5 Reasons Why Finland Has The Best Education System

Why Finland has the best education studygate

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.

So why does Finland have the best educational system on earth (or maybe Singapore too)?

Here are the 5 reasons that set Finland apart:

Reason number 1: No child gets left behind

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.

Content courtesy of The Young Turks

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Why Singapore Education Is Better And What the United States Can Learn From It

why education in singapore is better studygate

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!

Real-world education

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.

Originally posted in AFTHQ.

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Elon Musk on Education: “I Don’t Give a Damn About Your Degree”

Elon Musk On Education Harvard Degree

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk on education has some uncommon opinions. He is the founder of Tesla and SpaceX. Musk holds American, Canadian, and South African citizenship. He lives in Los Angeles, and he doesn’t give a damn about your degree.

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Q: Elon, do I need a degree?

A: There’s no need even to have a college degree at all or even a high school diploma. If somebody graduated from a great university then maybe that’s an indication that they will be capable of great things but it’s not necessarily the case.

Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and Steve Jobs didn’t graduate from college but if you had a chance to hire them that would be a great idea.

The key is to look for evidence of exceptional ability. If there’s a track record of achievement then it’s likely that that will continue into the future.

Q: Elon, how would you describe yourself?

A: I have a high innate drive and that’s been true even since I was a little kid. Back then, I did all sorts of risky things that I now realize were actually crazy. I care a lot about the truth of things and trying to understand why those things are true. If you’re going to come up with some solution, then it’s really really important that you know the truth and can anticipate that.

Sometimes I see things that seem quite clear and obvious to me, and I don’t understand why they aren’t so obvious to everyone.

Q: Elon, how do you educate your five boys?

A: I created Ad Astra which means “to the stars.” It’s different from most schools since there aren’t any grades at all. I’m making all the children go in the same subjects at the same time like an assembly line. This is because some people love English or languages, some people love math, and some people love music. It’s important to develop different abilities at different times and cater the education to match individual aptitudes and abilities within each subject.

I think it’s also important to teach problem solving or teach to the problem and not to the tools. So let’s say you are trying to teach people how engines work. You could start by the more traditional approach to teach all about screwdrivers and wrenches and even have a course on screwdrivers and wrenches.

But this is a very difficult way to do it. A much better way would be to show the engine and say “Let’s take it apart. How are we going to take it apart? Oh, you need a screwdriver. That’s what the screwdriver is for.” Then a very important thing happens. The relevance of the tools becomes apparent.

The regular schools just don’t do the things that I think should be done like the principles of focusing on one subject at a time and teaching directly to the problem. I actually hired a teacher from the school they were at who also agreed with me that there was a better way to do it.

The kids really love going to school, and I think that’s a good sign. I hated going to school when I was a kid. It was torture! So the fact that they actually think vacations are too long and they want to go back to school is a great sign.

Q: Elon, what do you have in common with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Larry Ellison?

A: Those are pretty different personalities between Gates and Jobs and Ellison! All three of those were technologists but with different types of skills. Jobs was obviously very focused on aesthetics to integrate with the technology. He really answered the question of what people wanted even when they didn’t know themselves. Jobs was obviously not afraid to break boundaries.

Gates would probably be better at raw engineering and technology than Jobs, but not as good on aesthetics.

All of these guys were obviously very driven and they’re very talented and they’re able to attract great people to build a company.

The ability to attract and motivate great people is critical to the success of a company because the company is just that. It’s a group of people that are assembled to create a product or service. We all so often forget this elementary truth. So if you’re able to get great people to join the company and work together towards a common goal and you have a relentless sense of perfection about that goal, then you will end up with a great product.

If you have a great product, people will buy it and then you know you’ll be successful. It’s pretty straightforward.

Q: Elon, are you fearless?

A: I wouldn’t say I’m fearless. I feel fear quite strongly. If what we’re doing is something I think is important enough, then I just override the fear. But it’s not as if I don’t feel fear. I feel it stronger than I would like.

If the stakes are high and it’s really important, then I should overcome the fear and just do it anyway. It’s kind of annoying, I wish I felt it less.

Q: Elon, which venture that you founded would you say was the most risky at the start?

A: SpaceX. I thought it had the lowest chance of success. I thought both Tesla and SpaceX would fail at the beginning. What I thought was, “well, I’ll take half the money from PayPal and if I lose half of it that’s okay.” But then of course the companies encounter difficulties and then you have a choice.

1. Let the company die

2. Put all the money into the company

 

I really didn’t want the companies to die, so I put all the money into the company. Then I had to borrow money from friends to pay living expenses.

Q: Elon, what was your best idea ever?

A: Coming to North America was my best idea. I think these things would not have been accomplished anyway you know anywhere else. It’s really hard to start a company, but California and Silicon Valley is very conducive to startup companies. Whenever I read books in South Africa, it would seem like the cutting edge of technology was in Silicon Valley. So that’s where I wanted to come to move to this mythical place.

Q: Elon, are there things you regret having done or not having done so far?

A: There’s lots of things, but life is short. There’s lots of things that could be done that one can’t necessarily do. Overall, I think I’m pretty happy with where things are, it’s hard not to be. Things are in a good place right now.

I’d like to see humanity go beyond Earth and have people on Mars. That would be really great. I’d like to see widespread adoption of electric vehicles and renewable energy. These are great things and I think they would be really cool.


Watch the original interview here. Getting a job is hard. Here are some ways to decide if you should get a normal job or start the next SpaceX

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Study groups are disappearing: Here‘s 4 reasons why

Reasons to create study groups are getting less common. The biggest reason for this is that social engagement patterns have changed for iGen.

I’ve been on my phone more than I’ve been with actual people. My bed has, like, an imprint of my body. — 13-year-old Athena of Houston, TX

In September 2017 Jean M. Twenge wrote a great article about how 20-somethings and teenagers use their smartphone to live their social lives. Instead of roller skating rinks, parks, and basketball courts, youth spend the majority of youth spend their free time at home with the phone.

This stay-home-all-the-time tendency will kill the classic concept of the study group. And maybe it should. If you’re on your phone all the time, it is harder to get into trouble in the first place. Students don’t have time for car accidents, getting plastered at a party, and having sex before 18.

This trend affects learning too. I find four reasons why study groups will also change

  1. Snapchat. Snapchat replaces text communication with instantaneous videos and photos that disappear within 24 hours of viewing (at the most). This is the medium of the future. With 188 million daily active users, Snapchat represents a tier-1 form of communication for young people ages 14–24. iGen would often prefer to communicate via Snapchat over actually meeting.
  2. Academic integrity. Participation in class lectures matters, but students are constantly told NOT to seek outside assistance for what could considered cheating on their homework. This creates a culture where students are expected to discretely figure out homework on their own instead of directly collaborate.
  3. Sage on the stage. I first heard Eric Mazur at Harvard talk about this by contrasting the sage on the stage with the guide on the side. But student-driven learning is still more often an exception rather than the norm. As a result, the professor is the go-to source for wisdom and insight, and s/he connects using Snapchat. Studying together with your friends might be helpful, but what’s the point of a study group if the professor still has the answers?
  4. Independence. Since students are always on their phones, they don’t get a driver’s license as early. So there is little motivation to drive and meet up. Also, since more parents are both working, work schedules make it harder to coordinate with other parents with jobs. More people use free time viewing screens anyway.

For students who want to engage with their classmates, there are still some options for learning in a real-time online environment. StudyGate offers free study groups for classmates to remotely prepare for lectures and exams. With this kind of learning tool available online, there remains little reason to leave the bed or the house.

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