Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Education Rag Redux

A new study came out on math and science skills nation by nation, world wide. It is the most comprehensive study so far. The results from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study were released this week. BBC America reports that the top five countries on the list of achievement for fifteen year old students in math and science are: Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Finland is the first Western nation on the report, with a respectable 6th, and my native country, the Netherlands, ranks ninth overall. Great Britain ranks No. 20, and the United States ranks No. 28. I mention this study because we keep deluding ourselves in this country into thinking we are the best in the world when, clearly, we are not – and in education, we should be if we want to justify our high opinion of ourselves. The fact is that we are being far outstripped by others in both science and math, which is why we are finding ourselves bringing in foreign scientists and engineers to help us keep up, and outsourcing so much of our business. Dangerous trade agreements aside, where America should be focusing its energy is in educating its young and encouraging them to be bold, innovative, imaginative and experimental. We have to stop lying to ourselves. We have to realize that our security as a nation – as who we want to be – depends less on bullets and more on mechanical pencils, less on test results to “prove” learning and more on learning with a free hand to try and fail and ultimately succeed; less on learning how to answer questions and more on learning how to ask them. some would call this the scientific method; I prefer to think of it as common sense.

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