American School vs. Foreign Schools

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American School vs. Foreign Schools

Picture by Pranesh Kumar

Picture by Pranesh Kumar

Picture by Pranesh Kumar

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There is no surprise that immigrants, to a large extent, have been the backbone of our country. They are skillful and knowledgeable and have greatly supplemented America’s powerful economy. The new global economy demands skilled and educated workers due to the influx of more complex jobs. Foreign-born workers have started occupying these sophisticated jobs, and they are forcing American workers to compete for openings. Why is this happening?
The root of this problem lies in the academic weaknesses of the American workforce. Ultimately, no matter how much we might deny it, foreign schools in many developed countries are more effective than American schools.
In particular, our weaknesses are in math and science, two subjects vital for students to acquire high paying jobs. According to an article by Pew Research Center, recent international test scores placed the U.S. 38th out of 71 developed countries in math and 24th in science! Even in humanities sections, which happens to be our strength, we finished only 8th in the world. Quite frankly, this is woeful! Our academic struggles are going unnoticed, and the American education system is adapting too slowly. We need to catch up to the rest of the developing world.
There are many reasons as to why our schools are less effective than foreign schools. For example, we have far too many dropouts who disregard the value of education. Also, there is a large variety in the quality of educational institutions. Parents in America only want their kids to attend schools which are “right” for them, not giving credit to any of the others.
To really understand where we are lacking, we can turn to foreign countries that have raised the bar in education. South Korea and Finland are two perfect examples, as they each represent the gains in education Asia and Europe have achieved.
South Korea, for many years, was in turmoil due to conflicts with its Northern neighbor. However, after recovering from its hardships, it has taken a massive turn for the better. According to idea.ted.com, South Korea is at the forefront of international comparative tests. On top of that, the country has reached the remarkable feat of having a 100% literate population. To a large extent, these achievements have been reached because of Korean beliefs in hard work, high expectations, and competitiveness. Students in Korea undergo relentless pressure and stress to top their classes, understanding that short term struggles will result in long term gains. Also, because of their culture, Korean teachers are motivated to share their knowledge with their students. It isn’t money which speaks in South Korea but passion.
Finland, on the other hand, is modeling their education based on students learning the values of both rigor and flexibility. School days are relatively short, but students participate in very challenging classes. The challenging work is fueled by Finland’s desire to become noticed, as it has always been trapped between European superpowers. Because the population in Finland is homogenous, it is easier for teachers to cater to everyone’s needs. To limit stress, Finnish people also recognize the importance of extracurricular activities. Students are extremely well-rounded and learn many skills that are useful for them when they are older. As a result of such an admirable school system, Finland is ranked number one in the world for education quality. What an incredible achievement for a country people hardly recognize!
In conclusion, America still has a long way to go in order to match the effectiveness of the education systems of other countries. The government has been doing its best, increasing education expenditures to, hopefully, make a difference. However, in order to show to the rest of the world that we are competitive in education, it is the students who have to stand up. Instead of complaining about a heavy workload or being a laggard when it comes to homework, students must continue learning and persevering, keeping in mind what remarkable efforts students from other countries are displaying.

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