Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Look at the World's Best Education Systems

Image courtesy of NCEE

I've always been fascinated with the lives of people from around the globe. After seeing Time magazine's Hungry Planet, I thought it might be fun to do something similar. Today I will show you how education looks around the world.

Population: 5 million
GDP per capita: $46, 178

Image courtesy of In Stash
While the United States and China push their students overboard with grades, excess homework, and long hours, Finland has been working on devising an education that makes their kids smarter and happier. Recently ranked the best education system in the world, Finnish primary school students get seventy-five minutes of recess and very little homework. All Finnish teachers must complete a masters and are given the same status as doctors and lawyers. And they don't focus on following a national curriculum; teachers are allowed to teach the class as they see fit. Many people are now pushing for a similar program in the US, and you can see why.

South Korea
Population: 50 million
GDP per capita: $22,590

Image courtesy of Dalian News
Until Finland took away the first place prize, South Korea had the world's best education system, but for different reasons than Finland. The students work long hours and have little play time. While they manage to garner high results, it's at a cost. Recent reports show that suicide is one of the leading causes of death in South Korea. Many public officials are now starting to question the education system that has worked for them for so long.

Take Hye-Min Park as an example. She goes to school from 8am-4pm, heads home for a quick snack, and then attends a "hagwon" school from 6-9pm, followed by two hours of self-study. Although she says that she is very stressed, she believes this is the only option for her in order to achieve her goal of becoming a teacher. Her mother, while upset her daughter has to go through this, says that she supports her daughter's decision. After all, it's the only way to the top... for now.

Image courtesy of Beauty Lounge Denver
Population: 23 million
GDP per capita: 85,033

Shanghai and Korea both follow the "zombie" model for education: work hard, sleep little. In Shanghai, children attend public school for nine hours. Most everything they learn is factual and the education system allows little room for creativity. However, Shanghai was the top scorer on the international standardized test; meanwhile, the US lagged behind.

Interesting Videos/Articles
South Korea College Entrance Exams
The Four Million Dollar Teacher
South Korea Full Story
Interesting Facts About Finland's Education
Shanghai: Tests, Tests, Tests 
Note: I found most of my information in the links above, however, not all my sources are linked.

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