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Education Lessons From Top-Ranked Finland And South Korea

Finland and South Korea top the charts in a new global education ranking. But with very different philosophies. We’re looking at what the US – ranked number 17 – can learn.

Yaeum Middle School (Flickr/Stephen Hucker)

Yaeum Middle School (Flickr/Stephen Hucker)

Countries number one and two in the world in the latest global ranking of student academic performance:  Finland and South Korea.  The U.S. ranked number seventeen, down with Hungary and Slovakia.

We know we can do better, but the interesting thing about the top-ranking two is how very differently they achieve success.

South Korea, super-intense.  School all the time.  Finland, strikingly laid back.  Teachers called by their first names.  And yet they both pin the needle on outcomes.

This hour, On Point:  two different paths to the very top in education, and what the U.S. can learn.

-Tom Ashbrook


Pasi Sahlberg, director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland. Author of “Finnish Lessons: What Can The World Learn From Educational Change in Finland?” (@pasi_sahlberg)

Okhwa Lee, professor of computer education at Chungbuk National University in South Korea. She participated in the South Korean presidential committee, “Educational Innovation: Vision 2030.”

Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, which studies what the U.S. can learn from international models.

From Tom’s Reading List

Pasi Sahlberg “As the United States is looking to reform its public school system, education experts have increasingly looked at other countries for examples on what works and what won’t. The current administration has turned its attention strong performing foreign school systems. As a consequence, recent education summits hosted in the United States have given room to international education showcases.”

The Huffington Post “The study notes that while funding is an important factor in strong education systems, cultures supportive of learning is even more critical — as evidenced by the highly ranked Asian countries, where education is highly valued and parents have grand expectation. While Finland and South Korea differ greatly in methods of teaching and learning, they hold the top spots because of a shared social belief in the importance of education and its ‘underlying moral purpose.’”

The Atlantic “Here’s what everybody knows about education in the United States. It’s broken. It’s failing our poorest students and codding the richest. Americans are falling desperately behind the rest of the developed world. But here’s what a new study from the Economic Policy Institute tells us about America’s education system: Every one of those common assumptions is simplistic, misguided, or downright wrong.”

Film: “The Finland Phenomenon”



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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    I would like to know what, if any, techniques are used by the two countries mentioned in your lead-in, in dealing with the extreme ends of the spectrum of students ? Also, are these, or other countries, striving to create “genius” in “average” adults ? If not, why not ?

    P.S. I hope that you can provide a web link, or something similar, that will speak in depth to these questions.

    P.S.S As a young man, I started out to become a double E major, ( EE, electrical engineering), I can remember a professor telling my “circuits” class; “If your not going for a PhD., don’t bother.” ! Can you imagine, a Prof. saying something like this ! At that time, I could not find anyone interested in helping me, either ! Now the US claims it has to go outside the US to find talent; BULL ! In fact, it has been my personal experience that the average company is not the least bit interested in having someone who is interested in learning, working for them. Most bosses find such people very threatening. But do not to cry for me ! I still hope to start my own business someday.
    I am giving notice; I will take no prisoners !

    • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

      My daughter teaches in a private school in South Korea. First, they have universal healthcare. Second, families value education.  Parents of school age children often spend 25 percent of their income on additional education.  They know their future is tied to the productivity of their children.  

      Granted, we are comparing nations at different phases of an economic cycle, I have never seen an economic forecast that factors in the average age of population into their model.  You should watch the PBS show on the development of silicon valley. Young healthy adults will compete and collaborate with each other to build a productive society.  We need a path to citizenship for all US workers to level playing field and single payer healthcare.  These will allow us to invest in education of our children.  Most of the kids my daughter teaches will go to public school and their parents will continue to spend about 35 dollars per hour on 20 additional hours of English education per month all the way though high school.
      They want native speakers to teach their children English and they start at an early age. We are not currently making this kind of investment in US children at any class level.

      Looking for a new career, I am interested in agricultural robotics, I think it is the productivity of the future. 


      • stephenreal

        Korea is also known for their habitual habit of stealing intellectual property to boost their economy.

        • sam

          “habitual habit”???

          And then we wonder WHAT IS wrong with our education system!?


          • stephenreal

            you got me! cheers

      • http://twitter.com/HBPolymath Tiffoknee

        I also teach in Korea.  And while it’s easy to over-romanticize Koreans’ ‘love of education’, it’s often more akin to a love of education for the sake of acquiring stuff.  These students aren’t taught to value education for its own sake.  They’re taught that an education is THE only means by which to acquire a job at the chaebol corporations which will translate into lots of money, which in turn will translate into a big house, fancy car, etc.  Many of these students RESENT being forced to learn a language they have no intention of using.  This is to say nothing of the frighteningly high suicide rate in this country.  These kids are under so much pressure.  And it’s not always good for them. 

  • Jasoturner

    What we can learn!?  This is the United States of America!  We have the best (healthcare, education system, military, capitalist system, freedom, etc.) in the world.  This shall not be questioned.  And the rest of the world has no best practices we would care to emulate.

    Thank you and god bless America!

    • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

      We might start with trying to understnad why, in the United States, we rank 38Th in life expectancy in the world. Cuba, an impoverished country, is ahead of us, asd is Costa Rica. Then we can talk about the alarming teen suidide rate… on and on. I am glad that your life is comfotable and fulfilling, but many others are not in that position. There should always be room for introspection.

      • sam

         RE: There should always be room for introspection.

        Not for some people, unfortunately. :)

      • InActionMan

         I think there was a large dose of sarcasm in Jasoturner’s post.

      • sickofthechit

         I believe Cuba and Costa Rica have Universal Healthcare.  Enough said.

    • Dosojosverdes

      You can swallow this old rhetoric hook, line and sinker, or you can take notice of the real situation that the USA finds itself in today and then demand that our leaders and politicians take action!

      On average; less than 50% of students, enrolled at state universities, in the USA today will finish a degree in 4-6 years (FACT). Goodness only knows what happens to the other 50%! After all the money spent on these students in their K-12 years in grade school; the entire voting population of the USA should be asking serious questions about what is WRONG with our education system. We spend a fortune, of tax payer’s money, on education, whilst kids and teachers put in years in the classroom and the results are, today, poor at best. The USA ranks 17th in the world on this issue.

      Talk to educators at the college level of our system and many will complain that a large percentage of students arrive unprepared for this level of learning. Many American students cannot spell, use grammar, do adequate research, think for themselves or express themselves coherently in writing. Sadly, and very troubling for our technological future, Math and Science are as familiar to them as Mandarin. Just read posts by younger contributors on this type of forum and the truth is as clear as the nose on your face!

      We will not be able to realistically compete in the global economy by throwing good money after bad and pretending that we still have an educational system worth crowing about. We must look around and learn from those countries with better results and then adopt and adapt the successful methods to work in the USA. This goes beyond the classroom and right into our living rooms at home. It will not come for free and requires a significant investment of funds and a long-term strategy aimed at improving the education to be received by future generations.

      God help America!

    • Steve_in_Vermont

      I might add we don’t learn from history because we don’t study it. That’s why we make the same mistakes over and over. Our attention span is so short we can’t remember we’ve tried “this” before and it didn’t work then. So let’s try “this” (again) and see what happens.

    • Dosojosverdes

      I hope you are being sarcastic and that you do not really believe this tired, outdated, blind alley rhetoric.

      If you just want to sit around in rose tinted spectacles and pretend that America still leads the world, then get ready to watch the sun set on your beloved USA! Get out that cold beer and don’t blink or you’ll miss that sun set! It was so good while it lasted. Now tomorrow you can watch the sun rise in the East!

      • DrewInGeorgia

        Of course he’s being sarcastic, if he wasn’t he would have said the most expensive instead of the best.

      • Jasoturner

        I would prefer to call it facetiousness.   There is a certain meanness to sarcasm that I do not like to promote or encourage.

        • stillin

          sarcasm means to rip the flesh, in Latin, just interesting, and gives a good visual.

        • Dosojosverdes

          There’s a total emptiness and inappropriateness to facetiousness that renders it useless in debate! It usually denotes an argument that has hit rock bottom! Since that is the level of this conversation I will leave you alone to enjoy the dregs.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    My guess would be that in addition to emphasizing working hard, math and science, etc. instead of spending so much time “making sure that the kids feel good about themselves”, they don’t have strong teachers’ unions whose goal is to protect  incompetent teachers, to fight rewarding teachers who excel in their profession, and to worry more about tenure and enabling tenured teachers to coast rather than actually educate their students.

    • Ray in VT

      Finland at least appears to have a very strong teacher’s union:


      Perhaps part of what they have figured out is that teachers should play a role in setting curriculum and standards, instead of leaving it to say an elected board crammed with religious nuts who seek to undermine long standing and accepted scientific theories like evolution.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        Very few school boards are crammed with religious nuts.  The leftward shift in most public schools across the country proves otherwise.  Actually, most school boards are stuffed with people who have been brainwashed by the liberal agenda.  They refuse to permit any opposing viewpoints on subjects such as evolution (they hide behind separation of church and state) because of the weaknesses in their arguments which would be exposed if an honest presentation of both sides were presented.  They kid themselves into thinking they think that they are “open-minded” (they are open minded as long as your viewpoint agrees with theirs).  They also promote the left wing social agenda by pushing gay marriage, which is morally repugnant, by equating opposition to it as the same as bullying, which is not and which no one is in favor of.

        • Ray in VT

          Thankfully relatively few are probably crammed with them, but they do manage a takeover now and then, like in Dover, Pennsylvania, where Evangelicals tried to get “creationism in a cheap suit” into the science curriculum.  There’s also the Texas Board of Education, where this came out recently:


          If there was a valid, scientific position counter to evolution, then that should be presented.  However, most critics just seem to have repackaged faith in a cloak of pseudo-science.  There’s no real need to be  “open-minded” or balanced there.  One side is a longstanding, valid scientific theory based upon evidence and observation.  The other is faith-based religious nonsense.  What’s the counter to Darwin and Evolution?  The Bible and the Creation Museum?

          One need not accept nonsense to be open minded.  Some views are just unfounded or downright stupid.  Why don’t we consider the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the role of Zeus in the creation of lightning?  Because that’s not evidence-based science.  Maybe we can teach some alternative views regarding the Holocaust.  There’s “debate” there as well.

          Gay marriage may be morally repugnant to you, but not to me, and it isn’t to an increasing number of Americans, so just keep on fighting that rearguard action.

          I don’t feel the need for schools to either promote or stigmatize it.  I can teach those sort of values to my children, and I shouldn’t have to talk to my son’s Principal again regarding a substitute teacher telling my son that our lack of faith is wrong and that there is a god.  That’s not the schools place.

        • stephenreal

          Then why do all the so-called “liberal states” out perform the so-called “conservative states” in education generation after generation?

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          You can start citing proof for your claims any time now. Especially about “intelligent design”.

          Evolution is a real theory. Intelligent design is an “idea”; I don’t even know if it rises to “hypothesis”.

          Once something becomes an actual theory, scientists can test it. If it fails, nobody pays attention to it any longer. That’s exactly what you can’t afford to have happen.

          You and your ilk want ID to be referred to as a “theory”, and our press corpse is willing to do that. Well, this board isn’t some clatch of scientifically illiterate reporters.

        • sickofthechit

           Please read the post below by Ray Vt who speaks directly to your question about religious zealots on school boards.  Where the religious zealots are welding the most power and doing the most damage is on the Texas Book Board. Since Texas is such a large school system they pretty much control the content of many of our textbooks and have actually been re-writing history as they go along to suit their own opinions instead of reflect the actual facts. Time to get more educated instead of opinionated.

          • Ray in VT

            Well said, sir.

    • stephenreal

      I find that anecdotal evidence misleading when you look at the facts as seen in this Harvard study of a state by state comparison of union vs. education scores.

    • northeaster17

      Kids need to feel good about themselves. But they also need math and science. They should not be mutually exclusive

      • anamaria23

        As one not especially attracted to math and without
        any natural aptitude, I struggled mightily to meet the requirements of geometry and higher level, spending the bulk of my homework time to master it with a mediocre grade.
        As a result, I neglected the areas I was truly inclined toward, resulting in an overall lackluster high school record.
        I went on to a successful career and never needed anything but basic math, but might have been more fulfilled had I nurtured my natural talents.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      You forgot to pimp that hack Michelle Rhee.

  • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

    While not every cross cultural experience is transferable, it is clear tha the UInited States leans far to much toward pressuring our kids to perform. This is at the expense of their personal self esteem, and has increased the teen suicide rate to alarming levels. While we talk of implementing full day pre-kindergarten and extending the high school day, in Sweden there is no formal educaton until the age of 6. Instead they do self-esteem building, socializtion excerises, nature awareness. By the age of ten, their kids outscore ours in every academic suibject. There is much to be said for a child who believes in their ability, performing toward that goal.

    • Coastghost

      Just as much might be said for countries and nations with largely homogeneous populations whose citizens share common languages and common histories.

    • stephenreal

      I find that questionable if Sweden really does what you describe as far as stiffing the pre-K kids out of education.
      Especially when you look at the well known research on early childhood education.

      • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

        I hope you heard the Finnish representative bvecause he addressed this eloquently. I also suggest you google the work of the Goldie Hawn Foundation. Really strong stuff.

        • http://www.facebook.com/irvwestyouthadvocate Irv West

          It isd a universal given (qand hasd lef to my success working wioth sturggling teens, that a child who believes in th
          emselves, enjoys strong self-esteem, will be better achievers.

  • stephenreal

    Of course, if you did a state by state comperative analysis model, I highly doubt Finland and South Korea would come close to matching the Massachusett’s education model whose scores rank consistently on top in the nation year after year.

    Now on the other hand, in my school district, in my state, it is a total failing school year after year with near zero participation from the local parents. Our district is thee poorest funded school in the state because our town is the poorest in the state which provides the 90% of the funding. (The school budget gets voted down every year because of the tax bill associated with it.) It’s is forcing a lot of people like us (white flight) with kid’s to move out of town. Kind of sucks Tom.

    • http://onpoint.wbur.org/about-on-point/sam-gale-rosen Sam Gale Rosen

      It’s an interesting point; where do you live, Stephen?

      • stephenreal


        • sam

          Yeah, you know, cause them hispanics are not people! And them kids, aren’t human and way WAY lower and dumber than you – WHITE folks are.

          They are not worthy of being in the same space and classroom as your super smart white suburban kids!

          / sarcasm

          • sam

             I hear you man! Let them learn English BEFORE they come to your school, so that the poor teachers don’t have to spend the time attending to them lower class Hispanic people or whatever you call them.

            / more sarcasm

          • stephenreal

            It ain’t the English part in my opinion. It is the poverty part combined with the a lot of other things like the town budget. Education is not my fortee’ I am just a volunteer.

            It is hard to read sarcasm.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Ah, poverty, and more specifically, childhood poverty in this country.

            Part of me marvels at how people who are actually doing the job of teaching kids who are economically disadvantaged are everyone’s whipping boy (or girl).

          • stephenreal

            I am Puerto Rican dude. So let’s just keep it real. I volunteer in the school and we have a kindergarten class with a 100% hispanics with more South Americans moving into our area in the last ten years. Poverty does play a role. There is a big cultural difference between the natives born here vs. the immigrants born there like the exceptional poverty in the American hispanic community.

          • sam

            My point being exactly – “lower class Hispanic people or whatever you call them.”

    • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

      What did Brown VS board of education say?  Separate is not equal.

      How rigid are class structures in the US?  I think we enforce oppression by class far more than we acknowledge, even to ourselves. 

    • keltcrusader

      Stephen, I can understand your concern. My sisters teach at a High School in Western MA which also has a huge Hispanic population. Taxes are continously rising enough to make people flee the city. While I truly believe all children have the right to a free and equal education, I also believe it is not the teacher’s duty to teach the value of hard work, morals or ethics. That should be the parent’s duties and it is often neglected. 

      The biggest complaint I hear is that while they provide kids with pencils, paper, etc. because the kids say they can’t afford them, they see these same kids with the newest cell phones, manicures, gold teeth, and tattoos!! How do they afford those things? Half the school population leaves for winter vacation and sometimes it is anyone’s guess as to when they will return. Some kids only show up often enough to keep the family on financial assistance (just a couple of days per month). Trying to get in touch with their parents is a lesson in futility. Some school districts have bigger issues to contend with than just teaching.  

      It is hard to see both sides of the paper at one time.

      • stephenreal

        It’s hard to get the community involved in education whether your white, hispanic, or floating rhino.

        Tattooed mommies in pajamas look so trashy and sloppy but tattooed mommy needs to get involved too in my opinion.

        A lot of these questions and answers is out of my league.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CBKTPJYUZV4QRJVQCAH4OB63GI Laurie

    Please remember, South Korea’s high ranking in education comes at a cost.  Their suicide ranking is also very high due to the pressure to succeed.  http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/05/117_110103.html

  • ten4nis

    The statement in your introduction “cultures supportive of learning is even more critical” is broad, but I suspect the key ingredient to success.

    -Students need to feel socially safe trying to get good grades among their peers.

    -How involved are parents in the academics at home?

    -Is it expected that someone is sitting next the the child when they do their homework? To what age?

    -How many hours are the Finish students actually in school? Elementary? Middle? High School?

    -How many languages are they learning? What grade do they start learning their first language?

    -Do the classes take yearly school trips? Skiing? Museums? City trips?Monthly excursions?

    • sam

       Those are great questions.
      And to add some:

      - How much time do those students spend on practical learning, like Home-Ed and making/building/creating things with their hands?

      - What role does art and music play in their eduction?

      - How long/often is recess and/or physical eduction is? Broken down by grade.

      - How flexible are teachers in choosing the pace of their teaching, how much subject and which areas they cover over a given period of time?

      - Are teachers scored, judged, evaluated?

      - What prerequisites are required to become a teacher in those countries? Degrees, tests, licenses.

      - How much community involvement do students and teachers have? Or how much involvement do communities have in schools. Are students required/encourage to participate in community organizations, projects, volunteer activities?

      - How big are those schools/classes?

      - How are students evaluated on their progress and performance?
      (In my experience, US’s testing system highly favors the multiple choice questions. In my native country, I don’t remember taking one single multiple choice test, in 10+ years of schooling there.)

      This should be an interesting topic, because almost everyone has experience – bad or good – with US education system and hence – an opinion. :)

  • Ray in VT

    I wonder what role family or social views regarding the value of education might have to play.  I also wonder to what extent these nations struggle with some of the issues that Richard Hofstadter discussed in his book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

    • stephenreal

      You thrown in television and video games and you’re cooking with gas.

      • Ray in VT

        That’s true.  There is some very good early childhood television programming that has taught my kids a lot, though, and there are some useful learning games.  That having been said, too many American kids probably watch too much crummy tv and play too many video games that don’t teach them anything.

  • toc1234

    huh?  finnish education??  psst – there’s a huge drone story in the news this week.  I was looking forward to hearing the liberals try to somehow find a way to give obama a pass on assassinating Americans…

    • anamaria23

      Actually, liberals are the ones driving the conversation, especially the Progressives in Congress.

      • stephenreal

        When I hear the term so-called “liberals” and so-called “conservatives” I think to myself what a load of political malarchy that is…

        “In politics and sociology, divide and rule (or divide and conquer) (derived from Greek:Diaírei kaì basíleue) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.”

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Yeah, I’m just waiting for some wingnut to write the “alternate history” sci-fi story about how President Romney is shutting down the drone program.

      • Coastghost

        Actually, progressives have helped elect Obama twice since his August 2007 address to the Woodrow Wilson Center in which he flatly declared his appetite for US unilateralism regardless of national sovereignty or territorial integrity.

        Glad to hear that progressives’ collective conscience yet lives.

      • Ray in VT

        I have often been surprised to see, at least on this page, how many who lean to the left express doubts and misgivings regarding drone strikes, and it has often been those who lean conservative or libertarian who have seemed okay with the strikes, even in the case when it has involved an American citizen:


  • sam

    One thing that I wanted to point out, is that not all of our students and schools are behind and failing.

    I am sure there are US students who would outperform and outscore kinds from other countries.

    So, it is not to say that we do not have successes HERE.

    But, in GENERAL – the WHOLE US’s education system can use a lot of reform, improvement and learning.

    Thank you for bringing this topic up. Very excited to listen to it.

  • Markus6

    I heard of a study in the last 2 years that stated something like this (sorry, no time to look it up now). Scandinavian countries have the top X% of students (might be 30%) according to standardized test, become teachers. However, in the US, we have the middle to lower percentages become teachers. I think it was a McKinsey or Accenture study. Don’t know who funded it, which always matters. 

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    My sister is a teacher. One major problem is parenting. Sometimes the parents are as disrespectful as the problem children. Education starts at home. Kids see their parents choosing emotion over fact.

    What is the root cause? Perhaps it What is the root cause? Ourdia culture elevates vacuous mediocrity, train wrecks and downright idiots to stardom. What are children to think?

    Our corporate driven culture is pathetic and has produced a nation dominated by vidiots.

  • Dosojosverdes

    You can swallow this old rhetoric hook, line and sinker, or you can take notice of the real situation that the USA finds itself in today and then demand that our leaders and politicians take action!On average; less than 50% of students, enrolled at state universities, in the USA today will finish a degree in 4-6 years (FACT). Goodness only knows what happens to the other 50%! After all the money spent on these students in their K-12 years in grade school; the entire voting population of the USA should be asking serious questions about what is WRONG with our education system. We spend a fortune, of tax payer’s money, on education, whilst kids and teachers put in years in the classroom and the results are, today, poor at best. The USA ranks 17th in the world on this issue.Talk to educators at the college level of our system and many will complain that a large percentage of students arrive unprepared for this level of learning. Many American students cannot spell, use grammar, do adequate research, think for themselves or express themselves coherently in writing. Sadly, and very troubling for our technological future, Math and Science are as familiar to them as Mandarin. Just read posts by younger contributors on this type of forum and the truth is as clear as the nose on your face!We will not be able to realistically compete in the global economy by throwing good money after bad and pretending that we still have an educational system worth crowing about. We must look around and learn from those countries with better results and then adopt and adapt the successful methods to work in the USA. This goes beyond the classroom and right into our living rooms at home. It will not come for free and requires a significant investment of funds and a long-term strategy aimed at improving the education to be received by future generations.God help America!

  • stillin

    I am a teacher in a very, very, small (400 kids pre k – 12) nepotism filled, district. Everybody is everybody’s sister, friend, relative, from the “leader” on down. It works on NO level. I am happy to commute in, commute out. I can and am writing a book on the entire experience, for all upcoming “educators” it is a black, simmering stew of dysfunction, trust that. They also read our emails, to whom I say, ” BUY MY BOOK!”.

    • sam

      Is it going to be called “The rumblings of a grumpy old man”?

      Maybe you should start a blog?

      • stillin

        no, I like what I do, not grumpy, not an old man, but I see it for what it is, unchecked corruption at every level.

      • stillin

        no, why would it or are you one of the grumpy old men who work here reading my emails? Subject: [on-point] Re: Education Lessons From Top-Ranked Finland And South Korea

    • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

      Your finger looks like it is pointing back at yourself.  You can start a revolution with your students, just ask questions.  Your statement “I am happy to commute in, commute out.” says it all.

      • stillin

        No revolutions allowed here, I like what I do, just not the dirty atmosphere that penetrates all.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          Not knowing anything about your situation, I’ll hazard to guess that “revolutionary” teachers get fired.

          For all the “let’s destroy teaching as a profession” background noise we get in our media, I’ll make a leap here: Getting fired is not a good career move for someone who needs to teach to put food on the table.

          • stillin

            Exactly, we have to eat, heat, and live.

        • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

          I feel sorry for you.  Education is a revolution in the mind. Just telling your students the amount of tax dollars that are paid to teach them each year, how much of it makes its way to the classroom and asking them if they think they are getting cheated by the current system, starts a new way of thinking. Be the change you want.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

            Just telling your students the amount of tax dollars that are paid to teach them each year, how much of it makes its way to the classroom and asking them if they think they are getting cheated by the current system

            That is a valid discussion point. If our big-ticket “education reformers” were interested in education, rather than simply treating students like walking, talking burlap sacks with dollar signs, filled with public monies, this question would be on everyone’s tongue.

          • stillin

            At my little school, if I even opened my mouth, about tax money their parents pay, to teach them, my guess would be the leader of the school would come in and tell me I have to go home. That little quote about be the change you want? That’s beautiful, it’s on our walls in the schools, but our school only wants people to shut up and not  say a word, give high grades and make every excuse in the book for anybody connected ( they all are) or who play sports. That’s the way it is in the real world.

      • stillin

        there can be no revolution here and yes, I am happy to commute in, commute out, me and many others. Subject: [on-point] Re: Education Lessons From Top-Ranked Finland And South Korea

  • Dosojosverdes

    You can swallow the old rhetoric, about America leading the world, hook, line and sinker, or you can take notice of the real situation that the USA finds itself in today and then demand that our leaders and politicians take action!

    On average; less than 50% of students, enrolled at state universities, in the USA today will finish a degree in 4-6 years (FACT). Goodness only knows what happens to the other 50%! After all the money spent on these students in their K-12 years in grade school; the entire voting population of the USA should be asking serious questions about what is WRONG with our education system. We spend a fortune, of tax payer’s money, on education, whilst kids and teachers put in years in the classroom and the results are, today, poor at best. The USA ranks 17th in the world on this issue.

    Talk to educators at the college level of our system and many will complain that a large percentage of students arrive unprepared for this level of learning. Many American students cannot spell, use grammar, do adequate research, think for themselves or express themselves coherently in writing. Sadly, and very troubling for our technological future, Math and Science are as familiar to them as Mandarin. Just read posts by younger contributors on this type of forum and the truth is as clear as the nose on your face!

    We will not be able to compete realistically in the global economy by throwing good money after bad and pretending that we still have an educational system worth crowing about. We must look around and learn from those countries with better results and then adopt and adapt the successful methods to work in the USA. This goes beyond the classroom and right into our living rooms at home. It will not come for free and requires a significant investment of funds and a long-term strategy aimed at improving the education to be received by future generations.

    God help America!Edit

  • geraldfnord

    I think that our education problems reflect our _actual_ values, what we actually believe as opposed to the ones that we know to _say_ we believe but don’t. We, generalising and speaking loosely, value fitting-in, money, athleticism, and not thinking ‘too much’, and berate our children with ‘Don’t you get smart with me!’ Teachers are not paid enough to engender respect from parents, since (though we may mock them) we show great respect to high earners…’Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’.

    Except for the cases of sports and money, many of us confuse someone’s wanting to do better at anything with ‘thinking they’re better than us’, or maybe it’s just that we accept that star athletes and rich men _are_ in fact better than us—the way they live shouts this, regardless of how many gossip rags and shows attempt to claim that they’re not ‘really’ happy.

    For the most part, parents, bosses, politicians, preachers, and even over-acculturated teachers don’t want real intelligence and creativity in those under them—they are always the enemies of arbitrary authority. Those who show indrpendence easily end up bullied; we don’t stop bullying because the bullies reinforce our real values. This is not a uniquely American problem, but is particularly troubling in a nation founded on the Enlightenment and supposedly against arbitrary authority.

    A once-serious Presidential contender mocked the current President for being a ‘perfessor’, in fact using the dumbed-down speech she adopted for politics’ sake (as all successful politicians, including that ex-professor, do). No wonder our figurative lunch is being eaten by cultures in which ‘Sir’, ‘Teacher’, ‘Doctor’, and for that matter ‘martial arts master’ are the same word….

    Admittedly, back on the Frontier, book larnin, though very often prized, was also deprecated as not relevant to this new land, and society was such that Easterners and Europeans _did_ in fact tend to give themselves airs with it, but as with some other things I think it were time that we as a culture put aside childish things.

    • sickofthechit

      Thanks for covering so much, so well! charles a. bowsher

    • stillin

      These words are all true.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    I’d be curious what parallels there might be in parental/community involvement. It seems pretty standard in US that parental involvement often doesn’t extend beyond complaining about local taxes and unions and saying their kids education is the “school”‘s job.

  • Trudie

    our teacher unions and the politcal rhetoric is to blame…get rid of the unions..

    • stillin

      The unions are what protect us ( teachers) when someone else needs a “job” so when rumors are started just to create an opening, for a relative or friend, which happens all the time, the union is the ONLY way you are protected. Unions are what keep us from being worked to death plantation style. Unions are our lifeblood, in teaching.

  • ten4nis

    What is the suicide rate among youth in these countries?

    Does is relate to education pressures?

  • Ashley Hodge

    Both societies are homogeneous and tiny – what role do these two factors play?

  • rogger2

    In Finland they truly honor teachers and they pay very well.
    How do we expect to recruit great teachers if the pay is horrible?

    • adks12020

      the pay isn’t horrible.  The problem is that Americans don’t value education as much as money so our best and brightest often lean towards high income jobs rather than jobs that contribute to the betterment of society.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        But when it comes to “reforming education”, the answer is never “pay them more”, yet at the same time “get better (whatever that means) people to teach”.

      • rogger2

        While I agree the US doesn’t values education as much as money I do think pay has something to do with it. 

        The teachers I know started around $30-40,000 and work 10+ hr days.  They could have made at least double that and worked less hours if they decided to find work outside of teaching in their chosen field (ie: Math & Science).  

        • adks12020

          You aren’t wrong but you also have to think about the fact that teachers basically work 8.5 months per year.  I barely make $40,000/year (around 45 hours per week) with a bachelors degree (just finished a masters so hoping for more soon) and I work 50 weeks per year. So starting teachers make substantially more money than I do if you consider that I work 11 weeks more per year than they do.

          I know plenty of teachers; my cousin is one (he’s 35), my mother is, my aunt and uncle are…none of them complain about their pay.

      • Per Kele

         there’s also the matter of respect. If I were a teacher (would-be teacher) in amerika and I wanted to take that lower pay in order to ‘give something to young people’, the very minimum I would want then for my ‘sacrifice’ is respect in the classroom and a VERY strong back up from my perincipal.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.castronovo Jim Castronovo

    My 3 and 5 year old go to a Montessori school that uses a conscious discipline framework as developed by Dr. Becky Bailey. Both children are advanced for their age. Further the school educates parents (with voluntary night classes) a method for enabling self-discipline in the kids. The children choose their own work throughout most of the day -the work available is appropriate for their level of development- and my 5 year old acts as a mentor to the younger ones in his class. One benefit of this class structure is a strong sense of cohort. On the other hand my 3 year old came home the other day talking about Mt. Kilimanjaro. They love it and I won’t be switching them out in spite of the fact that our public school district has very high marks in the state ranking.

  • pinscae


    Everyone forgets about the role of the family and
    students.  My wife teaches 8th
    grade earth science in SC and in the last two weeks she has been threatened with
    death (a student said he would get a gun and shoot her) and this week, her
    class drove her to tears and she is a very strong woman.  It is too easy to blame the teacher.  Who can anyone educate a student when the
    parents do not value education?  Literally,
    the parents say I never graduated high school and did ok why do you (my
    children) need to?  Lets put the students
    in a Finnish school or Korean schools and see how they do.  The family is one significant drawback.   

  • Con5stance

    I’m a college admission counselor at one of the Boston area colleges. We receive quite a number of applications from South Korea, very few, if any, from Finland. While the academic credentials of the South Korean applicants are very very impressive – it’s quite common to see perfect scores on SATs, SAT Subject exams, AP Exams in all subjects, not just the math/sci ones – it is more unusual to get a student who is more than only about memorization. Critical independent thinking, such as taught in the American educational system, is less emphasized. There is a belief that there is just one correct answer to all things, including in areas that are more open to interpretation, such as reading literature.

    I admire the emphasis that education has in the South Korean society. However, I’m not sure if the method of K-12 education, with its hyper competitive nature, is right for the US.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      South Korea has about 50 million population, and Finland about 6 million.

      But there is a lot to pick at here, and someone in your job is in a great place to observe.

      A quarter century ago, did a lot of Pacific Rim citizens migrate beyond the West Coast of the USA? How much English do South Koreans and Finns (whose language isn’t Scandanavian*) speak, or listen to, growing up nowadays? How do higher education opportunities in their home countries affect going abroad?

      (* I point this out because everyone says that speaking Germanic/Scandinavian languages makes learning English easy.)

      • Per Kele

         I can’t speak to the other question, although I will assume it certainly would be on the plus side,… but koreans and finns listen to a lot of english and when pressed also speak it quite well (as in passably. I say pressed because one of the old jokes about finns is that they the people who know how to be quiet in 5 languages. cute, but also true.)

  • Turdburgler

    How ridiculous. The U.S. has greater disparities in wealth than these countries and a brutal history of purposefully denying an education to African Americans. And still, as judged by the NEAP, we’ve made great progress over the last 30 years. Tease apart the data, and our middle class kids do just as well or better than Finland’s.

  • InActionMan

    No big secret. Study after study has shown that how important education is to the family especially the mother is a major indicator of how well a student will perform academically. Asian students excelling at bad schools in bad neighborhoods is the cliche example.

    Instead of paying teachers huge salaries and standardized testing we need an army of social workers to go out into bad neighborhoods and engage with the parents on the importance of education and making sure that children study and do their homework.

  • ten4nis

    Are the ratings based on all schools in the countries? Including handcraft, career and technical vocational schools as well? 
    Do their high school diplomas have the equivalency of US high schools degrees? (For example Bavarian Gymnasium degrees are judged equivalent to US associate bachelor degrees and not high school diplomas.)

  • Judy Ritchie

    Very concerned that money interests are driving education and that high stake testing is ruining a generation of learners.  Would love to here some comments about cost of preparing, administration, scoring testing, not to mention any real measurable positive results for that.  Also below….
    The Republican Party of Texas states in its official 2012 political platform:
    We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based  Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

  • viacarrozza

    What matters most is how it all turns out in adulthood. How many innovators does a country produce through their educational system?  The short term product of the extreme educational model of Korea (and Japan) seems to work but what about the long term results?  The average or mean scores that put a country on top do not necessarily create genius.  If I had to choose, I would put my money on the Finnish model.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QMDZ3LH5U2B4GAT7J2HS4TCP6E Jim

    that is amazing… the Finnish gentleman said in the second point of his key to success is to hire only master’s degree of education holders only. but what is more important is this profession is a highly sought after profession in Finland, something completely opposite of the US. The US education system never made any effort to raise standard and pay for elementary and high school teachers. all it ever want to do is point blame when things do not go right.

    I have a child and i really do not like the “tiger mom” system. Force education and making students learn by memorizing is not a way to go. but at least Korea knows something the US neglects, early education drives the future economy.

  • Emil Posavac

    I would like to hear comparisons regarding the views of parents toward teachers. I often hear of a teacher who disciplines a child being attacked by parents who seem to feel whatever his/her child does must be great.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    My daughter’s best friend is now a sophomore at college. Mother born in Taiwan, child in USA. The whip has been cracked on the child, and life micro controlled, all along. Excellent grades, stressed out beyond belief and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is no mother-daughter relationship in 10 years.

  • DeJay79

    As opposite as they are the one thing Finland and South Korea is that the parents support the system and the students want to be there, they want to learn.

    I imagine that if you looked at the communities in the US where education is valued  by both the parents and the students you would find a similar level of knowledge and abilities to these other two countries.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

    Please get the Korean guest to stop using speakerphone, I can’t understand anything she is saying!

  • enr1

    It’s so important that we equalize the distribution of educational resources country wide rather than let it be concentrated in certain towns within certain States. The inequality that is created through just this decision must significantly contribute to the overall demise of our educational ranking as well as the continued and growing gap between the classes. This must be fixed. 

    • DeJay79

       Money is not the problem. Cultural attitudes are what need to be equalized. and the one philosophy that all Americans can agree on is freedom.

      So I say that we should give freedom to the schools themselves to try to perform the best by whatever mean they want and open a network for schools to share ideas that work and ideas that don’t.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      It doesn’t matter how much education money you throw into poor inner city neighborhoods where selling drugs is seen as a better “job” prospect than finishing high school and going to college. You might grab a few more kids but the problem isn’t lack of education, it is lack (perceived and real) of no opportunity and little ‘culture’ of valuing education.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1043274337 Sara Moore Giannoni

    Are there similar frictions between teachers unions and administrations.  How is teacher quality ensured, I had some teachers that were not so good…we all have.

  • Walt B

    The most common complaint I hear from college undergrads in the US is that there’s no way they could have gotten such a bad grade because they studied for such a long time. Our education system needs to emphasize creative problem solving and de-emphasize the idea that sitting at a desk with flash cards for hours at a time facilitates intellectual growth.

  • Emil Posavac

    Great point. In both Finland and S. Korea have high standards for teachers. Just look at the average standard tests of USA education majors compared to college students in other majors. Yes, there are many good teachers, but in the US students with quite low ACT scores can be education majors.

  • JGC

    Are there too many layers of bureaucracy in the the U.S. education system?  A bad management to teacher ratio?

  • mjbarr

    one thing in common in both countries is that teaching is a respected profession, in the US teachers just don’t

  • Bob Falesch

    What I’m hearing about the distinction between the USA system and the two subjects, S.Korea and Finland, is the manner in which teachers are vetted and selected. I don’t believe the USA insists upon that level of accomplishment for our teachers.

  • cowbyte

    I wonder at the teacher education/selection method in Finland… is it as rigorous as S. Korea?

    • Per Kele

       check the 1 hour film here in this article. I don’t know about “as rigorous” south korea but our would be teachers here (finland) are not making the cut 90%. only 10% of students applying even make it into the teacher education program.

  • IAIzzy

    I would like to know their rates of poverty. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YMV2HJ2TBKMCN2QRAVI3I2OOGM Jim Jim

    what is the distribution of wealth like in those countries?

  • newt

    Over the holidays I made the acquaintance of a Professor of Business from a nationally-know and highly-competitive university.  We discussed education, and he mentioned that most of his students from Japan, China, and Korea tended to have a great deal of trouble with graduate work.  He said they tended to be  totally flummoxed by any question that could not be answered with a memorized response.  Any question that required real thought, argumentation, or originality devastated them.   On the other hand, they did really well at answers that could be memorized.
    As a former teacher myself, I saw the result of the worship of Asian and test working approaches to education.  Fortunately, American kids are too stubborn to be dominated by it.
    Americans are, per-capita, the most productive and creative people on earth in spite of the fact that we are inferior to the Koreans and other Asians and test-taking.  God help us if the Asian education-lovers come to completely control education.

    • sickofthechit

       last name ging….?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Last name “Minow”?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZOC35SLFKEL4U3HBB2DJ7Z42IU D

    The schools in Finland may be locally run, but they are funded by the state.

    In this country, we are not interested in good education for all. Our resources are allocated by the community so poorer communities have fewer resources.

  • Scott B

    Imagine if schools got the same amount of money per student, what that would mean. Instead the system punishes poor performing schools with less money, forcing teachers to try to do more, with more students, with less money and lesser results, and it becomes an endless cycle.

    • sickofthechit

       That reminds me very much of what happened to my beloved Kentucky in the “Race for the Top” competition.  All knew we lagged behind and have for years yet we had to compete head to head with much more advanced states (education-wise) and lost out on funding solely because we missed points for not having enough in the way of charter schools.  So result of “Race for the Top” was Kentucky falls yet further behind. charles a. bowsher

      • Scott B

         Charter schools are made out to be this great thing that’s the answer to all things wrong. The thing is that Charter schools have a better teacher to student ration, get better funding, and get to cherry-pick the best students – often rejecting (or seriously discouraging) children with mental and/or physical handicaps, and reducing costs and keeping the collective score up. They also don’t have to pay teachers anywhere near what they’re worth.

        So public schools are losing funds because they have less students on their roles, and the students that are left have lower test scores. Many of the remaining students also require more attention in learning issues as well as physcial issues.  It’s not cheap to supply special transportation (vehicles, gas, driver, aides, insurance), special ed teachers, aides, equipment, and all the things kids with special educational needs require.

        Some kids just shouldn’t be counted in the grading. It’s great that special needs kids, and kids with learning disabilities kids, are mainstreamed with their peers. But it’s not an apples to apples comparison, and one kids that will score a “zero” on a test every time, skews the results; and in the climate of today, with the performance-based results, that can be deadly for the teacher and the school.

  • Scott B

    Some discount that less children in the class has an effect, but my sister is a teacher, and it’s not just the kids that are effected, but also the teachers. Teacher that’s can’t devote the time, that have to “herd cats” of too many kids in one class, and spend too much of their own time reviewing students work.


  • http://www.facebook.com/crowell.jon Jon Crowell

    Here in the U.S. a master’s degree in education is a badge of shame.  An MS in education prepares you for nothing other than an entry to a unionized job and the programs themselves are absolute farces.  The “papers” you have to write for an MS in education can be written in 45 minutes the morning of the day they are due.  The “professors” that teach in these education MS programs are barely literate themselves, parroting jargon they don’t fully comprehend from text books that they don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand.  The entire field of education, from the teachers themselves to those who teach the teachers in the graduate programs is dominated by people from the lower ranks of the academic spectrum.  Honestly, when you meet a college student who is majoring in education, your first instinct is to pitch the vocabulary you use down to their level.

    • stillin

      Couldn’t agree more. NYS FORCES teachers to get a “master’s degree”…these degrees are such a joke, at 16,000 to get it, ( keeping the college professors in their jobs) has absolutely nothing to do with what goes on in the classroom. The state of education in this state, NY, is lthe equivalent to life support to a brain dead human.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.m.cogswell John M Cogswell Jr

    I am firing this hour’s show.  I can’t deal with the speakerphone nonsense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=554331277 Jenn Schuberth

    Could Dr. Sahlberg speak to the issue of addressing poverty before Finland embarked on their education reform. I’ve read other pieces by him in which he indicates that the schools simply can’t address certain problems and that Finland’s school reform was possible only in light of poverty reduction. 

  • Coastghost

    Perhaps possibly maybe Finland and South Korea have some kind of Adderall advantage that would bear examination and discussion.

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Right off the bat the decreased focus in Standardized Testing seems like a great way to start. I think the Finland Model is probably closer to an ideal educational system than any other currently in existence. Their culture likely has everything to do with their educational system, how much of a burden does everyone having access to healthcare alleviate? TRUE equality goes a long way.

    I’m not so keen on Korea’s approach. I see a stark contrast that is more easily expressed than delving into complicated cultural discussions. Finland seems to have figured out that it is more important to teach children HOW to think as opposed to teaching them WHAT to think. The US needs to be taking notes.

    • Walt B

      Well said – it’s not about cramming knowledge into brains, it’s about equipping students with the intellectual tools needed to find their own answers.

      • Per Kele

         yes, just so. it’s just exactly that old expression about GIVING a man a fish as opposed to TEACHING him how to make beer… no, wait! that’s not it is it?! ;) ….. I know you’re all with me here, so I can make jokes like that. And so the point is: in finland, we ARE teaching our children HOW to fish (and invent the warp drive) while Elsewhere, at that very same moment!….. amerikans are quietly going about the business of being dumbed down,…. with their childrens “education” being but one small piece of it all.

        • olderworker

          I definitely like the idea of teaching someone to make beer!

  • jrben2013

    As an immigrant engineering professional from the UK I was astounded to find that in the US many teachers have to take second jobs in order to make ends meet. If you notice in both Finland and South Korea teachers are treated as respected skilled salaried professionals rather than hourly paid workers who aren’t worth paying during vacations. You get the education system you’re prepared to pay for.

  • IAIzzy

    I would like to know their rates of poverty.  

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

    This is the issue in Kentucky schools!
    In Knott County, adjacent to Rockcastle, Kelly said more than half of the children have lost their parents due to death, abandonment or legal removal. Anecdotally, she says, the numbers in other aeas could be even higher.

  • donniethebrasco

    The problem is CULTURAL.  Teacher’s unions have decided that they will present themselves as one stop shopping for education.  This has caused enormous parental disengagement.

    Some parents have been convinced that they are not responsible for their child/children’s education.


    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      Many parents are convinced they are not responsible for their own education. There’s something wrong when a parent doesn’t have the knowledge to help even their 3rd, 4th, 5th grade kids with their homework.

    • Scott B

       The teachers in Finland are all union teachers, so there goes that idea.


  • Stella Karavas

    A very interesting conversation with models on opposite ends of the spectrum.  Having had three children in public schools and some of the top Boston private schools and Universities, I have observed that:
    Public – school model is not geared towards teaching for the love of knowledge and more geared to making the numbers through standardized tests in which our whole curriculum is based on.
    Private – The stress and pressure that we are starting to place on our children from a very young age will show in decades to come.  They no longer have a childhood.  They no longer develop a curiosity to learn as they are being force fed from the wound.  We will have a generation of highly stressed and burned out kids which will manifest into enormous health problems in later life maybe even effecting mortality.
    Finland seems to have the “healthy” answer.  Relaxed with an environment to foster a curiosity to learn along with quality teachers (whereas in the US there is nothing to maintain that quality given current system)

  • Satwa

    What about the Arts?
    Without the arts you are nothing.
    In the near future, computers will do all the math, humans can then do something more important with their time. For example, a human conducts a research project, but uses technology to calculate and display the statistical results. It happens all the time already. Math doesn’t have much more to learn as a cutting edge discipline, If it does, then you won’t need droves of people doing it.
    Everybody can read if they are using the internet from an early age. And in a multicultural society, it doesn’t matter if someone has a typo, or uses shorthand to communicate quickly.
    Finland and Korea need to focus more on the Arts and Humanities. They are falling way behind in the most important aspect of human life.

    • donniethebrasco

       So, we are right and they are wrong?  Stay the course?

      • Satwa

         Yes. And teach more of the arts.
        I am British, but live in America, and American schools give a much broader education and it is better. That is why US has a lot of creativity, and Finland and N Korea seems to do less creative arts.
        Of course, if you talk about schools not having money or being in ghettos, then you have a different problem that would allow such curricula to be effective in producing creative works and humanist culture.
        Let the machines do math.

        • Per Kele

           … you probably should look into the matter before making statements about creative arts. I daresay that if you come to Finland for a week, your mind will be so blown by what you found out about creative arts, that you won’t be able to find your way back to the airport.

          • Wotan

            The same is true for South Korea. 

        • Wotan

          The discussion here is about South Korea and NOT “N Korea.” As such, please look into the term Hallyu or the results of major international classical music competitions like the Tchaikovsky, the Van Cliburn Competition, Leeds and so forth. South Koreans didn’t reach such levels by lagging in arts education and there are many arts, music and humanities focused high schools. This also is not something new and dates back to Confucian and Neo-Confucian principles whose four pillars of education included the arts and humanities.

    • olderworker

      I didn’t think there was much left of Arts education in the U.S. — not sure about Finland and Korea. 

  • Bob Falesch

    This parental income-distribution of 30 years ago point is interesting, but not meaningful unless we can compare the situation in Finland of 30 years ago. S.Korea and Finland were very different countries then as well. In the USA, what do we pay our teachers?  Are the teachers unions and the education admins living in perfect harmony here in the USA? If no, what impact does this have?

  • donniethebrasco

    Schools are seen as a place where poor kids get fed.  They get free breakfast, free lunch, and learn algebra to age 21.

    Boston is fighting to increase the drop out age to 18 (from 16), simply to increase the number of teachers… The number of teachers in overpriced cafeterias.

    Under-performing schools are overpriced cafeterias.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    “For ages, our most prized quality in teachers was their cheapness. We got college-educated women as teachers for decades on end because all they got to choose from were teacher or secretary. (paraphrased)”

    More of this guest, please.

    • nlpnt

      We pay our teachers, outside “good” suburban districts, such that after paying student loans their disposable income is on par with McDonalds’ workers. Then we whine bitterly about their having a union. 

  • Julie Christensen

    Mark Tucker nails it: teachers in Finland and S. Korea hold teachers in high esteem, higher even than engineers and doctors AND gov’t money is fairly distrubuted to schools.  In the US, property tax determines the wealth of a school, so poor areas get poorer schools.  Instead of addressing these issues, what do we do?  Cut out recess (my Kindergartener only gets 15 minutes) and drill, drill, drill.  No wonder we remain uncompetitive.

    • ChevSm

      I agree 100%.
      Well said

  • rogger2

    Amen Marc Tucker. 
    You nailed it. 

  • Kyle

    Its definitely about pay!  I would love to be a teacher, but do you think they could match what I’m making as an engineer?  I don’t think so.

    • Tyranipocrit

       so then you would agree choosing to be a teacher is a noble choice?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Ewww, I hate “noble” as an adjective for anyone besides a Eurpoean royal.

        When it comes to Americans, it’s a modern code word for “take a vow of poverty” and “we’ll pass proclamations rather than any meaningful bills”.

        See: Motherhood.

        • Tyranipocrit

           It certainly wasn’t meant that way.  I think people are too sensitive.  Not everyone interprets words the same way. Is ‘honorable’ better?  I don’t have such hostility towards Europe.  Overall, Europe is a better civilization–by far–than America, in my experience, and America would do well to emulate much of European culture.  To equate Europe with royals and aristocrats is old-fashioned and ignorant.

          There is more mobility in Europe than in America.  There is more equality in Europe.  There is greater understanding and appreciation for human rights in Europe.  There is a greater appreciation of environmental action. There is less emphasis on corporatism and worship of the 1%.  Americans fear the mythical notion of “European nobility” because it is like looking in the mirror–they see the face of what they truly are inside.  Even if you look back at the Revolution there were calls for a monarchy.  Now we worship the rich and powerful and celebrities and love the British royal family.

          Teachers should get paid more–a lot more.  But as Kyle pointed out, he would rather make money than do what he wants to do.  Teaching is a sacrifice (fact, but not the way it should be–completely) and therefore an honorable profession.  You give your life to the country, to the people, to the children, to youth, to the world–you plant seeds that will grow into trees over hundreds of years.  That is the essence of nobility.  And my point is–teachers deserve more respect by people in society–instead they often get derision.

          Coincidence–i have met other engineers that have insulted the profession of teaching-seeing it in some way unsuccessful.  I’m not saying Kyle intended insult, but just maybe there is something about engineers that is less noble or honorable, something in their personality or character-type that is somewhat more selfish and ill-equipped to teach or build minds–they see more in physical structures and lack empathy for learning or teaching.  is it more noble to be driven by wealth or education?

          • Per Kele

             Well said. Thank you, Tyranipocrit.

        • olderworker

          or Teaching, Social Work, Nursing…and countless other low paid “professions”

      • Kyle

        Pretty much every job in this country is important to the future.  As an engineer I am working on important technologies which are benefitting the plant, as a teacher I would be training younger people to take future leadership and to perform future critical work.  I choose to be an engineer because it better supports my lifestyle.  

  • Stella Karavas

    End results for the two top countries:
    S. Korea – A system by force
    Finland – A system by choice

    • Per Kele

       Thank you.

  • donniethebrasco

    Also, no one is talking about the curriculum taught, standards for behavior, special education,  and testing internationally.

    Special education spending is destroying our education system.  It is misdirected and the standards are ridiculous.  Local school districts are spending $300K per year for kids to have custodial care in fake schools that purport to teach catatonic children.

  • http://wh.gov/IVp4 Yar

    Mark Tucker is on point!

    He is talking about quality achieved through oppression.  Look at what we pay child care workers.  Do we really value our children?
    We have to care about all of our workers.This is where we need to go with immigration as well.  If you work in the US you need to have a path to citizenship.  

  • yingyangyou

    If you do not adequately fund schools of education or give them high status in the culture of education, you do not get quality teachers. If you do not solve urban blight and immigration issues, urban schools will not afford or attract as many good (smart) teachers. Both Korea and Finland would be painted as ‘pinko’ socialist states by the current political majority in Congress of the U.S.. If Americans refuse to pay taxes fairly based on quality-of-life issues rather than on automobile infrastructure and corporate welfare, then there will be no money for quality-of-life programs like education.

  • Scott B

    The way that some teacher evaluations work is all screwed up.  I can remember teachers telling us that the principal would be coming in to observe, and to be on or best behavior. So he got to see us review stuff we already knew months ago, and the teachers were on their best behavior. One teacher that always got good reviews was hands down the worst teacher I’ve ever experienced, a bully with a degree.

    My sister is a teacher and where she is they send in a person with a computer program that is timed for a few short minutes. The observer was so busy pushing buttons that she repeatedly missed the things she was supposed to be reviewing. When pointed out by my sister, and her class that A, B, and C (etc…) did happen, or happened in a positive manner when the observer commented otherwise, the observer said she did indeed remember correctly, now that it was brought to her attention, but the results are locked in and un-reviewable, and unchangable. Basically told, “Sorry, it was my fault. Too bad.” Luckily the principle and the admin know better, but that’s still a result that’s on her record, is reported to the state, and could  effect the whole school.

  • Tyranipocrit

    the difference is how you measure success?  how do you define it?  Doing well on math exams or thinking creatively and forming ideas?  

  • maryrita

    Pasi Sahlberg for U.S. Secretary of Education, please. His final 3 recommendations for the U.S. are spot on.

  • naAracos

    Hi Tom
    I caught part of the program on car radio. missed the whole but wanted to add my two cents worth–  I worked in secondary education for years, outside the public system, with so-called “at risk” students who had been failed by the public system — so I have a rather jaundiced view of public education in this country. I noticed through my expereinces that the students I worked with were usually exceptionally bright, but had no belief in themselves. They’d been taught to think of themselves as stupid and failures.
    I’ve come to believe, and your conversations with the Finnish gentleman seem to confirm this, that whether or not education is successful has less to do with how it’s conducted and more to do with the culture behind it.  Has the student learned early on to think of his or herself as a valuable person?  Has s/he learned to think of education itself as something of value, or only as a privilage of the upper classes, and a stigma to his own class?

  • stephenreal

    Fascinating to hear the Finnish and Korean educators talk about social and “equality for all students” as part of their success educational story.

    Will we see rich towns wanting to pay for poor times like mine?
    I doubt it.

  • njcs

    These two counties have much smaller population and economical  inequality; while a culture that cares a lot about education. One other thing is diversity, what about the Asians and Whites do in this country compare to the all-Asian Korea and all-Whites Finland?

  • NrthOfTheBorder

    The first guest mentioned how teacher autonomy played a big role in the success of the Finnish system. I heard this as trusting professionals to do their job. This trust should not be blind and “professional” is a tall order commensurate with competitive pay and accountability. 

    If you want a great discussion on trust vis-a-vis the problems the nation faces, I highly recommend the TED Radio Hour episode called: “Fixing Our Broken Systems”….  

    While pointing out dire situation and particular American fixations the message is hopeful that if we really started to pay attention – and stop letting kooky ideologues hog the microphone – real solutions aren’t that far away.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/C22GA7HPK3ACCXO5T4LPUI47LU janet

    1  In the US, education is undermined by social and economic agenda to ensure the status quo.
    2  The teaching profession is not respected.  Many people still believe in that saying…”those who can not (do anything else) teach.
    3  One of the guests, commented that women are moving out of the education field.  Historically, teaching was one of the few occupations open to women
    4  We also need to screen teachers…many folks go into the field but don’t even like kids, with bias that hurt the students
    5  How do rates of teen parents in the US compare with Finland and South Korea

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/QLXFJYZ5XND6KVOOABZYGDQTVY Thomas

    I have 3 boys in a rural North Carolina public school district.  There is little racial or ethnic diversity here…so that is not the problem.  The most important problem is valuing education and critical thinking as a number one priority.  Also, teacher compensation and therefore prestige is low in NC.  $30,800 for a BA and $33,880 for a Masters to start.  And yes, it is easy to get into a college of education and you only need a 2.0 GPA to graduate.  A problem with the public school system is that a person with a Masters or PhD in a subject area who have had pedagogy courses and teaching experience in their degree programs need to take “education courses” in order to qualify for a teacher’s license.    

  • 1Brett1

    I’ve never been a teacher (in the formalized education system), but I do speak with a lot of young teachers and their educators…Frankly, I am aghast at some of the lack of training, lack of creativity and low level of intelligence many of them display. A young teacher recently said to me that she was having difficulty with behavioral issues in her classroom. I suggested some very rudimentary techniques of cueing, prompting, clearly-defined expectations and fully developed, defined systems of reward/consequence, basics any sophomore psychology student would understand. She behaved as if I were introducing her to  some innovative, heretofore unknown knowledge! Unfortinately, I find this example not to be atypical, either.

    I find many young teachers to be poorly educated themselves, with limited vocabularies and conceptual limitations. Their educators often don’t present much better, replete with a lot of “best-practice” jargon and no depth of understanding to support their language.

    School administrators also aren’t nearly as supportive of teachers as they should be. Their concerns seem more geared toward the social and cultural politics of a given community, and acquiescing to absentee parents’ demands. 

    Many veteran teachers seem jaded, cynical, complacent, or otherwise run down. Mentoring relationships among teachers also seem to be sorely lacking.

    I would never recommend a young person go into teaching (and many who do, leave the field within their first couple of years in the trenches). It’s a shame, as teaching is truly a noble profession, or at least it can be and should be. 

    • hennorama

      This points out the great contrasts between the South Korean and Finnish systems and the US system.  All three guests indicated that only the best and brightest are considered as potential teachers in these other nations.  They also indicated the high status and pay of teachers in these nations.  Unfortunately, this is not the case in the US.

  • Deborah Waggett

    When students are not in school-what are the children doing?  What is the role of parents?  Education is not limited to just the classroom-it takes a village.

    • stillin

      The parents in this culture, are working two jobs, to pay to have a home with kids, and are presently getting worked to death. There is nobody raising the kids except daycare or schools with 3 yr olds in it all day. This is a no win situation for the kids and the parents. I feel sorry for anybody living in this country who doesn’t have the money to stay  home and enjoy their kids, few have that, and I feel just as sorry for  the little kids in the school eating their “breakfast” at their computers. It is a messed up culture.

  • KelseaBotelho

    There is also a separation of sports and learning in these countries: we’ve intertwined education with sports in america–which is an absolute travesty. There are entirely separate academies for sports in Europe, as opposed to mixing them in with schools.  

  • Potter

    Excellent program. Very good guests. Thanks

  • hennorama

    A few words on education, from the President responsible for the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 – George W. Bush, whose words seemed to promote a No COMEDIAN Left Behind Act.

    “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”


    “As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”


    “Then you wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are appalling.”


    • OnPointComments

      You have to give President Bush credit for implementing No Child Left Behind in all 57 states visited by candidate Barack Obama during his presidential campaign.

      • hennorama

        OPC – indeed, verbal stumbles are not limited to Pres. Bush II. However, he did practically elevate them to a form of art, just not a GOOD form of art.

        • harverdphd

           Thanks for you input…a good form o fart

          • hennorama

            harverdphd – you’re on a bit of a roll. Yesterday it was a Dick joke. Today it’s a fart joke. Well done.

            Bush(malprop)isms could be described as:

            Goof. From Data? Or…?

            Oft: Roar Of Dogma.

            Dogma “Orator” – Off.

            Dogma, rot, for oaf.

            Drama. Forgo Foot.

            Daft Armor Of Goo.

            But NOT, ever, a GOOD form of art.

    • ExcellentNews

      Bush greatest accomplishment during his eight years was his guest appearance in “Harold and Kumar go to Guantanamo Bay”…. oh wait… that was not Bush but a lookalike… well, you have to give him credit at least for that.

  • Joanofbark

    Too bad you didn’t have better math teachers. You’re intelligent. You could have done better with better teaching.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Nozawa-Thurwachter/1003498190 Peter Nozawa Thurwachter

    I forsee S. Korea pushing too hard and having a political shift toward easing off the accelerator like Japan did in the mid 90s after a string of really gruesome acts of violence (Sakakibara incident) committed by children who said they saw no future for themselves in such a educational system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.wulfson Ian Wulfson

    Great show. I think one of the successes of the Finnish system is vocational training. There is a limited number of jobs that require a college degree, and plenty that require a high degree of expertise and command a high degree of pay. Electricians can make $100 an hour, while an architect with plenty of experience is lucky to make $40 an hour. Why is vocational training not promoted more in the U.S?

    • harverdphd

       Cory Thatcher…your education is useless…care to comment?

    • ExcellentNews

      Because vocational training jobs in America are outsourced to China, where employers get workers who are better educated, hard-working – for a dime a dozen. We reward these employers with tax cuts. In Finland, such employers are rewarded with a 95% tax rate and general opprobrium. 

  • RolloMartins

    Our school has hosted many Korean students. Boy, do they want out of the rat race that is their education system. But they make mince meat out of the American kids, while enjoying their new-found freedoms. No home work! To them, what the American kids have amounts to a vacation. They can come here, graduate at the top of the class AND get to slum.

    • ExcellentNews

      Haha…! Reminds me of coming to college in the US from the French system. I did not have to study for the first year and half, since I had covered all the basic science stuff already there.

  • RolloMartins

    The Finns see economic equality as a good thing. Can you imagine what would happen if somebody running for president said that? 

  • Susanne Rasmussen

    You should be talking about Finland AND Massachusetts! If you look at students in the state of Massachusetts, not the US, we do really well. Saw a study that placed Massachusetts in the top 5 f we were compared to other countries in the world. What is right about our educational system?

    Susanne Rasmussen, Cambridge

    • CambridgeStephen

      An excellent suggestion.

  • jaket1


    • harverdphd


  • carbonzlame

    Teacher autonomy is key.  In many cases teachers are forced to use a “one size fits all” curriculum.  Despite previous comments about teachers being under-qualified, most teachers know what’s best for their kids.  

    • harverdphd

       Most people know what’s best for kids…open the field to non-”teachers”.

  • jaket1

    There is TOO MUCH emphasis only on teachers and schools.
    There is TOO LITTLE EMPHASIS on student and parental involvement.
    To have the best education, we need the best teachers, schools, and best STUDENTS AND PARENTS.
    How do students spend their free time gives us insight into their motivation and intensity:  
    The average American student spends over 4-5 hours/day watching tv, social networking, the internet and playing video games.  
    Some students stay up all  night when they get a hot a new video game! 
     They tend to ignore their homework.  It is like pulling teeth.
    If students simply spent their video gaming time doing MATH AND SCIENCE PROBLEM SOLVING, they would be the best in the World.  The average high school senior would be doing graduate work!

    Students must be self motivated and not waste time.
    A wasted minute is never recovered.
    _______________________Looking only at teachers,  is  like trying to be a world class athlete  by concentrating ONLY on  coaching.  When they need endurance workouts, weight training, psychological training, diet, supplements,  meditation, rival competition, sports meets,  and mentorship._______________________With lousy unmotivated students, no system will do well.Asian college students when transplanted to American universities do very well.  They are motivated and hard working.
    That is the secret to success.

  • harverdphd

    Simple…make teaching a 12 month job…dump tenure and the unions, see who survives the shakeout, and stand back for the applications.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698145259 Nick Dimitrov

    I have a 4 grader and I have been puzzled by the system of education. In Omaha Nebraska we have several school districts. every one of them has their own program and way of educating children. And that is in Omaha, not the state. Growing up I had the chance to study in USSR and PRBulgaria. I remember the great and high school that reminded me of a university, you  have a academic class, grades, exams… in 4th grade. you don’t know you repeat the year.. You don’t drag the rest of the class.

    30+ years later I walk in my son’s class room and It reminds me of daycare. In my 4 grade years I had 45 min class, 10 min. break and that rotated during the day. So you end having 4-6 classes a day. math, history, biology, music… PE. In my son’s schedule, Monday is PE, Tuesday is library…., Wednesday is something else. I am sorry but I don’t see education. I push him at home to read and solve math problems so he will learn. Division and multiplication in 4th grade??? Excuse me but that is ridiculous. All the help goes to the kids who do not study thus… the one who do… don’t get the attention. and instead to go further we get pulled back.

    And last not least… I do wish the educators in US public school to have PhD. 

    • olderworker

      You do realize that educators in the U.S. public schools are not paid the way Ph.D.’s normally expect to be paid, though, right? 

  • Deinse Jarman

    You should ask your Finnish educator at what age they begin teaching reading and what the rate of dylexia is in Finland compared within the US.  I think Finnish education respects child development and understands that children do not develop the symmetry they need to learn to read until about 8 years of age.
    We may be harming our children by not respecting their development.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=698145259 Nick Dimitrov

      Yet no child develops equally… My son start reading at 5. It is what you do with your kid. If you read together a fairytale, exercise the alphabet and watch “super why” & “Martha the talking dog” on PBS… chances are development will be much faster. Thing is out of 20 kids class 3-4 are at that level… the rest I would leave behind. “repetition is mother of knowledge”  

  • CambridgeStephen

    This was a wonderful program.  Thank for the sensible approach to a complex problem without getting bogged down in distracting PC approaches. The contrast between such different countries–one East Asian, one European–could be taken further and I hope you will in future programs.   There is more to education than test scores–for example national creativity and innovation years after formal education ends.

  • CambridgeStephen

    Nothing is that simple.  You as a PhD (candidate? imposter?) should know better.  Perhaps your inability to spell Harvard is indicative of other holes in your reasoning. 

  • Tyranipocrit

    The caller who talked about racial and cultural disparity is spot on and the guest waffled about noting in response.  The caller was absolutely right.

  • Tyranipocrit

    The caller was not suggesting we need to become a homogeneous society–that’s ridiculous–the point is we are a racist society and a classist society and educational funding or commitment is not distributed equally. Moreover, we do not value different elements of society for every aspect of life in the same way–it is racist and unequal.  It is not just about education–it is about health care, social programs, the criminal justice system, the war on unions and the working class, drugs–facilitated by a corrupt system, history–a history of slavery, KKK, lynchings, broken families…this is a social problem and it cannot be fixed just by looking at education or funding or exam culture.  We need to look at every aspect of our unequal and classist sexist racist war-mongering gun-toting violent society.  It is an ecosystem, all connected and symbiotic.  This is not touched on in this program at all–as usual, Americans fail to see the benefits of a holistic society in science, in education, in equality, in health, etc…

    In Asia, everyone is essentially the same and so they can focus on the country as a united whole, unburdened by a racist slave past obsessed with war and sustaining an empire that goes around shoving a big stick down people’s throats. (There are some minority groups in China, but that is a whole different conversation not comparable to American society/history)

  • Tyranipocrit

    There is no way we emulate Korean society.  We will never be that authoritarian or narrowly focused.  Korea developed a culture based around family, community and education over many ages–we did the opposite–we focused on developing a culture of selfishness–self-interest, and war.  We need to learn from Finnish and Norwegian culture.  We need to isolate racist southern culture once and for all–criminalize it, and thereby set the ethical example for youth and generations to come.  Unfortunately, we exemplify corruption, wealth and power and war and guns and torture and call it heroics–no wonder we are so warped.  This is what our children see and learn.  And it perpetuates itself over generations, so our education can only get worse, not better, because we are adamant not to look in the mirror and change.  We refuse to punish war criminals committed by the highest leaders in the land and our children are paying attention.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IJ2ZL5RQNRNS4YTRYVT6FUP7T4 Brent-SabrinaL

    This show was far from nailing the degradation of American education… America has become increasingly spoiled, to which point we think we can throw more money and prestige at our problems to fix them. The paradox behind this article is that these kids still consistently outperform, even here in America. Ask yourself why. The truth is simple, parents in America have an equal responsibility in the education of children. Instead, we choose to delegate this crucial responsibility, sending our children to school at early ages, longer days, and more homework. It will always be easier to say I am not responsible, than I am irresponsible. The truth is, regardless of what we pay teachers, they will only be part of the solution…

  • Michael Wilson

    When people who aren’t prepared to teach are thrust in an oppupation where they have to accomodate Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Persian/Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, and Vietnamese, it’s no wonder the system is a failure.

    Add to this mix the absence of parenting in a large portion of the student population and the overall culture of disrespect.

    • stillin

      overall culture of disrespect is the biggest obstacle.

    • ExcellentNews

      When you discover that all the minorities you listed above OUTPERFORM our home-born and home-grown students academically and professionally, you realize that your theory is a load of carp…

  • Sy2502

    It’s quite fascinating that two such different cultures as Finland and Korea have similar results. It’s hard to imagine what their school systems may have in common. 

    From what I read, the Finnish school system concentrates more on learning than on test results. This may be something our standardized test school system may want to rethink. Lately I have started hearing of taking Algebra out of the middle school curriculum because “so many children find it hard and fail the tests”. Wonderful, let’s dumb down the curriculum to raise the test scores! And for what Korea is concerned, family and society expects much from students, and pressures them to do well. While that can get too extreme, I do think that coddling children and caring more about their feelings than their school achievements isn’t very productive either. 

  • ExcellentNews

    Well, our role models are Snooky, Magic Johnson, Britney Spears…etc. so what do you expect? Parents are overworked toiling overtime on two jobs to pay the interest on the credit cards, so what do you expect? There is no discipline in the classroom, so what do you expect? Differences in education translate to differences in quality of life. Finland – a country that has NO natural resources and was in ruins 60 years ago from WW2 – has surpassed the US not just in education but in overall living standards. The same trend holds to many other social democracies which copied the New Deal American model and educated their citizens. Meanwhile, we have a corporate billionaire oligarchy, which loves it when a dumbed down populace watches PAC-sponsored election ads, and is ready to go to war in countries they cannot even find on the map.

  • Regular_Listener

    I don’t doubt for an instant that one of the main reasons South Korea and Finland have more successful educational systems than America’s has a lot to do with the cohesiveness and cultural homogoneity of the student population, and their cultures as a whole.  I am glad the show spent a lot of time on this question because it is a crucial one.  There are other reasons of course, like the amount spent on schools, and how that money is spent, the roles of teachers and teachers unions, and something nobody seems to want to discuss – the high birth rates of our poorest and least integrated citizens.  We can do better in education, but it will be hard to do so without spending more money on low-performing school districts or making our society more homogenous.  Still, we can celebrate and enjoy the benefits of our huge, diverse culture – something no Korean or Finn can do.

  • Grace Kim

    I think this has as much to do with homogeneity as it does with cultural differences between our countries. Let’s face it, a large portion of Americans have gotten lazy. How do we expect our country to become a top power in terms of education if we don’t value it? I work in the education sector and it’s frankly sad to see how some parents just don’t understand what education means beyond a mere GPA or test score. We need to stop allowing our children to become lazy and truly instill a value of hard work and meritocracy. I am Korean American and have always understood exactly what education meant and knew I had to work hard to become successful. That’s just simply not what some people I meet have been taught.

  • http://twitter.com/kumarkunal13 Kumar Kunal

    Finland and Korea #1 & #2 hard to believe but the fact it is. Kudos to them for achieving this remarkable spot.

  • logic23

    What about the latest TMSS study where the US beat and/or tied Finland?  What about the study that disgreggated the PISA scores according to poverty levels and found the US students not in poverty came out in the top 5?  We have one of the largest levels of poverty (>20%) of all the OECD countries, much larger than that of Finland or Singapore.  The mantra of the failing US school is a lie and needs to stop.  The failure is one of not addressing poverty in any real manner.

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