Compare and Contrast

When I was still teaching math we were told year after year that American schools, teachers and kids didn’t measure up in math and science (and probably other subjects) to those in other countries, Germany among them. That’s why I found a recent CNN article very interesting. It seems that the German people aren’t very happy with their school system.

Some of the problems noted in the article – a 4-1/2 hour school day in secondary schools, no attendance taken, etc. – are pretty obvious reasons for kids not learning what they need to. But this is the real problem:

The system reaped praise after World War II for turning out fine shipbuilders and metalworkers. But such vocational training is out of step with the modern and more flexible needs of service-oriented or technical professions.

The German educational system is designed for needs and a society that no longer exists. Sort of like an educational system that is much closer to home. Even though they’ve taken a long time to wake up the problem, the German government seems willing to change the basic structure of their schools in order to bring about the necessary improvements.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s government has responded by pledging $4 billion over the next five years to create all-day programs for elementary and secondary schools, improve teacher training and revamp classwork to encourage skills instead of rote learning.

"Encourage skills instead of rote learning", "improve teacher training". Wouldn’t it be nice if our government were willing to emphasize those kinds of improvements instead of more testing and other superficial alterations?