Sunday, January 21, 2007


Well, whatddya know? Here's a really good story about education from the Washington Post:


It reminds me of the good work in the 1990s by education research Gerald Bracey, who debunked most of the sky-is-falling pontifications about our kids "falling behind" the Yellow Hordes and the Russkies and so forth. Bracey's work should have been more widely recirculated to rebut the stupid Japan-Germany redo of our schools through federal programming, Goals 2000, and its evil spawn, what we now call "No Child Left Behind."

If more people knew stuff like the fact that kids in Finland scored higher on vocabulary tests because their vocabulary system is so much simpler than English -- like, they have only one word for "red," while we have 20, or whatever -- they would have understood that it's easier to look better on paper there than here. Similarly, in Singapore and Japan, there is soooo much more pressure put on kids to excel in math and score well on those tests they take at the middle-school level, that determine your lifelong fate and so forth, there'd be a better perspective on why they might outscore us on tests, but not in real life, in terms of measuring productivity, GNP, inventions and so forth.

People would have relaxed a lot more about those international comparisons that made America's kids look bad and scared so many policymakers into nationalizing our schools.

Maybe if more reporters like this guy in the Post catch on, we can get out from under NCLB. Wouldn't that make the educrats' faces look scarlet . . . or crimson . . . or is it sanguine. . . .

ooh...these tests are so dumb. Another interesting point (I believe I first read in the Schools Matter blog) had to do with how many students in these supposedly superior nations would fail our proficiency standards. (More than in the US, ironically).

The education minister of Singapore (number one in the world in math) also made an interesting comment. They beat us on math tests, but lag far behind us in real world application. He said it is because we both have a meritocracy, but theirs is an exam meritocracy which does not necessarily equate with real life achievement.

We tend to challenge authority more as a culture, and he saw that as part of American success. Singapore is actually adopting some measures which look strangely like American practices...more open ended questions and trying to encourage more creativity.
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