Quality of European education vs. American education

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by PianoMan, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. PianoMan

    PianoMan Senior Member

    California, U.S.
    United States, English
    What do you think about the quality of European education over that of American education, especially on their emphasis of language learning?
     
  2. Bienvenidos

    Bienvenidos Senior Member

    USA
    Afghanistan/USA
    I'm sorry to say this--and it may be a little exaggerated--but any education is better than an American education. We don't look at things globally. We are falling behind. The top jobs are going out to foreigners because American's aren't prepared and they'd rather go out and party then sit down and learn Japanese. It's kind of ridiculous, and I hate to say it. I'm so upset with public schooling in the United States because there is absolutely no emphasis on language learning and also science. We need to do something. Not all students are motivated to help make the United States a global power because right now we're not. We may have a powerful military but we don't have a powerful workforce. Of course, I'm not scrutinizing every single American, this is just a general trend in American history. So let's hope our generation can overcome it, because we need to if we want to keep jobs here in the US.
     
  3. Shauneyzboyz

    Shauneyzboyz Senior Member

    Albany, NY
    English
    In the general scheme of things, American Education is actually very good. However, I feel that we fall behind globally. The general American mindset thinks inward, and I think that our education system does the same.

    Truth is, we offer good education, but not nearly as good as it could be or should be.
     
  4. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    It would be nice if you were to specify which aspects of education you are speaking about, other than emphasis on language learning. Europe is a big place, with hundreds of millions of residents. Are you looking for a generalized answer that groups all European education and assumes uniformity?

    It's obvious that most European educational systems require foreign language study, while most US school districts do not.
    Other than re-stating that well known fact, what would you like to discuss, the reasons, the effects, or both?
     
  5. ireney

    ireney Modistra

    U.S.A.
    Greek Greece
    a) I'm afraid that there's no such thing as "European" education. Different countries,different educational systems (and that's keeping it "vague").

    b) education is a HUGE issue. We're talking about textbooks, teachers, educational system, examination system, progress through i.e. high-school, qualification for entering in a Universtity, how easy it is to finish said University and guess what, that's keeping it "vague" :)
     
  6. John-Paul Senior Member

    Voorhees, NJ USA
    The Netherlands
    First off I would like to state that this is no contest because there is no single playing field. The American school system is the most important tool to create a unified nation. It's also the only publice arena where there is a very high level (still far from perfect) of equality when it comes to gender and race. European schools were not created to build citizenship. It's kind of silly when Bush says he wants to spread freedom by force, but I do support the way the schoolsystem is teaching the nation's children the importance of freedom and democracy. I'm not a big fan of the pledge and the antem every morning, but I like rigid separation of church and state. The problem here in the US is that schools are paid for by the local communities. Poor schooldistricts therefor have less graduates than the rich districts. But does that mean the system is bad? I don't know. The positive aspect is that as a tax payer you're really close to the decision making process. The negative is that there are people who refuse to pay more taxes in order to improve the school (better facilities, higher pay etc.). Another difference is that schools in the US are paying for special education. If a child has a disability the school has to be outfitted to help that child go to school. In our schooldistrict these costs go up to more than $100.000 per child per year (full time nurse, transport etc.). Most European countries have special schools for these 'special' children.
    Both sides have serious flaws, let's use this thread to find out what these flaws are and maybe do something about it.
     
  7. PianoMan

    PianoMan Senior Member

    California, U.S.
    United States, English
    I'm mostly just focusing on the general importance European societ has placed on education in comparison with that of how valued and encouraged it is in American society, consequently how good the school systems are because of the amount of emphasis. I'm not looking so much for an actual effect, moreso just the general opinion of the current situation and possibly what an individual can do to overcome the lack of opportinuty given by the American public school system.

    Thank you for your responses, and I'd have to agree with your opinions that we ARE falling behind globally. I was afraid when I originally started this thread that using the term "Europe" was too vague, what I specifically meant as prominent EU countries with good economies and stable infrastuctures: UK, France, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Belgium (just to name a few, there's plenty more) places like those who from what I've heard by many foreign students, contribute a lot more to education and more importantly the quality of it.
     
  8. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    I have no way of comparing the total education package of other countries as I only have 'in-depth' knowledge of the Irish education system. I've met people from other countries, but how can I judge how representative they are of the output of the systems through which they passed.

    My son went to the same secondary school I did - but with a difference of about 35 years.
    I don't believe the school has lowered or raised its standards in the meantime - changes are due to the national curriculum being radically modified.
    He can speak well, but his written English is dreadful.
    His mathematical skills are better than mine, but that woudln't have been difficult, all my siblings were poor at maths.
    His language skills are not good - six years of French have left him with what I would term not-even-schoolboy levels.
    History and Geography are probably on a par with my awareness at his age, but with a different focus, as times have changed.

    Overall he is much more internationally aware than I was, but then Ireland is a much more internationally aware country than it was in my day. There comes a point when it is difficult to determine what is down to the system and what is down to media consumption.

    What did strike me was that one of his college tutors told the class that they would lose 0.5% for each spelliing and grammatical error on a recent major project they had to do in teams. I emphasise the team thing because two or three heads are meant to be better than one, and should be less prone to error. She later informed the class that she had been forced to revise the penalty to 0.1% - or several groups would have had no marks at all.
    That I find stunning. These guys are in their third year of college. a combined 13 or 14 years' worth of education and they cannot write their own language well enough to meet a college tutor's requirements. They are not studying English - and I don't imagine she was being particularly stringent. This is a "Business" course they're on.
     
  9. roxcyn

    roxcyn Senior Member

    USA
    American English [AmE]
    Cultures are very different. For example, in the European Union, each country has their own language---there are many many countries. Language becomes important so that everyone can communicate. English is the current "lingua franca" so many people choose to study that, and many other languages. In the USA, each state does not speak a different language---there is a common language. Students do not like to learn a language because they may not be interested. The classes focus on many grammar points-----not how to talk the language. It really depends on the individuals experience at a school. Someone would think that "They will speak English to me because they studied it in school."
     
  10. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA
    I don't know too much about European education, but I have to say that United States education is in horrible condition, especially since the "no child left behind" program went insane. I know a young child that really should have been left back and instead of doing what's right for the child they pushed the child on to the next grade.

    Let's ignore that. Every time I go into a store, be it the super market or Yankee Candle, the cashier cannot add up the change without the adding machine. It really disturbs and sickens me.
     
  11. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    I heard somewhere that the Irish education system is apparently the best in the world, at least the private schools are supposed to be. I think that's why so many Spaniards, Germans etc. come here to learn (and because it's cheaper :))
     
  12. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Your question is very specific, and I'm afraid I don't know enough about American language education (or European language education as a whole) to answer, but I wanted to say one thing. You should probably nuance the situation in Europe. For instance, I've read more than once here in the forum British people complaining that they hardly learned anything in their foreign language classes. It might be more an English-speaking vs. non-English-speaking thing, than an American vs. European thing.
     
  13. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod Chicken

    Arizona
    American English
  14. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    Provence
    français
    Well, I don't know about every school system in Europe, but in France schools have been created so as to support republican ideas and build French citizenship. French children in the early 20th century have been taught not to use local dialects, how good it was to have gotten rid of kings and how nasty were the Germans.

    Today things are different, but schools in France still have the mission to make you be a nice citizen.

    Well, it is a bit off-topic, but I have no opinion about the school system in the US. I think it will be hasardous to make any generalisation on scool systems in Europe.
     
  15. Vladislav Senior Member

    Barcelona, Spain
    Russian,Spanish
    I think there are few thing worse that the education in ... I don't know the rest of Europe but in Spain for sure. And it is getting even worse because of a great number of illiterate immigrants that are arriving en masse during the last decade.

    There are three main problems:

    1. Bad environment: the parents are not giving a good example and the friends neither. The pupils don't have any motivation.

    2. No real measures or panalties can be undertaken.
    If a student fails all his exams he will be X severely. X in Spain (Europe?) means NOTHING.
    At the most his parents would say "Dear sun, you could have passed at least one of them :D. And the "dear sun" would reply "Yea, daddy, during the course I'll try ... probably I'll pass Physical Education" :cool:
    Neither teachers, nor parents can do anything. And, besides, the parents, mostly are unwilling to do someting.

    Result: the students don't care not passing.

    3. Very bad system in general.
    - The students are passing the courses with the well-known in Spain "law of minimun effort", that is: doing nothing. And it seems to be that there's no other option in a system where EVERYBODY has to finish a secondary comlulsory education.

    And what if he doesn't pass his exams? He'll stay for another year in the same course. But this situations can not last forever and therefore the teachers try to get rid of such students as fast as they can. --> they also pass the course failing the most part of the subjects. --> everybody understands: whatever thet do, they'll pass for sure.

    - No difference made, between good and bad students.

    And what is even worse: those who want more are seen as a fool. "What/who/why are you studing for?" they ask him.

    And then comes the envy of the class. I was a very good student, it's a matter of fact. But I was one of the most hated as well. :(


    NOTIHNG WORSE THAN THE SPANISH EDUCATION! :thumbsdown: :mad: :mad: :mad:
    And for sure, probably not all, but part of the characteristics of the Spanish education are common in the rest of Europe.
     
  16. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    I don't quite understand the question.
    How can one compare American and European education? Europe is really huge, even without Russia. America is big, too. And to have the right to compare, you need to know both systems. How many of us can boast that they have studied both in America and Europe?
    And I can say about the Russian education almost the same as Vladislav's said about the Spanish one. Even at Moscow University (the best in Russia, they say) you can receive your diploma without much effort.
     
  17. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA

    See, with what you just said about Moscow University, I have atheory about that. We have basically the same thing at Harvard and Yale. My theory is yes, you do have to work very hard to get there and what have you, but once you are in there you are pretty much set because those are places of prestige, and they don't want to have to admit to failing anyone. Have you ever noticed that you always here of their great report and over all GPA? Did you ever hear of anyone failing there?
     
  18. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
    This is kind of a messed-up question:

    First, of all, I'd say throughout the United States and Europe, class matters. The non-elite students I taught English to in Sicily were terribly educated -- in their own language, in foreign affairs, in history, you name it. The educational system there was failing them at least as badly as the American educational system fails its most disadvantaged students.

    In the United States, you can get a very high quality public high school education, including advanced language education, 2nd year calculus, advanced physics and chemistry-- in a lot of places. I did. I know plenty of kids who are getting the same today -- kids with aggressive, educated parents who seek out the best for their children.

    Here in NYC you can attend arguably the best public high school in the nation (Stuyvesant) or some of the worst, where not getting beat up will be the prime priority. Class will have some to do with where you end up, your parents' attitude (which is not separable from class) will be probably the largest factor.

    I suspect this is true in much of Europe as well. I have certainly met exceedingly well educated French and Italian people, but the schools in my area of Sicily were not producing them. Similarly, my French friends are incredibly literate and their educational backgrounds are enviable -- but I doubt that the kids in the banlieue are getting the same education.

    So, to compare a nation to a continent, or even a nation to a nation is a bit odd. Are we asking what education the best educated students get? The worst? The degree of equality attained accross the system?

    Second, to compare the U.S. to Europe is, in the views of many, to compare irrelevant to irrelevanter. I listened to an NPR piece this morning on the recent report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. The report was all about educational reform. Guess what, no one mentioned Europe and no one mentioned language learning. It was all about the highly skilled workers coming out of India and China. Surprise! I would surmise that both Europe and America are scratching their heads when it comes to technical and science education.
     
  19. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
    Well, actually, that's completely untrue. There is grade inflation at Harvard and Yale, as there is at most American universities, but having attended Yale and now having many friends on the faculty, I can say with confidence that you will work very hard to do well, and that most people do, because they wouldn't have gotten in if they weren't that kind of person.

    The education offered is exceptional in almost every field, and the professors are among the best in the world. I have the privilege of interviewing students for Yale, and I am constantly amazed at the talented kids that are going there.

    Moreover, people do fail. I know a few people who didn't make it through, and others who took 6 years to do so.

    That's the point I was making above. The educational spectrum in the United States ranges from the very best to the very worst, and I would suspect most European countries can say the same.
     
  20. Vladislav Senior Member

    Barcelona, Spain
    Russian,Spanish
    I don't know much about the Russian universities, but I've finished the primary and the compulsory school in Moscow. YOU EVEN CAN'T COMPARE the environment, the attitude, the requirements, etc in the compulsory school in Moscow and in Barcelona.

    As for the primary, in Spain (my sister has been there) ... :mad: I'd better not make any comments on that because I don't want the administrator to errase my post because of excess of swearwords... :)

    If your father is a Gazprom's director you could receive your diploma without even going to the university ... :D

    (just a joke, as I said before, I don't know much about universities in Russia)


    Probably it's similar in America, but then you find the American universities among the best of the world. And the Nobel prices, main discoveries made be Americans.
    What about Europe, that a time ago was the center of the world's science? At the most something is made in Germany, UK, Russia but a few compared to USA.

    Europe clearly is loosing its scientific potential is loosing its human capital superiority. For me, this is the main saurce of the economic problems en Europe.
     
  21. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    So do I.
    Those students who don't work are excluded, of course. It happens, though not so often (at least, at the Faculty of Philology). I don't know much about the situation on other faculties.
    The point is that it's really difficult to enter a good university, and only the best students can do it. But why so many of them don't want to work as hard after they become students of university? I don't know.

    I must also admit that if I were a director of a company or a school, I wouldn't hire anyone simply because they have a diploma of a prestigious university, even if they have a diploma cum laude. Exam marks aren't enough.
    When I was interviewed for my work, I wasn't asked a single quesion about my exam marks. I was just talking with the director in English for about an hour and a half, and she decided that she could as well give the job to me.
     
  22. Vladislav Senior Member

    Barcelona, Spain
    Russian,Spanish
    :eek:
     
  23. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    It doesn't make much sense to me, you know. Could you express yourself more clearly, please?
     
  24. Vladislav Senior Member

    Barcelona, Spain
    Russian,Spanish
    Jeje, sorry. I meant to say:

    Oh my God! How is it possible! What an embarassment!
     
  25. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA
    Then I apologize, tip my hat and stroll away.....
     
  26. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    Illiterate, or unable to converse in Spanish?
    There's a big difference.
    Here in Ireland we have a rapidly-growing immigrant population. Many cannot speak or write English, but they are far from illiterate.

    But that is how it should be, surely.
    I imagine that when you applied you detailed your academic achievements in either your CV/resumé or in their application form which you would have filled in.
    The purpose of an interview is not to see if you are qualified for a job, it is to see if you are suitable for it, or if you have the kind of motivation or the kind of thinking which the company sees as necessary - alongside any qualifications they require.
    Having a qualification - now or fifty years ago - is not the same as having 'what it takes' for any position. We have, probably, all met people who are qualified for the job they do but cannot do it well.

    ;) And always remember —> half the doctors, lawyers and other professionally qualified people in the world finished in the bottom half of their class!
     
  27. Vladislav Senior Member

    Barcelona, Spain
    Russian,Spanish
    ILLITARATE!!!

    That's the problem. If only they were unable to speak Spanish! The fact is that most part of them come from Latin America. Do you think they can't speak Spanish?

    The problem is that in class, where there're 50% of immigrants is IMPOSSIBLE to get along with the normal programm.
    When I was in the compulsory school in my class there was ONLY ONE IMMIGRANT (apart of me), a boy from Colombia.

    Well, I will not speak too much about his pronunciation (whenever he was asked to answer some question, 3 was the minimum amount of times he had to repeat what he has said so that the teacher could catch anything).

    But his knowledge of the subjects seemed to be null. He was failing almost all his exams. Of course he gave up our school in a year and shifted to an easier one.

    Of course it was more difficult to have normal classes with ONLY 1 IMMIGRANT.

    But, can you imagine a class where 50% are immigrants. Do you think that the bad students will follow the good ones or vice versa?

    Answer checked with the reality: VICE VERSA.


    I think a university degree isn't enough for this purpose altough it depends on the posotion and the company.

    Look one of my previous posts:

    Quote:
    Even at Moscow University (the best in Russia, they say) you can receive your diploma without much effort.
    Each joke is only partially a joke.
     
  28. Hocuspocus

    Hocuspocus Junior Member

    Ottignies, Belgium
    Français Belgique
    Here is my experience: every friend of mine who's coming back from the Usa where they have spent one year for a second senior year or to o to university tells me "That was so easy, you can't imagine, we learnt those things years ago". The level seems quite different.
     
  29. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Have we established that gross generalizations about education in areas as large as Europe and the US are not good sources of insight?
     
  30. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    USA/English
    That's funny -- that's exactly the way that all my friends felt about their years abroad at European universities, and the way I felt about my Master's program at University of Edinburgh. It seemed like child's play, after Yale.

    Do you think that the answer is just that people don't study very hard or maybe take easier courses or something during exchange years?
     
  31. Vladislav Senior Member

    Barcelona, Spain
    Russian,Spanish
    Uff, probably as some people said, what matters most is that there is a huge educational spectrum in both USA and Europe, territorial and social.

    Maybe we should simply compare the human capital in both regions? At the end a county needs to educate its citizens in order to have a skilled labor force.
     
  32. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    Not yet ;)
    So far we've only dealt with the generalisations - nobody has been really gross yet! (Give it time!)
     
  33. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Ambiguity is well taught on both sides of the puddle.
    144 generalities about education give as little insight as any single generality.

    And then there is the Irish lesson:





    Drum roll announces the entry of Maxiogee into the hall........
     
  34. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    The best source of comparative data between the U.S. and other countries seems to be the PISA test results, which measure skills in math, science, problem solving, and reading. You can access results from the 2003 tests here.

    > In math, students in the U.S. fall behind those of most European countries, as well as the OECD average. The mean U.S. math score is about 475, while Spain is just slightly above the U.S., Germany and England rank around 500, France around 520, and the Flemish-speaking population of Belgium ranks the highest, at 550 or so. European countries ranking under the U.S. are Russia, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Serbia (in order from lowest to greatest discrepancy). Brazil earned the lowest mean PISA score, about 360.

    > The U.S. did a little bit better in the reading section, beating the OECD average by one point with an average score of 495. Denmark, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Hungary, and Spain ranked slightly below the U.S. Serbia again had the lowest European average score, 412. A number of Euro countries were higher than the U.S. as well - Poland, Switzerland, Norway, Belgium, the U.K., and Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden, scored within 20 points above the U.S. The highest score went to Fininsh-speaking Finland with a mean of 544.31. One interesting observation: the Bolzano province in Italy (in the Alps, near Austria if I remember correctly) was a top scorer with an average score of 544.12, just under Finland, while nearly 60 points above the Italian average of 475.66. Top-scoring (95th percentile) students in the U.S. did better than their counterparts in some of the countries whose mean exceeded the US.

    The lowest mean scorer for reading was Tunisia, with 374.6; Mexico had 399.7.

    > The U.S. (491.3) ranked slightly below the OECD average of 499.6 on the science test. Iceland, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, France, Switzerland, the U.K., Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Finland (Finnish-speaking part 549.7) exceeded the U.S.; Austria, Russia, Latvia, Spain, Italy, Norway, Greece, Denmark, Portugal, and Serbia (436.4) lagged behind the U.S. mean score, in that order. Italy's overall score of 486.5 is about 80 points under the score received by the Trento province. The lowest mean scorer on the science test was Tunisia, with 384.7.

    > On the problem solving test, the U.S. ranked near the bottom of the batch, with an average score of 477.34. The OECD average was 499.99. The only European countries to fall below the U.S. average were Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Serbia, in that order. Tunisia took the worldwide low score of 344.74, while Korea had 550.43.

    So, judging solely from these results (not necessarily a smart idea), one could conclude that many European countries have better pre-university education systems in the U.S. However, it seems that most of the world's top-ranking universities are within the country.
     
  35. Hocuspocus

    Hocuspocus Junior Member

    Ottignies, Belgium
    Français Belgique
    I'd rather think that my friends didn't have the opportunity to go to Yale. It depends on the university in the USA, doesn't it? Most of them went to little universtities... And I don't know anything about Edimburgh university. But I think we've got good-ranking universities in Belgium(look at tvdxer thread). Anyway, it's so difficult to compare...
     
  36. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Irvine, California
    AmEnglish/German
    Isn't it funny that as you read through a thread like this, if you go from year A to year B, the education systems will undoubtedly get worse?

    How many times I've read the exact words:

    "In my day, they made us work, but the schools these days are producing people who will let the whole country fall into the can."

    Yeh, are they? Want to know a little secret? Without the internet, I would only be half as knowledgeable as I am. For me at least it has much less to do with the education system than it has to do with my parents. But either way, I go to a fantastically difficult university, so...
     
  37. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod Chicken

    Arizona
    American English
    You contradict yourself, dxer. "Don't use these results alone, but they're the best way to judge." I haven't looked at this PISA test, but I imagine that it's a multiple choice deal. We continue to rely on these kind of standardized, multiple-choice tests because they are the easy way out: they give a set of numbers that we can compare to other sets of numbers. They don't measure kids in the way that they should be measured -- by what they have learned and can do, not by how well they take multiple-guess tests.
     
  38. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA
    You mentioned the internet. It is a fantastic tool. I'm grateful for it because if not for its capability I would have not been able to be on this forum with you wonderful people. However, the internet, just like everything else in life, is what you make of it [i.e. Encyclopedia.com vs. (enter porn name here).com].

    When someone says "In my day, they made us work, but the schools these days are producing people who will let the whole country fall into the can" they are refering to things like children are required to posess a calculator when they are in forsst grade. They don't teach math or science or anything like that the way that they used to. I was in what I think was the begining of the end. For example, most high schools (or so you would think) require that you take two or three years of science. Don't ask me how, but I graduated high school only taking one year of biology. The same goes with math. I only took two years instead of the required four.

    I'm not sure what everyone else means when they say that sentence, but what is what I mean when I say it. I can't imagine any other country being sad enough to make the same mistakes that this country is.

    By the way, Fenix, I full-heartedly agree with you!!!
     
  39. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    I see nothing intrinsically wrong with aqllowing pupils to use a calculator in a test (provided they know from their elementary Maths lessons how to calculate 'properly') because that's how they will be asked to cope in the real world - with a calculator.

    I have never understood the learning-measurement principle be3hind the multiple-choce question.
    Ask someone to describe in one sentence what major event happened in xyzland in 19?? and they either know or they don't. Ask them to pick one from the following four events and by sheer probability a quarter of them should get it right, even if they didn't take the course.
     
  40. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA
    I feel there is some concern that should be raised as far as the calculator is concerned because 1. They don't know the basics. 2. They are not being trained to use their head in any way at all. Haven't you gone to the store before and the person behind the register did not know how to make change in the least?There really are not that many people in the United States that can do basic math (PEMDAS) in their head.

    The problem that I have the most about thestandardized testing is probably because they only test you on math and language arts (that's in America, at least. What are they like elsewhere?). They don't test on anything else, and there are some things that are important that they can't test you on (like your line of thinking).
     
  41. djchak Senior Member

    Chicago
    USA English
    Here's a great article everyone should check out...pertaining to the cultural differences in learning between different countries...

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10663340/site/newsweek/

    QUOTE: "We both have meritocracies," Shanmugaratnam said. "Yours is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy. There are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well—like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition."
     
  42. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod Chicken

    Arizona
    American English
    More about PISA:
    Rather than just make assumptions, I dug a little and found that the PISA test is about half multiple-choice and half short-answer.

    Although I commend PISA for not being exclusively MC, it's very, very hard to develop a pencil-and-paper test that is worth two beans. Even if PISA were the best of it's kind, it's still a flawed model of assessing educational outcomes. To paraphrase King: The true measure of a society should be in the development of its people, not in the size of its test scores.
     
  43. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    Yes, we can all make the left-brained complaint, "oh, numbers don't measure my child!". Of course they don't - not perfectly. But they do have something to say. Do you not think children who are better at math will tend to receive higher scores than those who are worse, and children who are better at problem solving will answer more questions correctly than those who aren't so good?

    The PISA test is hardly a perfect measure, but it's probably one of the best out there. I don't know of any measurement of the "development of people". Tests aren't perfect, but there aren't many alternatives: why do universities rely on ACT and SAT scores for admission?
     
  44. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I have to agree with Tvdxer.

    But the goal of a school system is not to develop people, or to insure their success (that's up to them and their parents). The goal of schooling is to provide the pupils with knowledge and skills they may need in their professional lives.
     
  45. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    Yes, of course I have, and so has everybody - but there were shop assistants like that when I was young. They weren't some sort of halcyon days of mathematical ability I was raised in. (I'll let you into a secret, there were days in my retailing days when I was calculationally-challenged ;) - and that waqsw after we dropped the 12 pennies to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound structure to our currency and dealt in 100 pence to a pound! We all have off days, but the customer who meets us on one of those days sees a snapshot that they think is our eternal self - illiterate and innumerate.

    The point is that these kids don't need to be able to calculate change - the cash register is programmed to do that for them. We are judging them by the standards of our time, a time when the register couldn't do that.
     
  46. Reina140

    Reina140 Senior Member

    USA--English
    I think this is too difficult a question for this forum. As someone said earlier, you would have to take into account, the books, the tests, the teachers, the facilities, the students and the parents . .. . and that's being vague. Society as a whole, is responsible for the future of education. I'm 28, and I feel as though my generation was around the last before the "Technology" came and changed everything. The internet just became popular when I was in high school, but I didn't use it because I thought it was a place for old men to meet young girls (lolol). In my opinion, this starts much earlier. When I was a child, I was forced to have an imagination and GO OUTSIDE to play. These days parents are afraid to let their kids run outside out of view. I think an imagination early on changes the way children learn. (maybe I'm crazy) . . . But I don't consider this a question of European vs. American vs. . . ???? . . . I think this is global. It seems that the elite become more elite and the lazy become more lazy. (Kinda like the Rich stay Rich and the Poor stay Poor . . . . Can you afford a good education) And to clarify that statement, I would like to say, that if some Universities are passing students easily, then, the students who become teachers, have learned from this example. It is a vicious cycle.
     
  47. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    The original poster also asked about language education. I am pretty certain that European countries, on average, excel in this category. I read that something like 50% of EU residents can speak a second language fluently, while this is the case for only about 10% of Americans. However, there are vast inter-country differences - most Britons and Italians are monolingual while the Scandinavians and Dutch are known for their excellent, native-like command of English, and the Swiss often master four languages (or so I hear).

    There might be the issue of motivation here however. When you speak what is currently the world's primary language of global communication, and are surrounded by it for hundreds or even a thousand miles in all directions, you are less motivated to learn other languages, with the possible exception of Spanish. Continental Europeans, on the other hand, have several language zones within a relatively short distance. Within a 250 mile radius of Amsterdam, there's German, Danish, Dutch, English, and French. Where the slightest change in accent occurs in the United States, an entire language change occurs in Europe.
     
  48. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod Chicken

    Arizona
    American English
    You two are describing the current model. Ideas of "efficiency" and "a classical education" are as old as Plato and Dewey, and should be just as defunct. The traditional model served our society well enough during the industrial age, but hasn't changed significantly to adapt to post-industrial reality. The SAT and PISA may be valid measures of children's retention of information... but they should not be considered valuable because they are not helping our education system to evolve.
     
  49. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    And it's an unbalanced comparison, even in linguistic terms. Many Europeans speak at least two languages -- O.K., but very often the second language will be English, which is a very special case. Naturally, those for whom English is already their native language have less incentive to learn other languages.

    I disagree. I think those who oppose the classical paradigm of education have made impressive strides in the latest decades, and been very successful in imposing their own modern ideas on public schools. Hence the low scores, IMO.
     
  50. Poetic Device

    Poetic Device Senior Member

    New Jersey
    English, USA
    I'm curious to know, In countries aside from the U.S.A., do the teachers dedicate at least half of the school year to just teaching what will be on those tests? I know that a good amount of the schools in NJ soley teach that.
     

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