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What Americans (and many westerners) forget about Finland's Successful Schools

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by downtown, Dec 31, 2011.

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Read the OP...then, would you get rid of private schools?

  1. Yes, those educational gains make ending private school worth it.

    50.5%
  2. No, no benefit to society justifes that loss of liberty

    17.9%
  3. The existance of public schools at all is too much of a loss of liberty for me

    3.2%
  4. I have no idea, but I sure like clicking poll options!

    11.6%
  5. All students should attend downtown memorial high

    16.8%
  1. Atticus

    Atticus Deity Retired Moderator

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    I think there's clear connection with the existence of private schools and the quality of education: If we'd had as crappy public schools as US apparently has, people would be on barricades. That's why our schools need to be at least decent.

    Whole other thing is, whether abolishing private schools would make any difference. I find that a little too big thing. Perhaps just give public schools more tax money.

    I found the explanation of Finland being more homogenous odd, but then realized that it translates to Finland having more evenly distributed wealth! :D

    Lastly, Finnish education has it downfalls too, and I too am of the opinion that primary schools are more about indoctrination than education.

    Odd that I'm the first Finn in the thread.
     
  2. ajsciri4

    ajsciri4 Warlord

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    Finland is right, I think. It surprises me that Finland has the highest quality of life due to the fact that Finland was utterly demolished in the war between Sweden and Russia on that very land - of course, that was 200 years ago, but wars like that, though far behind us, can destroy a country for centuries. African colonization supports this argument well.
    Also, I think that it shines in comparison with America due to mainstream trends that tend to spread in America quite easily, namely drugs, which can destroy one's mind. I'm not saying this doesn't happen in Finland, but I'm almost absolutely certain it's on a lesser scale if it even does happen at all.
     
  3. Quackers

    Quackers The Frog

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    Finnish parents care more then American parents?

    @DT - I find the idea that the states of Texas and Lousiana use test scores to determine the future number of cells astounding...
     
  4. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Actually, when people talk about the diversity of the US causing this or that problem, they mean race and immigrants.
     
  5. Princeps

    Princeps More bombs than God

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    I was just sitting back and letting these stupefied foreign peasants ponder their failures.

    :p

    I don't for a moment believe that the failures of the US education system are a mystery. The US could fix it, if they found political will.
     
  6. Atticus

    Atticus Deity Retired Moderator

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    No, but there's no choices in Finland, at least not much. In US it's only part of the population that goes to bad schools, and that part is pretty disillusioned with politics already.

    Yes, and that's what I found odd and then funny: I couldn't understand how different races makes it necessary that education is worse. Then when they Luiz spoke of homogeneity, I was going to ask him how that can be an answer and homogeneity in what respect (we have 50% males and 50% females, very heterogeneous population), I understood it: that it matters whether the population is homogeneous with respect to their wealth. That just happens to coincide with being of different race or immigrant.

    Finland is btw quite heterogeneous with respect to language too. There are parts of Finland where it can be difficult to get by if you speak only Finnish.
     
  7. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    It's just an excuse. Minorities are disadvantaged, people want to keep it that way, so they say the minorities cause special challenges.
     
  8. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    Isn't innonimatu a Finn? If so, then those primary schools clearly aren't indoctrinating you well enough, given that he said the same thing about them ;)
     
  9. Princeps

    Princeps More bombs than God

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    Hmm. Now that I think of it, I do believe that there is a link between education quality and public monopoly over education. Since all people have to go to the same schools as everyone else, there is a strong incentive among all income groups, social groups, political parties, etc, to maintain a high public school quality. Rich people whose children go to private schools do not care about the condition of public schools where the majority of people study.

    I made quite a few friends in school, obviously. When I think of my friends, some of them come from poor families, others from middle class families. One girl that I know is the daughter of a big real-estate millionaire, yet she also studied in public school with the rest of us. So yes, my personal experience, I think, supports this view.
     
  10. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    Ah yes, the old "they must be racist" line.

    Nope, I'm afraid when people talk about how being homegeneous poses less of a challenge they mean stuff like homogeneous countries not having to deal with millions of kids who don't speak the majority language, who come from vastly different cultural backgrounds and thus find it harder to adapt to school, etc.

    50% of American kids belong to some minority, a huge part of them has recent immigrant background. If you think that poses no challenge to education, you're dellusional. This is not to say that immigration is a bad thing, but it will mess up international rankings, so it's not racism to point that out.
     
  11. Hehehe

    Hehehe Emperor

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    Students aren't "brutally forced" to study here. There's a lot of effort put in to help the kids who do poorly at school.

    I'm not saying this cannot be the case, but can you please elaborate?

    Of course, Finland is more homogeneous but we do have our minorities too.
     
  12. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    The numbers you posted don't help much. The 80% figure is for people "five or older". When we talk about public education we're concerned with "18 and younger". And that's a massive difference in a country such as the US, where the older population is massively white and English-speaking and the younger population is essentially minority-majority, with a huge part of those minorities speaking languages other than English at home. I wouldn't be surprised if as much as 30% or even 40% of American kids spoke some language other than English at home (the number is necessarily much higher than the 20% for the overall population). This is a gigantic challenge.

    It's a whole different scale than Finland, which does have minorities but is a very homegeneous nation by western standards. So no, the challenges faced by the US are not really comparable to those of Finland.
     
  13. Yeekim

    Yeekim Deity

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    Portuguese, afaik :)
    This, absolutely.
    While I agree, I believe that disparity in wealth is ultimately more important challenge.
     
  14. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/famsoc5.asp



    The outrageously high figure of 80% that Hehehe quoted from wiki was quite clearly wrong. The figure is actually 79%. Come on people, get it right :p Though to be fair, it does indeed vary: "In 2009, the percentage of school-age children who spoke a language other than English at home varied by region of the country, from a low of 12 percent in the Midwest to a high of 34 percent in the West."

    EDIT: x-post with Yeekim - My mistake, thanks.
     
  15. Brighteye

    Brighteye intuitively Bayesian

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    Why are people so obsessed with the average scores?
    If having rich and/or intelligent people in classes with poor/stupid people makes the average level higher beyond the addition of a high-end datum to the mix, it's not necessarily a good thing.
    Yes, we want low-achievers to achieve more. But why should we sacrifice the achievement of high-achievers to that end?

    If high achievers take less teacher time, and hence allow more time to be dedicated to low achievers in order to get everyone over a threshold, we're sacrificing the high-achiever's achievement beyond that threshold.

    What is it that makes a high-achiever deserving of discrimination? Why should such a person get less teaching time than a low achiever?

    If we want a society of utter equality, and are willing to enforce it, why don't we shave everyone's head to stop bald people standing out? Why not pluck out everyone's eyes to stop blind people being disadvantaged?

    The idea that good pupils should be forced into classes in order to benefit other pupils is monstrous. We should show that this will not hurt their education in any way, and consider other giant reorganisations of the educational system that will cost a lot to introduce, before we jump on the idea.

    I am, by the way, very sceptical of the idea that good pupils act as role-models for bad ones. In my limited experience of dealing with children it seems more like a couple of bad apples can sour the whole barrel, rather than a few good ones making everything better.

    Private schools do promote inequality. That is a bad thing. But selection is not a bad thing, and if state schools streamed pupils, as happens in Holland, and used to happen here, then I'd happily shut down private schools.

    The argument against private schools has to be a separate one from the horrific ideals/ unproven assertions of the arguments against selection.
     
  16. downtown

    downtown Crafternoon Delight

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    Yeah, Luiz is right that ESL populations are a significant challenge in many school districts...but it isn't a national problem...that issue is fairly confined to large cities and the southwest. There are going to be places in Arizona and California where 80, 90% of your students will be ESL. In the midwest, you might have several counties where they have virtually none.

    Even in places that are "majority minority', you still end up with lots of people like me...
     
  17. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    The full percentages are below, from here:
    http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/acrossstates/Rankings.aspx?ind=81

    Spoiler :

    United States 22%
    Alabama 6%
    Alaska 14%
    Arizona 30%
    Arkansas 9%
    California 46%
    Colorado 20%
    Connecticut 20%
    Delaware 13%
    Florida 28%
    Georgia 14%
    Hawaii 17%
    Idaho 13%
    Illinois 24%
    Indiana 10%
    Iowa 10%
    Kansas 13%
    Kentucky 6%
    Louisiana 6%
    Maine 5%
    Maryland 16%
    Massachusetts 21%
    Michigan 10%
    Minnesota 13%
    Mississippi 3%
    Missouri 7%
    Montana 5%
    Nebraska 14%
    Nevada 33%
    New Hampshire 7%
    New Jersey 28%
    New Mexico 32%
    New York 29%
    North Carolina 14%
    North Dakota 5%
    Ohio 7%
    Oklahoma 10%
    Oregon 19%
    Pennsylvania 11%
    Rhode Island 24%
    South Carolina 8%
    South Dakota 9%
    Tennessee 7%
    Texas 36%
    Utah 13%
    Vermont 6%
    Virginia 15%
    Washington 22%
    West Virginia 2%
    Wisconsin 11%
    Wyoming 6%
    Puerto Rico 97%
    Virgin Islands N.A.


    The national average is 22% in 2010, lower than what I expected, but still on a whole other level than Finland. But even the national average may not tell the whole story: the statistic is 46% in California, 36% in Texa, 33% in Nevada, 32% in New Mexico and 30% in Arizona. I'm willing to bet that schools with a high proportion of kids who speak a second language at home are well over-represented among poorly performing schools.

    Yeekim mentioned inequality as a bigger challenge. I agree, but I'd say that it's not inequality per se but actually poverty. The US has a much higher poverty rate than Finland, especially among children. Of course this has many reasons, but the fact that such a large proportion of American kids have recent immigrant background from Third World countries is not a small part of the story.

    Again, I am not saying immigration is bad. In fact it makes the American economy more dynamic. But it does increase the national poverty rate, decreases the average score at performance tests, etc. None of this is important, but it's true.
     
  18. Mise

    Mise isle of lucy

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    I bet Mississippi (3%), Kentucky (6%), Louisiana (6%) and Alabama (6%) score really well due to their low level of ESL students.

    It's clearly not ethnic homogeneity. It's just poverty. Ethnic homogeneity might be a good proxy for poverty, but we already have poverty rates, so why talk about ethnicity at all? It's dumb. The problem is poverty, not race or immigration, regardless of how well (or poorly) correlated they are. That's what Cutlass and Atticus were getting at.

    Atticus said it best:
     
  19. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    But a big part of the answer why the US has a much larger poverty rate than most developed countries comes from the fact it has a larger (third world) immigrant population.

    It's harder and more expensive to teach poor children (well), especially if they come from a different cultural and linguistical background.

    The fact that there are poor states with little immigration does not detract from the fact that relatively rich states such as California or Texas perform poorly because of it.

    Edit: And I don't know how good this ranking is (I just picked it because it showed up as the first link in my Google search for "US states education ranking"), but the absolute worst state seems to be Arizona, followed by Nevada. California is the 4th worst, just above Mississipi. So in the 4 worst states we have 3 immigrant-heavy states, despite the fact that they're not among the poorest states. New Mexico is also pretty bad. So no, just poverty is not the whole story.

    Here's the rank:
    http://www.morganquitno.com/edrank.htm

    Vermont is apparantly #1.
     
  20. downtown

    downtown Crafternoon Delight

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    Do we count Mexico as 3rd world?
     

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