In light of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London beginning this Friday, check out this nifty infographic (see below) comparing the education of countries who have received the most gold medals.
What's interesting about this infographic is that "hours per year required in the classroom" seems to be viewed as a good
thing, i.e. the longer the instructional day, the better. On the
contrary, if you compare the countries who subject their children to
more school hours per year vs. international assessment performance (via
the PISA, etc.), a negative correlation seems to exist.
this offers a deeper insight into the culture of homework and families
in other countries vs. the U.S. Maybe the school day has grown longer in
the U.S. because those who care about the numbers believed it's a quick
fix to bad and/or absentee parents unavailable to instill solid values.
Instead, maybe we should think about what types of people are becoming
parents and what they are teaching their children either directly or
indirectly. Are American parents today encouraging/yelling/telling their
children to do their homework or are they developing a culture that
values education as an expectation? Are American parents today
relatively more hands-off about what's going on in their kids'
classrooms compared to the past? Are American parents today fully
equipped to deal with the finances associated with raising a child
through post-secondary education? These are tough questions to think
about and while they may not pose pretty answers, we have to admit that
current social policies may ultimately dictate educational outcomes.
I'll give you an example.
On the "A" train in New York
City, there are many posters depicting a female teenager lost in
thought, and possibly crying. It is an advertisement against abortion:
reconsidering your choice. And it works, because advertisement works. So
yes, plastering "abortion is bad" posters in NYC subway cars may
ultimately convince a 16-year old female to keep her unplanned child,
but numbers compiled over years and years don't lie: statistics show
unplanned children born into poverty with a single-parent face tougher
challenges. As a result, when this child grows up, his/her test scores
may factor into the reason why the U.S. is lagging behind other nations.
Having great schools and amazing teachers is not enough, yet we still
trick ourselves into believing this.
How can we as a country be so "data-driven" yet ignore the data when it really matters? Poverty forces human beings to pick survival over knowledge. I mean, we are animals after all.