What’s education like in other countries?

This post is inspired by the WordPress PostADay challenge: Which three countries would you like to visit and why? I don’t intend to follow the challenge rigidly but I do want to increase the amount of reflective blogging that I do so I thought subscribe to their blog in order to boost my inspiration, using any of the topics that I can put an educational spin on. So my educational spin for this question is:

Which three countries would you choose for CPD purposes and why?

I think this is a good question to consider as I believe that looking at other models of education can help to focus on our own ideologies, question our own models and move education forward. I suspect that most people reading this will only have experienced one education system(two at most): the one of the country they grew up in and they teach in.

First on my list is Finland. It’s regularly in the news for being one of the top education systems in the world (based on the PISA test, which assesses problem solving, reading literacy and scientific literacy) and also have one of the lowest amount of hours spent in the classroom too so I would love to know how they do it and see it in action. This article gives a little more info on the Finnish system.

Second up is Japan. I don’t know a lot about the Japanese education system but considering they’re one of the most innovative scientific and technological societies in the world (third largest budget in the world for research according to the ever accurate wikipedia 😛 ) they must be doing something right. I’d like to see what it is.

In a slightly different direction is South Africa. South Africa now has one of the highest rates of investment into education in the world, running at around 20% of state funds (http://www.southafrica.info/about/education/education.htm) but is nowhere near as advanced as countries like Japan and Finland. It’s not even included in the PISA rankings I mentioned earlier. I think it would be really interesting to see this end of the education spectrum and what they are doing with all the funding, how they are trying to advance their system and what kind of system they are following.

So, those are my choices. Of course, there are other places I’d love to visit too. It would be interesting to visit somewhere with no real formal education system in place too but I’m only allowed three 😛

I have been lucky enough to have some experience of the Spanish education system as part of my PGCE. I spent 4 weeks teaching in a 3-12 school in Murcia and it was very different. Teachers turned up 5 minutes before the day started and left when the children did. Lessons ridgidly followed the textbook, particularly in the older primary years, with the teacher talking at the front then children answering questions from their books. There were no interactive whiteboards, not even whiteboards and I think the school owned only one computer. There were no teaching assistants and no differentiation. Children called their teacher by their first names yet their behaviour was good and they had respect for all the adults in the school. It was quite a different experience to education in this country. Much more relaxed and a lot less to fit into the curriculum. When the Spanish students came for their 4 week placement in England the pressure and accountability was one of the things they said they really struggled with.

(Something like this has actually recently happened in Northamptonshire. Some members from the #NorthantsBLT when on a visit to South Korea in the October half term to see how they use technology in education. Unfortunately I didn’t work in this county when it was all arranged so I missed out 😦 It sounds like they had an awesome time though and they blogged all about it here.)

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3 Responses to What’s education like in other countries?

  1. Michael G. says:

    Unfortunately Australia seems pre-occupied with borrowing ideas from nations struggling to deliver good Educational outcomes.

  2. Jan Pringle says:

    Thought-provoking post! I too am intrigued by the Finnish system in particular.
    “There is an emphasis on relaxed schools, free from political prescriptions. ” from the article you linked may be one of the reasons they do so well! Education in our own country currently seems anything but relaxed and is certainly far from free from political prescriptions.

    • emmaldawson says:

      Thanks Jan. Wouldn’t it be great to have less political prescriptions. I can see that they think they are doing us a favour, and of course I do think there needs to be some level of accountability, and some sort of National Curriculum so that children don’t miss out but I think perhaps our successive governments have taken things too far, particularly with their ‘we know best’ attitude.

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