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Wednesday, December 4, 2013


International education is the posting today, but on this hump Wednesday, let me begin with a clip of:

sent to me by David Ikegami, who I might advise, should be more selective, as I can't keep up with his volume, and many times skip altogether when busy.  But this is a good one to start your day.

Well, the latest Program for International Student Assessment results were announce (coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation operating out of Paris), and 15-year old students from the USA wallowed at #24 in reading, #36 in math and #28 in science.  The top countries:
  • Reading
    • #1  Shanghai (China)*
    • #2  Hong Kong (China)
    • #3 Singapore
  • Math
    • #1  Shanghaai
    • #2  Singapore
    • #3  Hong Kong
  • Science
    • #1  Shanghai
    • #2  Hong Kong
    • #3  Singapore

Also doing well were Japan, South Korea, Finland, Ireland, Taiwan and Estonia.  Estonia?

When Estonia regained its independence in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, less than half its population had a telephone line and its only independent link to the outside world was a Finnish mobile phone concealed in the foreign minister's garden. Two decades later, it is a world leader in technology. Estonian geeks developed the code behind Skype and Kazaa (an early file-sharing network). In 2007 it became the first country to allow online voting in a general election. It has among the world’s zippiest broadband speeds and holds the record for start-ups per person. Its 1.3m citizens pay for parking spaces with their mobile phones and have their health records stored in the digital cloud. Filing an annual tax return online, as 95% of Estonians do, takes about five minutes. How did the smallest Baltic state develop such a strong tech culture?

EDUCATION!!!  Plus, Tallin (capital of Estonia) is 51 miles across the gulf from Helsinki, Finland, which is the showcase education headquarters for Europe.  When I wrote my education chapter for SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, I visited with officials from Finland to learn why they are so successful.  Turns out they prioritize building relationships over inundating their students with tests.  Their secret?  Teachers in Finland are highly respected (more so than medical doctors), which was not so in the 1970's.  Government policy changed the nature of the country.  

Interestingly enough, Finland is only #2 in respect for teachers (the dots, not the bars).  Singapore is #1.  Note that Japan, China and South Korea also show well in this category.

* But about the  top three in reading, math and science above, how accurate are those comparisons?  Not at all, actually.  Apparently, those students tested in Shanghai and Hong Kong were the elite.  In Shanghai, 84% go to college.  If the entire country participated, China would not be #1.  But there is no doubt that Asian countries dominate in educational excellence.  Vietnam, for example, is now #8 in science, and their GDP/capita is but $1596, versus the USA with $49,956 (China $6188, Finland $46, 179, Singapore $51,709).

Nation at Risk?  Is the USA doomed to mediocrity?  I don't think so.  From SIMPLE SOLUTION for Humanity:

So is the U.S. in trouble?  Is the strongest economy ever a generation or two away from mediocrity?  NOPE.  There is one area where we still lead in eduction:  higher education.  The total expenditure per student in the U.S. is $18,570, compared to Denmarkk at #2 with $11,600 and Britain at #3  with $8970:

          -  The top three universities (Harvard, Stanford and Cal).
          -  Eight of the top ten.
          -  Seventeen of the best twenty.
          -  Thirty-seven of the top fifty.

As a nation, we have, apparently, decided to focus on the few who will lead and produce.  Who said there is no gifted children program in the U.S.?  We have, it's just that it is limited to higher education. Something is working, and this could well be the answer.

Not a particularly great sunset, but the following is just a ho-hum occurrence:

However, I show this scene because tomorrow I am officially notifying the world that my apartment is on sale.  What?  Give up Heaven?  No.  First of all, I wonder if there is, really, a Heaven.  Second, I  just might well be moving to a higher order of Heaven on Earth.


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