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We've done crap again in the international education league.

(201 Posts)
mrswarbouys Tue 03-Dec-13 13:08:47

Leading to lots of talk on radio today with politicians spouting their lofty rhetoric and pointless statistics. What I'd like to know is what do people believe could be the reason why we're doing so badly?

BraveMerida Tue 03-Dec-13 13:27:20

I don't get it. Overseas in U.A.E. and Malaysia the british curriculum is highly rated and locals (and expats) pay an arm and a leg to send their children to the prestigious British Curriculum international can be that bad...
Perhaps they have a very narrow criteria for the league do you measure creativity and critical/free thinking for example.

Also, in Asia they have a very strong tutor culture and high pressure environment focused on exams....Not sure it's a good thing to join them in this game.

acorntree Tue 03-Dec-13 13:37:27

Agree with BM -
Did you see the article about 20 hour school days in S.Korea
That's not what I would want for my child.

We also need to teach creativity if we are to foster innovation
in the future. That is harder to measure in tests.

acorntree Tue 03-Dec-13 13:38:15

mrswarbouys Tue 03-Dec-13 13:38:17

There was a Korean child on the radio this morning who claims to work at her school work until 2 am and is up a 6 am to start all over again.

Perhaps the people in U.A.E etc, like the look of the U.K curriculum as it tries to treat kids as individuals with individual needs and skills? My SIL is French and she tells me that although French kids have a pretty miserable time at school. Whilst they do a little better academically than UK schools. Their's are all about Maths, literacy, bit of science and not much else.

mrswarbouys Tue 03-Dec-13 13:39:29

There it is - thanks acorntree. Horrifying..

spottyturtle Tue 03-Dec-13 13:45:08

Also, I work in a university. Typically students who have been educated in Asian countries and come to join us as postgraduates are very good on paper, work very hard, and very good at doing what they are told, but struggle with the outside-of-the-box thinking that you need for independent research.

Talkinpeace Tue 03-Dec-13 13:51:27

There are lies, damned lies and statistics.

500,000 pupils in "65 countries and local administrations"

which 7700 pupils did they choose from England?
probably a representative sample
whereas other countries accidentally picked their best areas

"China" did well because it EXCLUDED the results from the whole country except Shanghai and Hong Kong

so maybe England should only be measured based on NW1 hmm

and FFS we beat the USA by ten places - the most powerful nation on earth.

BraveMerida Tue 03-Dec-13 13:54:50

Well then, let them wear their emporor's new clothes...

stargirl1701 Tue 03-Dec-13 13:57:15

Most countries exclude all children with any ASN from the statistics. I know Scotland does not. Most countries do not have inclusion. I know Scotland does (for better or for worse). The children attend school for different durations of time. Parents (not all) in Scotland prioritise happiness over academic progress.

They aren't comparing like with like. I was very surprised when a child from my class (mainstream) went to Sweden and was moved into a special school. Scandinavia is lauded but they clearly have a different approach to inclusion.

OneLittleToddleTerror Tue 03-Dec-13 14:03:09

I'm from Hong Kong and I can understand why East Asia does very well. The youth has a very different culture. Doing well at school is seen as the right thing to do. My secondary school cousin is on my Facebook friends list and he regularly has updates about studying with his friends, wanting to go to law schools, participating in the school's debating team and mini UN. Being 'cool' in the British youth kind of way is seen as a loser behaviour.

Not everyone does 20 hours of schooling. It's more like a full day adult day's work.

Until we culture of non-achievement in the UK, we won't be able to compete with East Asia academically.

However, I also agree with spottyturtle that East Asia's culture does not celebrate creativity. Obedience and do as you are told is seen as a good thing.

I always like to show this to people who ask about this

Can you imagine teachers being celebrated like this in the UK?

Shootingatpigeons Tue 03-Dec-13 14:03:22

For all the reasons above I found the OECD's man's unquestioning praise for the Shanghai system mind boggling in itself. Those in Shanghai who can afford it send their DCs to schools in western countries or International Schools to escape the "intensively competitive meritocracy" that rests heavily on a tradition of valuing rote learning over critical or creative thinking. It is certainly not a system I would want for my daughters, and I have lived there.

I am also very hmm about how these tests of literacy work. Apparently they translate the questions but how does this account for cultural bias. Mandarin and Cantonese rely on a knowledge of thousands of characters but are fairly straightforward structurally, in terms of grammar and tenses. Finnish is I gather written as it is spoken so translation of these languages is itself an art rather than a Science. That is before we come to the organic (shall we say) way in which the Shanghai results may have been arrived at.

Still what Shanghai and Finland have in common is that teachers are members of a respected profession and the education professionals left to do their job. They are also unlikely to be described as lefty Maoists when they disagreed with politicians, or at least if they were it would not be meant in a derogatory fashion grin

CecilyP Tue 03-Dec-13 14:22:53

so maybe England should only be measured based on NW1

What she said!

I don't think we did so much 'crap' as the OP states, more a kind of average. If we did exactly the same as 3 years ago, did we stagnate or did we maintain our position? Even if we improve our education, moving up the table would still depend on other countries failing to make similar improvements. Is it so bad to be no 26 in maths, between France and whatever country, unnamed in the link article, came 27th? I don't see a similar table for reading or science. Also, in these tables once you disregard the outliers at the top, the actual marks gained by the countries from about 10th to 30th are really very similar.

There are also other variables such as different approaches to inclusion as mentioned above. Then, I would imagine that in some countries young people approached these tests as if their lives depended on it whereas in others a far more laid back approach was taken.

YesIam Tue 03-Dec-13 14:29:27

All of you are making sense.
Why do we want to be higher in that list at the cost of childhood, well rounded creative individuals and family life? Apart from the fact that we are talking about a difference of 99% China and 93% UK... Am I right? That's just a ridiculous difference. Who takes this test? What's the population sample? And why does the media care so much?
Agggg I hate I hate I hate league tables.

pointyfangs Tue 03-Dec-13 14:58:54

The UK improved its score in maths and reading - that's good. They did slightly worse in science - that's not good.

That is really the only thing we should be looking at; how is the UK doing compared to itself 3 years ago. The answer is - not great, not disastrous. Meanwhile other countries are catching up - why are we surprised when many have started from a low base?

I'd also like to have a really good look at the points spread as opposed to the raw rankings, that is much more useful data. And as has been pointed out, the rankings do not compare like with like - translation issues and the exclusion of SN/certain geographical areas all distort the results.

I'm all for improving education, we can and should strive to do better, but it should not be driven by league tables like this one. And if South Korea's educational success brings with it South Korea's suicide rate then I say thanks, but no thanks.

monet3 Tue 03-Dec-13 15:07:49

Brave, the education at those British schools in the UAE is awful. People pay an arm and a leg for nothing IMO bMost parents I know have put their children into boarding schools in the UK, US or Europe.

I believe we dont do as well as other countries in the league tables because the UK is not made up of indigenous population. We have a large number of non Brits in our education system they pull the figures down as do the brits who think its not cool to learn.

ivykaty44 Tue 03-Dec-13 15:19:25

we did not do crap -we did better and so what if we are middle of the road and improving, the press try's hard to con people into thinking we did worse.

Japan has 3x the suicide rate of the uk and it was high in high school students back in the late 80's in Singapore, I don't want that type of pressure for our teens

pointyfangs Tue 03-Dec-13 15:34:49

I was listening to a brief interview with one of the people behind the survey - he pointed out that there had been no change in the gap in educational achievement within the UK and that I think is key - we live in a very, very unequal country. Until that is addressed we are not going to see sustained improvement in our scores.

What I found interesting is that Sweden, with its Gove-worshipped for profit Free Schools, has now slipped below the UK.

Talkinpeace Tue 03-Dec-13 15:55:43

bearing in mind that the students in each of the areas
- did NOT answer the same questions
- the 2000 data set was withdrawn by PISA as they admitted it was too small to be statistically significant
- pupils in all areas and countries are not selected on the same basis
- India did not take part this time
- not all children answer all the questions
- parental questionnaires are used to filter whose data was used hmm
etc etc

it all rather starts to stink to me.

mrswarbouys Tue 03-Dec-13 16:02:33

I didn't mean I believe we are crap. Rather in the eyes of the media and those that care about statistical categories such as this (which I do not) we are crap... I should have used " ".
BTW don't Asian countries teach maths with the Abacus? I've heard that is a far better way to learn maths than our way..

pointyfangs Tue 03-Dec-13 16:05:54

OP, an abacus is a useful visual way of teaching place value, which is one of the foundations of maths skills. There are others - my DDs learned place value visually in the first instance, the abstract came later. It's a good method and it is used in schools in the UK too.

What we need to watch out for is people (like Michael Gove) who believe that learning mathematical operations by rote without underlying understanding is the way to go. That way lies madness.

pointyfangs Tue 03-Dec-13 16:06:25

Talkinpeace that is shocking information. Then again we all know that there are lies, damned lies and statistics...

CaroBeaner Tue 03-Dec-13 16:09:25

monet "We have a large number of non Brits in our education system they pull the figures down"

And yet on another thread you are worrying that your DD will be kept out of a copmpetitive 6th form by the superior results of 'chinese girls'.

The news last night was full of rhetoric about how the government can only look on in envy at the results of Korea etc. Do we really envy a country where it is usual for families to send chidren to a private school for a second full day's worth of study once they leave school? And work in a regime which leads to an extremely high suicide rate? And results in highly drilled but non-innovative thinkers as described on thios thread?

I really, really do not evy any of this.

Lets improve the education available in this country, let's make sure that all our young people fulfill their own potential. Let's make sure they are able to follow a curriculum which fits the needs and opportinities of the modern world. But please, not in the footsteps of the countries at the top of this spurious league.

Talkinpeace Tue 03-Dec-13 16:14:48

We have a large number of non Brits in our education system they pull the figures down
Um no.
Statistically the highest achievers are Asian Chinese and Asian subcontinent and then the whites .... even the ones at private schools

OneLittleToddleTerror Tue 03-Dec-13 16:19:56

monet3 We have a large number of non Brits in our education system they pull the figures down I remember reading some report saying that chinese and indian (i.e. non muslim asians) perform the best in school. Just as what talkinpeace says.

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