum and preparing students for employment. Students develop and market products that require some scientific knowledge such as dish soap. Then they pick up other basic skills for entrepreneurship when they go and work for someone else. They learn to appreciate how business or operating will be able to contribute more to the organization.
At the Tampines school, eight-year-old students learn how to us MS Excel. The education system engages with them in such a way that technology is infused as a tool to accomplish tangible objectives. Teachers are constantly working with each other in a collaborative and trusting environment to enhance this effort.
Accountability is replaced with empowerment
Finally, teachers do not talk about test-based accountability. Principals don’t talk about test-based accountability. This is the education standard in Singapore.
How To Homeschool Your Children Like Finland Does—By Sir Ken Robinson
When I moved to the United States, I was told various things like, “Americans don’t get irony.” Have you come across this idea? It’s not true. I’ve traveled the whole length and breadth of this country. I have found no evidence that Americans don’t get irony.
I knew that Americans get irony when I came across that legislation, “No Child Left Behind.” Because whoever thought of that title gets irony.
No Child Left Behind Leaves Children Behind
It’s leaving millions of children behind. In some parts of the country, 60 percent of kids drop out of high school. In the Native American communities, it’s 80 percent of kids. If we halved that number, one estimate is it would create a net gain to the U.S. economy over 10 years of nearly a trillion dollars. From an economic point of view, this is good math, isn’t it, that we should do this? It actually costs an enormous amount to mop up the damage from the dropout crisis. But the dropout crisis is just the tip of an iceberg.
What the statistics couldn’t count are all the kids who are in school but being disengaged from it, who don’t enjoy it, and who don’t get any real benefit from it. And the reason is not that we’re not spending enough money. America spends more money on education than most other countries. Class sizes are smaller than in many countries. And there are hundreds of initiatives every year to try and improve education.
The trouble is, it’s all going in the wrong direction.
There are three principles on which human life flourishes, and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labor and most students have to endure.
Principle #1: Human beings are naturally different and diverse
Education under “No Child Left Behind” is based on not diversity but conformity. What schools are encouraged to do is to find out what kids can do across a very narrow spectrum of achievement. One of the effects of “No Child Left Behind” has been to narrow the focus onto the so-called STEM disciplines. They’re very important. I’m not here to argue against science and math. On the contrary, they’re necessary but they’re not sufficient.
A real education has to give equal weight to the arts, the humanities, to physical education.
One estimate in America currently is that something like 10 percent of kids, getting on that way are being diagnosed with various conditions under the broad title of attention deficit disorder. ADHD. If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget, you know?
Kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents, not just a small range of them. And by the way, the arts aren’t just important because they improve math scores. They’re important because they speak to parts of children’s being which are otherwise untouched.
Principle #2 Human life flourishes in curiosity
If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance most times. Children are natural learners. It’s a real achievement to build that particular ability out, or to stifle it. Curiosity is the engine of achievement.
One of the effects of the current learning culture has been to de-professionalize teachers. There is no system in the world or any school in the country that is better than its teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools. But teaching is a creative profession. Teaching, properly conceived, is not a delivery system. You’re not there just to pass on received information. Great teachers do that, but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage.
In the end, education is about learning. If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on. And people can spend an awful lot of time discussing education without ever discussing learning. The whole point of education is to get people to learn.
The Difference Between A Task And An Achievement
You can be engaged in the activity of something, but not really be achieving it, like dieting. It’s a very good example. There he is. He’s dieting. Is he losing any weight? Not really.
Teaching is a word like that. You can say, “There’s Deborah, she’s in room 34, she’s teaching.” But if nobody’s learning anything, she may be engaged in the task of teaching but not actually fulfilling it. The role of a teacher is to facilitate learning. That’s it. And part of the problem is, I think, that the dominant culture of education has come to focus on not teaching and learning, but testing.
Now, testing is important. Standardized tests have a place. But they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic. They should help. If I go for a medical examination, I want some standardized tests. I do. I want to know what my cholesterol level is compared to everybody else’s on a standard scale.
But all that testing should support learning. It shouldn’t obstruct it, which of course it often does. So in place of curiosity, what we have is a culture of compliance. Our children and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite that power of imagination and curiosity.
Principle #3: Human Life Is Inherently Creative
It’s why we all have different résumés. We create our lives, and we can recreate them as we go through them. It’s the common currency of being a human being. It’s why human culture is so interesting and diverse and dynamic. I mean, other animals may well have imaginations and creativity, but it’s not so much in evidence, is it, as ours?
We all create our own lives through this restless process of imagining alternatives and possibilities, and one of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of creativity. Instead, what we have is a culture of standardization.
Now, it doesn’t have to be that way. It really doesn’t. Finland regularly comes out on top in math, science and reading. Now, we only know that’s what they do well at, because that’s all that’s being tested. That’s one of the problems of the test. They don’t look for other things that matter just as much.
Education In Finland: Three Things They Never Measure
1. Specific Disciplines
They have a very broad approach to education, which includes humanities, physical education, the arts.
2. Standardized Testing
I mean, there’s a bit, but it’s not what gets people up in the morning, what keeps them at their desks.
3. Dropout Rates
The third thing was at a meeting recently with some people from Finland, actual Finnish people, and somebody from the American system was saying to the people in Finland, “What do you do about the drop-out rate in Finland?” And they all looked a bit bemused, and said, “Well, we don’t have one. Why would you drop out? If people are in trouble, we get to them quite quickly and we help and support them.”
Now people always say, “Well, you know, you can’t compare Finland to America.” No. I think there’s a population of around five million in Finland. But you can compare it to a state in America. Many states in America have fewer people in them than that.
But what all the high-performing systems in the world do is currently what is not evident, sadly, across the systems in America as a whole.
Here’s What Finland Is Doing To Build Education
Finland individualizes teaching and learning
They recognize that it’s students who are learning and the system has to engage them, their curiosity, their individuality, and their creativity. That’s how you get them to learn.
Finland attributes a very high status to the teaching profession
They recognize that you can’t improve education if you don’t pick great people to teach and keep giving them constant support and professional development. Investing in professional development is not a cost. It’s an investment, and every other country that’s succeeding well knows that, whether it’s Australia, Canada, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai. They know that to be the case.
Finland localizes responsibility at the school level for getting the job done
There’s a big difference here between going into a mode of command and control in education. Central or state governments decide, they know best and they’re going to tell you what to do. The trouble is that education doesn’t go on in the committee rooms of our legislative buildings. It happens in classrooms and schools, and the people who do it are the teachers and the students, and if you remove their discretion, the system stops working. You have to put it back to the people.
Many of the current policies are based on mechanistic conceptions of education. It’s like education is an industrial process that can be improved just by having better data, and somewhere in the back of the mind of some policy makers is this idea that if we fine-tune it well enough, if we just get it right, it will all hum along perfectly into the future. It won’t, and it never did.
The point is that education is not a mechanical system. It’s a human system.
It’s about people, people who either do want to learn or don’t want to learn. Every student who drops out of school has a reason for it which is rooted in their own biography. They may find it boring. They may find it irrelevant. They may find that it’s at odds with the life they’re living outside of school. There are trends, but the stories are always unique.
Here’s What Education In The United States Looks Like
I was at a meeting recently in Los Angeles of they’re called alternative education programs. These are programs designed to get kids back into education. They have certain common features. They’re very personalized. They have strong support for the teachers, close links with the community and a broad and diverse curriculum, and often programs which involve students outside school as well as inside school. And they work. What’s interesting to me is, these are called “alternative education.”
And all the evidence from around the world says, if we all did that, there’d be no need for the alternative. So I think we have to embrace a different metaphor. We have to recognize that it’s a human system, and there are conditions under which people thrive, and conditions under which they don’t. We are after all organic creatures, and the culture of the school is absolutely essential. Culture is an organic term, isn’t it?
Not far from where I live is a place called Death Valley. Death Valley is the hottest, driest place in America, and nothing grows there. Nothing grows there because it doesn’t rain. In the winter of 2004, it rained in Death Valley. Seven inches of rain fell over a very short period. And in the spring of 2005, there was a phenomenon. The whole floor of Death Valley was carpeted in flowers for a while. What it proved is this: that Death Valley isn’t dead. It’s dormant. Right beneath the surface are these seeds of possibility waiting for the right conditions to come about, and with organic systems, if the conditions are right, life is inevitable.
It happens all the time. You take an area, a school, a district, you change the conditions, give people a different sense of possibility, a different set of expectations, a broader range of opportunities, you cherish and value the relationships between teachers and learners, you offer people the discretion to be creative and to innovate in what they do, and schools that were once bereft spring to life. Great leaders know that.
The real role of leadership in education and I think it’s true at the national level, the state level, at the school level is not and should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control, creating a climate of possibility. And if you do that, people will rise to it and achieve things that you completely did not anticipate and couldn’t have expected.
Conclusion with a quote from Ben Franklin
There are three sorts of people in the world: Those who are immovable, people who don’t get it, or don’t want to do anything about it; there are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it; and there are people who move, people who make things happen.
And if we can encourage more people, that will be a movement. And if the movement is strong enough, that’s, in the best sense of the word, a revolution. And that’s what we need.
College and high school students are turning to Study With Me videos to destroy homework procrastination. Their lives are no different from older generations. Today’s students seek support. They feel lonely sometimes. To solve this, students turn to technology to increase their motivation. They hold each other accountable. They take the library to their laptop with study tubers.
This trend has a long history of development on the web that starts with ASMR.
The term ASMR has its online roots in chat forums and stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response dating back to 2007. Maria of Gentle Whispering ASMR fame associates the trend with childhood. “Whenever your mother would treat you delicately, or your doctor or teacher would talk to you gently… The caring touch is the biggest trigger.”
ASMR creators assume that people need to feel personally comforted on the Internet. As early pioneers like Maria realized that quiet soothing sounds produce spine-tingling sensations in people, they used sound to facilitate the experience. Things like the sound of scissors when getting a hair cut. Or crunching food as it is being eaten. Even just whispering can have an effect.
Study With Me Origins
Now imagine a world where life as a student sucks. Everyone expects you to succeed. You’re not doing that. Homework procrastination is so easy. The pressure to succeed is overwhelming.
From that pain point, study tubers today get millions of views on YouTube from doing just one thing: study. In front of a video camera. All by themselves. With the ASMR sounds of pencils scratching notes on paper.
Study with me videos have their origins in ASMR. ASMR creators would make low-budget videos based on their surroundings in their bedroom and living rooms. In September 2014 YouTuber Oldwonderfulsounds read a particularly boring academic article titled “The High Prevalence of Injury Among Female Bassoonists” to put her readers sleep. She stapled the papers together carefully at her desk. She even took notes as she read to her viewers.
Other YouTubers intent on creating alternatives to their normal content would get stuck with revising for exams. In April 2015, ASMRAlice in the UK used her school homework as a tool to create ASMR effects. With whispers and explanations, Alice flips through sticky notes and scratches words on paper from her desk in her video.
The combination of study ASMR didn’t exactly create award-winning content.
Study With Me Study Tuber #1
Mercifully, there was Heleen from Brussels. Anxious about finding some study buddies, she posted in May 2015 about creating a place for people to connect and learn together.
Determined to stop her homework procrastination, Heleen took action. She did not focus on not getting more friends in school. Her channel never showcased fashionable style to get extra clicks for video production. Heleen realized beautiful stationary and back to school videos would not inspire an A. Instead, she shared her desire to build a connected community focused on study.
Three years later, Heleen tells me that people keep coming back because they can find a positive environment to study in. Visitors chat during scheduled 10 minute breaks. As for Heleen, she is on the verge of beginning a career in chemical engineering as she finishes her master’s degree.
Her demeanor is simple, straightforward, and always friendly. According to Heleen, “If I had never started streaming, I would continue procrastinating. I was getting bad grades in math and would have failed. This is an accountability system for me. There is a sense of collaboration and usefulness to our work together.” During our conversation, I was most struck my Heleen’s sense of gratitude to give back to the community that had inspired.
It was as if she owed them something.
Since Heleen posted the first ever study with me video on June 1st, 2015, thousands of students have joined the movement to create their own videos. Millions of students are following these channels across YouTube. You can read more about the varying approaches to study with me videos here.
Expert Perspective: What the Critics Say
Smaller education companies are getting in the mix too. At Studygate, students are creating micro Study With Me sessions with their classmates. Too often, you know what you need to do but just can’t take the first step. Study with me sessions solve that and gives you a place to feel connected with your classmates.
Of course, there are many reasons to question the value of studying with other humans online. MIT professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle believes “the Internet is taking us places we don’t want to go. We remove ourselves from our grief or from our revery, and we go into our phones… we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring.”
Turkle is right that emotions of sadness and excitement are neutralized online, but other professors are slower to condemn a movement dedicated to beating homework procrastination.
Mitchell Nathan is professor of educational psychology and learning sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He compares Study With Me videos with parallel play when young children build blocks next to each other without directly getting involved in the other’s actions. Interest is there, but full engagement is not needed. Nathan describes study with me sessions as a time when “You’re ignoring each other, but that’s still much more preferable than doing it all by yourself.”
Stefan van der Stigchel teaches experimental psychology at the University of Utrecht and describes Study With Me videos as an opportunity to find a place of belonging. “You have the same thing in a library, you just have to look around you to see that you’re all doing the same thing, that’s motivating.”
The Future of Study
Today it’s easy to look at the lives of future generations and believe their experiences will be worse than our own. If humans use technology to be more productive and get better grades, we still have to apply these to things that matter. What are we doing to positively impact the lives of others?
Heleen used the digital tools around her to build a group of friends. To encourage accountability. She made discipline out of homework procrastination. And she did it on YouTube.
As Study With Me videos continue to grow, we should look at the trend as a tool to inspire tomorrow’s leaders. So thank you YouTube. And thanks Heleen. For taking homework procrastination out of the Internet.
Parenting.com contributor Teri Cettina could have used the caterpillar to butterfly metaphor. She emphasized the importance of not doing your child’s homework for them in a recent blog.
Cettina makes a great point. If we don’t let others struggle, they won’t build strength needed for tomorrow. I still remember my mom telling my five-year-old self not to help that butterfly escape the cocoon. We must treat our children with the same care. We must let them grow within uncertainty and struggle in a safe environment.
But school is turning into a giant rat race. Today, I see concerned parents of children as young as the kindergarten age focused on making sure their child competes. How can we help our children succeed when they get stuck and don’t have the answers? What can we do if the teachers themselves are incompetent?
As so often happens, my answer came from an unexpected place.
I started a hiking Meetup this month and met a parent with some great insight into this question. Meet Douglas Zaldana. He has five children. The first three went to school without Common Core. The last two attended school with Common Core.
Common Core is certainly a term we are all used to hearing. President Trump campaigned against it in the 2016 elections. But what does Common Core actually look like?
Well, the homework above meets Common Core standards of learning for second grade students. Parents experience frustration more than ever when teaching their children even these basic concepts.
At least that’s what occurred with Zaldana. He related on the hike somewhere along Eaton Canyon: “I could coach my first three children with their homework, but not even they could help their younger siblings!”
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos would happily dismantle Common Core. However, the standards represent a series of benchmarks and not an actual curriculum. Which makes it pretty hard to tear apart since states decide whether or not to use Common Core. Not the federal government.
States are taking a wide variety of approaches to following the Common Core standards.
Zaldana taught me that listening to young people and empowering them to find their own solutions are the best courses of action. So if your child’s homework looks incomprehensible, you can do one of two things:
Make a donation to your local school district by writing a check in Common Core notation and remind teachers that you’re not enrolled in class this year.
Find a tutor who knows what your student is going through, can check the work themselves, and can discuss the matter at a decent price. Here is a list of common core tutors available to assist on StudyGate 24/7.
Even before Common Core, learning wasn’t easy. To stay ahead of the curve, make sure your child can at least connect with someone who understands.
It’s May! That means state testing, prom, research projects, just a bit more homework than you bargained for, and a whole bunch of other things that can really take a toll on your focus. It’s easy to start slacking right around this time of year. The end of the school year is in sight, summer’s on the way, the weather’s nicer, everything seems more upbeat and relaxed. But you’ve got to stay motivated!
Don’t fall for it!
There’s a lot you can do to sabotage yourself in this critical time in the academic year. It’s okay to stop and smell the roses every now and then, but you’ve also got to stand up straight, square your shoulders, and put in the work. Here are four ways to help you do that:
Organize and Prioritize
If there was ever a time to stay organized, this is it. With so much going on in school and at home, it’s important to keep every date, every obligation, every meeting straight in your head. If you don’t already, keep a planner handy to write down things that you know you need to take care of in the future. Then, rank those things from most to least important. Now, you can direct your attention to the things that need it the most, and you’ll feel less stressed as a result!
Speaking of stress, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on around you. In the midst of all the chaos, take time to slow down and understand what you’re working on. Group projects and research assignments pile up during this time of year, so it’s a good idea to be especially aware of your work habits and how you’re feeling. When choosing how to divide your time, be selective! Ask for help if you can’t meet a deadline, focus on delivering quality work, and above all, set aside some time to take care of your health.
Get Some Perspective
The tests you take during this important season can improve or hurt your chances of ending up with that A you’ve been working so hard for, or the high SAT or AP score that will take you to the college of your dreams. It’s a crucial moment! But that’s all it is. A single moment in the vast timeline that is your life. Don’t put any unnecessary stress on yourself. One test does not decide what your entire future will be. Chin up, shoulders back, do your very best, and your future will fall into place, you’ll see!
Remember Your Goals
There are so many contradictory things about May. It’s testing season, and you shouldstudy hard, but prom is coming up, and you want to party hard. Graduation is coming up, and you feel like you’re finished, but those last few assignments count—it’s not over yet! Take time to remember your goals. What did you set out to achieve? Make them more visible in your everyday life. Write them on post-it notes and stick it in your notebook, on your refrigerator, on your bathroom mirror, EVERYWHERE. With summer around the corner, it’s very easy to get distracted with all the fun things going on, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to stop short of the finish line.
Students, this is time to remain focused and do all you can to finish the school year strong! Keep yourself accountable, check your urges to slack off, and accomplish what you set out to do! For more helpful tips, homework help, test preparation, and one-on-one tutoring, visit us at StudyGate.com!
Students are blurring the lines between academic honesty and legitimate study more and more as time goes on. While the nature of cheating is still clearly defined, students can now find help online in a multitude of ways. It can be difficult to determine what is dishonest and what isn’t.
For example, is it cheating if a tutor works out a math related homework problem for a student to study later? The student did not technically do the work, but the student does not turn it is as his or her own work. The distinction is becoming more and more unclear.
As students go further in their academic careers, there is a greater urge to be academically dishonest. The students who have cheated in the past will continue to do so. But what about everyone else? What about the students who normally perform well, but find the need to find extra help elsewhere? There are many reasons why students cheat, but the most consequential reasons come from the fact that students in higher education are often pitted against an unforgiving system that gives very few second chances.
Many rigorous college courses weigh some assignments more heavily than others. It’s very common for a teacher to instruct a course in which there are two important assignments—a midterm and a final, or a final and a research project. The homework has little, if any, influence on the final grade. Students understand that they’ve got to learn strategy if they want to succeed in higher education. It’s not enough to just show up, listen, and do the assignments. You’ve got to know how to work the numbers and figure out what hits you can and cannot afford to take. If both your tests are each 40% of your final grade, and you don’t do so well on the first one, you know you’re performing damage control for the rest of the semester. This is part of the problem. Students will do anything to boost or stabilize that grade percentage. Sometimes, they run into situations that are less about ethics and more about survival.
Full Speed Ahead
The pace of the course is also a contributing factor to why students cheat. You’ve got to be absolutely ready for a midterm in a ten-week course because, again, doing poorly will cost you for the rest of the term. It’s one thing to have difficulty learning at such a rapid pace. Being penalized for it is another matter entirely! Yes, that’s just part of the challenges students face in higher education and they should learn to adjust. But the breakneck pace leads to a lot of anxiety among students who have a lot depending on the outcome of a course. A low or average grade could cause a student to miss out on an internship, university admission, or scholarship. The challenge itself is not what causes academic dishonesty. The outcome and subsequent effect on a student’s life is enough for even the most ethical student to weigh their options more closely.
Many universities around the country offer courses with an enrollment size of 100 or more students total. Professors often do not have time to get to know each student individually, much less learn their handwriting, work ethic, and learning style. Academic dishonesty becomes much more attractive knowing that the instructor may not know that the student is cheating in the first place. It’s much harder to do in community colleges or schools with smaller class sizes, but is relatively easy in larger university courses.
So What’s The Takeaway?
I don’t believe new technology has any influence over a student’s decision to cheat. The way we cheat today is the same way we’ve cheated 30 years ago, those methods have just moved to an online format. However, today’s students are aware that they have to understand the system they’re engaged in if they want to survive. Every course syllabus explains the weight of various assignments. The student decides what to focus on. If they slip up on a certain assignment, or perform poorly on a test, they understand that it’s not enough just to do well on the next one. Academic dishonesty isn’t necessarily a route for lazy students to avoid applying themselves. It’s also a way for students to stack the odds in their favor. If we want to address the growing threat of academic dishonesty, we first need to understand the situation students all over the country contend with. It’s so much more than just studying and taking tests. It’s strategy, too.
For homework help, one-on-one tutoring, and more articles like these, visit StudyGate.com!
Harvard president Charles Eliot expresses how difficult it is to provide an education that leaves students prepared for the workforce in his 1869 article, The New Education. On one hand, he champions trade schools. He cites their usefulness in producing effective workers with a strong sense of practicality. On the other hand, he recognizes the need to develop the American educational system to cultivate strong thinkers and educators. His difficulty in finding a comprehensive education presented a problem that still exists today.
About forty years ago, lifestyle courses such as home economics and wood shop were serious elective classes. They taught important skill sets for everyday life. As schools slightly shifted their focus to boosting academic test scores, these classes have taken a backseat and gained a reputation for being “easy A” courses. They are basically where unmotivated students can gain extra credits toward graduation.
In recent years, however, schools like Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Washington are starting to combine Advanced Placement courses with vocational classes to provide much needed hands-on experience and better prepare students for life after high school, according to a recent PBS article. It’s a move that could potentially lead us to emphasize that pragmatism and scholarship go hand in hand. Here are a few reasons why this improvement is a step toward Eliot’s vision that will give students the tools to be more productive and successful in the future.
Practice Over Theory
Typically, high schools separate hands-on experiences from textbook learning as students get older. Yes, many courses incorporate effective learning exercises into their curriculum, but at the end of the day, there is a greater emphasis on standardized testing and sprucing up that all-important college transcript. Students mostly apply their knowledge to hypothetical situations. While this may do wonders for test scores, abstract theories do not completely prepare students for the future. In short, students learn by doing things. The more things they do, the more they think about their skills and work they want to pursue in the future.
Practical Skills Are Essential For Survival
Home economics, wood shop, auto repair, and other vocational courses teach valuable skills that adults use every day. While it is important to learn advanced science and math concepts, learning to cook a complete meal is equally important. Students need to learn basic survival skills, such as how to change a tire, change oil, sewing, tax preparation, and so much more. As students transition into college life, these skills will give them a sense of independence.
More Application, Less Memorization
In most AP courses, students rapidly move through difficult concepts and lessons throughout the year, taking tests regularly. Then, over the months of March and April, students and teachers shift into test preparation mode. They study the AP test format, nailing down all the definitions and possible questions and preparing students for the big test in May. These courses are useful for teaching students advanced concepts and how to take on challenges, but they are ultimately test centered. The knowledge gained is quickly lost. Students at Tesla STEM High School agree that applying knowledge to real-world situations helps them understand the material. One student links behavioral sciences to a career in forensics, saying that, “The lab work really puts things in perspective and makes them easier to understand when we take tests.”
Mixing Students Of Different Academic Levels Could Be Beneficial
In our current academic culture, the gifted and talented students are slowly separated from everyone else. In high school, there is a clear distinction. Mixing students of various skill has the potential to increase learning by removing status as a factor in academic success. The students normally suited to AP courses can apply their knowledge with other students and learn to become problem solvers. They learn how to work in a team of people will different backgrounds and skill sets. Students who lack the skills to succeed in college and beyond would face greater challenges and demand excellence from themselves. A learning environment plays a significant role in a student’s success and there is a lot that they can do to support each other.
A man cannot run an organization or company without having first performed the organization’s basic services, according to Eliot. A doctor cannot become the head of a major medical institution without having spent time with actual patients. The same concept applies here. Students will be better off if they apply their advanced lessons to real situations. Knowledge coupled with experience yields longer lasting success, and it is time that our educational system reflected this principle.
For more articles about education, homework help, study tips, and one-on-one tutoring, visit StudyGate.com!
What is the point of going to college? Is it only supposed to prepare you for the workforce? Or should it broaden the mind and expand one’s ability for developing and understanding new ideas? This question has plagued the minds, the lives, and the relationships between students and parents all over the country for decades.
It’s deeply troubling. But it doesn’t need to be.
A Matter Of Finances
As it turns out, the perceived purpose of college has been in debate for quite some time. On February 28th, 1967, the national conversation took a turn into territory that informs the way many people, students and parents alike, think about college in the present day.
On the day in question, Ronald Reagan held a press conference on the topic of the 1968 presidential election. He was the newly elected governor of the state of California at the time. The reporter’s line of questioning turned to the state budget. That’s when Reagan shifted his focus to education. When asked whether cuts in education were necessary, Reagan’s initial response was:
“…there’s no one in this administration that intends to do anything that will be harmful to education. But we do believe that there are certain intellectual luxuries that perhaps we co do without a year or two without hurting the cause of education. And we’ve asked for their cooperation both at the college and university level, in finding those things that can be done without getting into the real meat.”
Useful vs. Useless Majors
These “intellectual luxuries” Reagan referred to are liberal arts courses. The then-governor cites courses where students learn to organize political demonstrations and repair band instruments as examples, but we can safely extend his point to include many of the more arts-centered subjects as well as the humanities.
This idea—that some courses are less valuable than others and are therefore not considered part of a good education—is one that is alive and well today. If you ask a college student who is still undecided why they have not yet chosen an area of study, most students will say they do not know what kind of career they want to pursue. That seems to be the prime reason why undecided college students cannot choose an option. It is not because they are dazzled by the number of courses available for study. It is because they are preoccupied with finding the right subject that ultimately yields the greatest career and financial opportunities.
Parents all over the country urge their children to earn a degree they’ll be able to “use” in the future. That does nothing but confuse them. Every student thinks: “I want to major in _____, but if I do, will I be able to find a job? Are there even jobs available for this subject area? Will I make enough money to support myself?” It’s a harrowing, ultimately unnecessary thought that only holds the student back and dampens their ambition. The student places all their focus on one aspect of their future—earning a living. It neglects all other aspects that can potentially boost their ability to do so. Here’s what I mean:
Yes, College Should Absolutely Prepare A Student For The Workforce…
There is no denying that a college education is an invaluable resource for everyone. Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals need to have a thorough understanding of medicine before they can even think about practicing in the real world. Business professionals need to learn about economics, finance, management, and a host of other concepts before they enter the working world. These things are non-negotiable. College can give a student the knowledge necessary to direct their natural gifts and earn a living to support themselves. However, it’s not exactly that simple.
…But It Should Also Refine Critical Thinking Skills And Fuel A Sense Of Curiosity…
Think back to any graduation ceremony you’ve ever attended. Celebrating a group of students who have the intellect and curiosity to someday change the world is the thesis of just about every speech you’ve ever heard. Why? Because good educators strongly believe in equipping students with the tools necessary to create, innovate, and solve major problems in our world. Yes, they want to you make a living, but education is ultimately about progress. Progress for you and your family. Also, progress for the children in our schools. Advancement matters for our society at large and for our world.
Progress takes a great deal of effort and thought. A college education should provide the tools to bring change.
…While Also Transmitting Culture Throughout Generations…
These days, students receive their civic and historical education largely though college. Think about it. In college, students (should) learn the importance of voting, the political process and the lasting impact our lawmakers’ decisions can have on us and our families, the history of many foreign countries and peoples, and so much more. Sure, much of this stuff is touched on in high school, but college is supposed to truly expand a student’s worldview. It is here that we learn about our role in society. These things are a crucial part of education because they ultimately decide our trajectory as a nation. Yesterday’s problems give rise to tomorrow’s solutions, which bring about more problems that need solving. College integrates students into a learning tradition in which old ideas are improved, built upon, or dispelled as per the current social dynamic.
…And Molding Students Into Functioning Adults.
There’s a reason why students leave home when they begin college. Being responsible for a certain number of classes per day, a certain amount of homework per week, and a bunch of extracurricular activities prepares students for the responsibilities of the real world. If you don’t show up to class, you could fail your course in the same way that you’ll be eating dinner in the dark if you don’t pay your electricity bill. Where do we learn to manage our time and commitments? Where do we truly feel the impact of our financial decisions and develop our social skills as adults? College.
Okay? So What?
Governor Reagan’s comments and the short-sighted attitudes that have survived over the years through our limited perception of college should not dictate how our students approach college and their future careers. Yes, of course college should prepare students for the workforce. That’s obvious, especially in our age of hyper-competitive job markets.
But we’re kidding ourselves if we want to pretend that’s all college is for.
Learning is a lifelong process. A professional in any field needs to know how to take a problem and come up with an effective solution, wonder how to change things for the better, and ultimately work well with others to create wonderful things.
While Reagan was absolutely right to emphasize job preparation, we must now include a proviso. Instead of encouraging students to pursue degrees that are directly applicable to certain industries, such as medicine and law, we must motivate them to cultivate their strengths so they will choose a major where they feel can achieve the most success. Students will find more success in this, because it allows them to rely on their own ambition and work ethic rather than the agonizing luck-of-the-draw approach we currently rely on.
College is so much more than a place to find the best way to squeeze a good living out of our education. It’s where we grow, mature, and where many of us discover what we think is important in life. Treating it as such will remove much of the stress and uncertainty from the college experience. It will enable our students, now and in the future, to decide on and commit to a path worth taking.
And that is a much better use of all of our time and effort.
For more thoughts on the state of education, homework help, and study tips, visit StudyGate.com.
“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War
It’s 6:30AM. You’ve had a good night’s sleep, ate a good breakfast, and you’re about to make your way to the test location for the big showdown. This is what you’ve been preparing for all these months. Now it’s time to put that training to the test.
This is the real thing! This is where it counts! Even with all that preparation, you’ll need to walk in with a winning strategy if you truly want to do your best. Listen up, solider! Here are some things you can do to stay confident in the fog of war and emerge victorious!
Before you leave, double check to make sure you’ve got all your important stuff. Make sure you’ve got your calculator, your pencils, erasers, snacks, and ESPECIALLY your watch. You can’t afford to leave a single thing behind. While you’re at it, make sure you’re carrying your I.D. and any test registration materials!
Set Up Your Station
As soon as you find your desk, lay out everything you need. Take out an eraser and an extra pencil, and keep everything else tucked away under your seat. You don’t know how tiny your work space is going to be, so make the most of it and minimize any distractions.
You vs. Time
When your test administrator has gone over all the rules and you’re allowed to begin, take a look at the top of the section you’re about to start. There is usually a suggested time limit printed at the top, and you should set a pace to work within these confines.
Remember that watch we told you about earlier? This is where it comes in handy (sorry).
Having the time right next to you all the time will help you stay focused on your test. If you have to crane your neck to look at the clock alllllllllll the way across the room (and see all the other anxious students working on their tests), it’s going to mess up your flow. You’ll never wonder how much time you have left because you can check it periodically and adjust your pace as you go!
Sacrifices Must Be Made
While taking your SAT practice tests, you tried to simulate the real test conditions as closely as you could, but you couldn’t help taking time to answer each question to the best of your knowledge. And that’s great!
But this is war.
And in war, you’ve got to count the cost of your actions.
If you come across a question that you cannot answer in a reasonable amount of time, or has you stuck between two or three answers, don’t hesitate to skip it. It may feel like you’re losing out on valuable points, but an unanswered question hurts less than a wrong one, and more correct answers are going to earn you a better score!
I understand you didn’t want to leave that question behind, son. I know you could have saved it.
But it ain’t worth it, soldier. Move on.
There will be a designated time to use the bathroom and take a short break. This is when you have your snacks! Yes, you’ll probably be hungry anyway, but OUR reason for bringing snacks is for morale. If you bring a snack you love, it’ll make you happier and put you back in a positive mood after a couple hours of testing. Then, go back in there in finish it off!
Live To Fight Another Day (Unless You’re Happy With The Result)
When you’ve handed in your test and have run far, far away from it, remember that you did your best, and that’s what counts. Also remember that you can take the SAT as many times as you want to improve your score. Many people take it two or three times! Get your results when they’re released and take the time to figure out where you excelled and where you could use improvement. Add these things to your strategy for next time, and increase your chances of scoring higher!
And that’s it! Keep yourself motivated, remember your training, stick to your test taking strategy, and we guarantee you’ll be successful! It’s all about keeping your cool, managing your time wisely and keeping yourself motivated. Once you understand that, half the battle is already won! For more helpful SAT tips and homework help, visit StudyGate.com! Dismissed!
If there’s one test that fuels the anxiety of millions of students around the United States, it’s the SAT. Students and parents alike invest tons of money, time, and energy into preparing for the test that will decide their fates, and many people prepare the wrong way. Contrary to popular belief (and all that bad advice you’ve gotten) the SAT is all about strategy. Taking the SAT is like going to war (just go with it), and if you’re going to war, then you need an effective plan. Take a look at these smart SAT strategies to help you prepare for battle and ready yourself for the big test.
1. Gather Some Intel
Whether you’re taking a subject test or the full-blown SAT, you need to know what kinds of questions you’re going to run into. Go to your local bookstore or library and pick up a couple of books with complete tests that you can practice with every few weeks. If you search online, you can find actual tests from previous years that you can practice on. Before you even THINK about registering for the SAT, take a practice test and see how you do. With any luck, you’ll do pretty badly, and that’s the perfect place to start your training!
2. Get The Lay Of The Land
I cannot stress this enough: The SAT is all aboutstrategy. You’ve got to know when to jump, when to slide, when to duck, and when to run for your life! Study the test format. The SAT is written with the easiest questions at the beginning and gets progressively harder as you go. Study the wording of each question. SAT writers love to use seven words to express what you could probably say with three. Get used to the language and the way certain questions are asked. The quicker you can read and anticipate what you’re being asked to do, the quicker you can answer and move on!
3. Words Win Wars
You know you’re in deep trouble when you’re taking the reading portion of the test, and you run into a word you don’t know.
Like “nadir”. Or “halcyon”.
You can try to guess the meaning through context clues, but if you can’t, you’re sunk. Get some flash cards and learn the definitions of just five SAT words per day. 5 per day turns into 35 per week! Also, take the time to read anything you can: books, articles, journal entries, essays, and try to figure out the author’s main point as quickly as you can. If you’re unprepared, the reading section is going to be a pain! Arm yourselves!
4. Meet Calculator, Your New Best Friend
In this battle, you’re allowed to bring only one weapon (besides your brain), and it’s your trusty scientific calculator. Your mastery of your calculator can potentially slow you down or give you a much needed speed boost! Take some quality time to learn every function, every shortcut, and every formula you need for the test. It will also clear room in your brain for other information you’ll need to memorize. Make sure you know which situations call for which formulas, but make your calculator do the heavy lifting.
5. Train Yourself
Now that you know the test inside out, learned a lot of big words, and bonded with your calculator, it’s time to begin your training. Set aside about 1 to 2 hours every other week to sit down and take a practice test from beginning to end. If you like, you can simulate actual test conditions to allow yourself to adjust. Take a test early in the morning, bring some snacks with you, close yourself off in a cold room, whatever you have to do! Pay special attention to the way you manage your time. Time is such an influential factor in the SAT experience—many students feel rushed at times and completely abandon their strategy in order to finish as many questions as possible. Make your time work for you!
6. Assemble A Survival Kit
On the day of the test, you shouldn’t be wondering where all your stuff is. Take a few minutes to gather everything you need. In your kit, you should include:
A bottle of water
A couple of extra pencils
Some (a lot of) snacks
A watch (yeah, the ones with the hands that you wear on your wrist)
Put ’em all in your favorite bag and store them close by so you can just grab it and leave. Simple.
Energy is your greatest resource when taking the SAT. It’s not time, intelligence, or anything else. When you’re sitting in that classroom, you’ve got to have a clear mind and sharp focus. What does this mean for you? For a start, eat a good breakfast! Get plenty of sleep the night before the test! Do all the healthy things you’re supposed to! You need to be in tip-top condition, so take care of yourself! Don’t leave anything to chance!
Preparing for the SAT is about dividing your attention between learning the material and developing your test taking strategy. Even though mastery of these two aspects will leave you in the best shape to perform well on the big test, you’re not out of the woods yet! In Part 2, we’ll show you how to handle yourself during the test! Stop by StudyGate.com for more helpful tips and homework help!
During the last year of my undergrad studies, I found it hard to focus.
I was finally approaching the end of a five-year journey that took me across countless classes in multiple cities, two community colleges, and (at last) one university, and I was DONE. We’re now in the middle of March, and for many of you, the work is piling up and you might feel the same way! You’re tired, you’re hungry, you didn’t get enough sleep last night, and you just want to finish that assignment you’ve been working on for hours. Even though concentrating can get harder as you get busier, don’t fret! There are ways you can get back on track, energized, and ready to take on any challenge. Those methods are part of what I like to call The Art of Focus.
Do Something Else
When you’ve been studying for hours, all those textbooks and homework assignments just start to blend together. Give yourself a break, go do something else! The trick is, it has to be something a little complex that makes you think—just in a different way! During midterm season, I liked to spread a puzzle (500 to 1000 pieces, please!) on a table in my room, and I would take a break and work on it every once in a while. It helped me regain my focus because I was using my right brain, the creative side, and giving my left brain, the analytical side, a rest. This is much better than, say, watching TV because it keeps your brain engaged in a different way so you’re ready to pick up where you left off!
Do Something Nice
Whenever I felt especially overwhelmed by my studies, I dropped everything I was doing and looked for someone that I could help. It could be someone redecorating their room, moving heavy items, fixing something, or even someone who’s also studying, too! Not only does helping others feel good, it completely takes your mind off your own studies for a while. When you get back to your work, you’ll realize you haven’t thought about it in a while (that’s the idea) and you’ll be able to approach it with a fresh mind.
Do Something Creative
Do you like to draw? Paint? Write stories? Do you have a fun hobby? Take some time away from your studies to pursue something fun and creative that will allow you to relieve stress! In my undergrad career, I loved playing video games as a study break (particularly fighting games) because I could shift my focus to a different short-term goal, which left me energized when I got back to my homework. Another great thing to try is to simply lie somewhere comfortable, listen to music, and just stare into space. Make a playlist of your most relaxing songs, find a good spot, and clear your mind. Just be careful not to fall asleep!
Get Active (Physically And Verbally)
My environment was one of the reasons why I found it hard to concentrate during a long study session. Basically, I shut myself away in a dimly lit room and surrounded myself with piles of papers, books, notes, and clutter for hours at a time. Set yourself free by going…
say it with me…
If you’re aiming to complete a two-hour study session, take a couple of short 15-minute breaks and go outside (if it’s daytime) or just go walking through your home. Speak to the people you live with, call your friends for a quick chat, talk to your friend’s dog if you have to. Just make sure you’re moving your body and interacting with other people. Studying is often solitary, but it doesn’t have to be lonely!
All of these things are going to take a while to adjust to as you learn what works best for you. Here’s the point: Work and rest go hand-in-hand. You can’t work constantly, despite other’s (and our own) expectations. You regain focus in times of rest. Take advantage of the many ways you can do that, and you’ll develop razor sharp focus in no time! For more helpful tips, homework help, and online tutoring, visit StudyGate.com!