Many of the highest performing countries, in terms of school performance, have classrooms that are akin to an American classroom in the 1960’s — rows of desks, little distraction, one teacher and a chalkboard at the front of the room.
The Apple-like classroom of the future (clean lines and lots of technology) is, shockingly, not desirable when it comes to school performance. So what factors do aid in student performance?
So how to explain that these old-fashioned classrooms tend to crank out kids who possess far more of the math and science skills valued by modern-day employers? For one thing, while the American school day can be as short as six hours, Korean kids attend school about eight or nine hours a day—and then many of them continue studying alone or with tutors until late into the night. Korean parents also put enormous pressure on kids to study. […]
Around the world, countries have found a variety of ways to make schools work—even for poor kids or immigrant kids. They spend less money per pupil than we do but distribute it more efficiently and more equitably. More importantly perhaps, school systems in Singapore, Finland, and Korea recruit 100 percent of their teachers from the top one-third of their academic cohort, according to a 2010 McKinsey & Co. report, “Closing the Talent Gap.”In the United States, about 23 percent of new teachers—and only 14 percent in high-poverty schools—come from the top one-third. “It is a remarkably large difference in approach, and in results,” the report concludes.
It seems to me that there’s more respect for education, teachers and learning in other countries than there is in America. We need to approach education and learning as if it’s a job for kids. Eight hours per day, lots of variation, arts, physical fitness, math, science and language arts. And instead of going to school 180 days out of the year, it needs to be bumped up. School should be year-round with more breaks scattered throughout.