If the USA doesn’t rank highest in education league tables what does that tell us about education?

Gregory Ferenstein writing in TechCrunch asserts that:

The United States is the “dominant economic and innovative force in the world”.

and that:

During that time the United States has never ranked at the top of international education comparisons.

Therefore:

“schools don’t prepare students for the real world”

I couldn’t get my head around that at first but then I realised I was reading it as “schools fail at preparing students for the real world” but it was written as “it’s not schools that prepare students for the real world”.

That’s a big mind flip.

Before going further, there’s an obvious but implicit caveat to Ferenstein’s comments: he is talking about ‘the real world’ as tech-focused industry in the USA.

How could it be that the USA has dominated if this is the case? Ferenstein notes a couple of things, including the reliance of the tech industry in the USA on overseas educated talent (like me…) and the relatively high performance of the best students.

Maybe it’s also that the things measured for the international comparisons aren’t the same as the things that are needed to build and sustain a vibrant science and technology sector?

Worth a  read; and a ponder.

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A year on: purpose

A year (and a bit) after starting this journey I’ve been reflecting a little on the purpose of it all.

It comes down to this:

Is the education system designed around the right set of outcomes?

Where the definition of *right* depends on who your are and where you are coming from.

If the outcomes that the system is optimised and funded for aren’t the right ones, then:

What should those outcomes be and how should we construct a system that delivers on them?

and for me as an aspiring educator:

Where do I add value in today’s system?

Where could I add value in a new education system, fit for the needs of students in the UK in 201x?

Do I try and change/influence the system from within or without?

I’m using this post to collect links to resources that I’ve been using to think and reflect on the above. (And as a holding pen so I can clear my mind a little to focus on the learning to teach bit.)

Purpos/ed

Kick starting the debate on “the purpose of education”.

A Whole New Mind

Dan Pink’s book on the future of society and the need for education to encompass all aspects of human nature: artistic, intuitive, big-picture in addition to linear, logical, sequential, analytical.

Stop Stealing Dreams

Seth Godin’s look at education from the perspective of the changes that the massively connected internet has brought to other industries and how education might look if it focused on, and succeeded at delivering on, all of the following objectives and not just the last…

To create a society that’s culturally coordinated.

To further science and knowledge and pursue information for its own sake.

To enhance civilization while giving people the tools to make informed
decisions.

To train people to become productive workers.

The Shift: the future of work is already here

Lynda Gratton looks at how trends in globalization, society, demography, technology, and energy are changing ‘the future of work’ with the implications for education (or the implications if you assume the purpose of education is preparation for work). Includes evidence to support many of the assertions made by Pink.

Changing Education Paradigms

An animated version of (Sir) Ken Robinson’s (classic?) speech on education and society.

The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

A report summarising a collaborative look at the impact on institutions from the changes in technology that enable ‘shared, interactive, learning.  (Part of a series from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning)

Rework

A collection of observations and reflections on what was needed to build, run, and grow a business in the highly connected and scaled world enabled by the internet today. Based on the experiences of 37signals building things like Basecamp.

The Spirit Level

Why more equal societies are better for *everyone* than less equal societies. Kind of a foundation for thinking about the rest.

Nudge

Most people think this blog is outstanding.

But, just because the government are looking at it, doesn’t mean we should discount it (behavioural science that is).

Future of Ed

US site focused on the Future of Education. A subproject of KnowledgeWorks, a US organisation that supports schools across the states.