I love to read books about the impact of education, technology and careers.
I recently came across this book by Amanda Ripley, a New York Times writer. I highly recommend it for folks interested in our education system and the challenges we have ahead to compete in this global world.
This book describes four foreign nations and their high school education systems. It’s written from the perspective of students from the US that are studying abroad in their junior/senior year of high school. South Korea, Poland and Finland were a sample of the countries where kids were studying. Finland has been in the news re: their educational system and how strong it is.
There are a couple of key points that were takeaways as I read the book.
2) When children fall behind in Poland school, it is treated as part of the learning process. Failure in American schools is seen as demoralizing and is to be avoided.
3) No calculators are used in Poland, rather mental tricks to deployed manipulate numbers. In Korea, math is taught as a language.
3) Most American parents surveyed said that it was most important to finish High school with strong reading/writing skills than math and science.
4) 7 out of 10 kids in 8th grade go to US schools that don’t offer algebra content, standard in most other foreign countries.
5) Teacher training in Finland is very selective, a teaching career prestigious, akin to going to medical school in the US. Elementary and high school teachers are valued like college professors and paid much higher than their US counterparts.
As a technical recruiter I have a solid grasp of the careers that are in demand in today's market. Jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) require tough classes, good study habits, logic and reason, all of which are key to working in a world increasingly run by computers. The good news is that there are plenty of jobs in the STEM sector if you can tough out the curiculum (a B average is OK !). Our children need to know this and start plotting their future with careful course selection, along with relevant work experience. The reward should be a future of steady and well paying work opportunities.