Smart enough?

Teachers valued most in China

Teachers aren’t valued highly in 21 countries in the Varkey GEMS Foundation’s Global Teacher Status Index. China ranks first in respect for teachers. The U.S. is about average. Israel is last. Except for China, high status for teachers doesn’t correlate with high academic performance. Greece and Turkey respect their teachers, but post low scores on international tests. The Japanese are low on teacher status, high in test scores.

Status isn’t linked to salaries. In Greece the status of teachers is high, but their compensation is low. In Germany and Switzerland, teacher earnings are relatively high, respect is low.

The Chinese compare teachers to doctors. Americans see teachers as similar to librarians. In most countries surveyed, teachers are equated with social workers. However, in France and Turkey, they’re seen as most like nurses.

teacher status findings

Pay-for-performance is supported strongly just about everywhere, notes John Merrow of Learning Matters TV. In the U.S., 80 percent said teachers should be “rewarded in pay according to their pupils’ results.”

While most people said teachers should be paid more, they didn’t know how much teachers earn. Americans think “teachers make about $36,000 a year but believe they should paid about $40,000,” writes Merrow. “However, the true average salary, the study says, is $46,000.”

Would you want your child to be a public school teacher? A third of Americans would “probably” or “definitely” encourage their child to become a teacher. That’s higher than in 14 other countries. Half of Chinese, but only 8 percent of Israelis, would urge their children to consider teaching. I always thought Finns were high on their teachers, but only 20 percent said they’d want their own kids to be one in this survey.

If there are any Finns — and Israelis — reading, does this ring true?

In Asian schools, boys behave

School boys in China, South Korea and Taiwan aren’t more disruptive than girls, while there’s a large gender gap in behavior in the U.S., according to a University of Pittsburgh study.  Yet U.S., Korean and Taiwanese teachers see girls as better behaved, notes Ed Week.

Cherry-picking isn’t just for fruit anymore

 Cherry-picking: It Isn’t Just For Fruit Anymore, reports Students Last, a satirical site.

Philadelphia – Global Alliance Charter School is scrambling today to respond to questions from the School District of Philadelphia about its complicated and some say overbearing application process.

The application, which is more than 10-pages in length, requires  a 3,000-word essay, responses to 20 short-answer questions, proof of citizenship for the child and parents, three recommendations, and an interview. Additionally, parents of Global applicants have to complete a lengthy obstacle course which includes:  outrunning a pack of wild dogs, scaling an 8-foot fence, bench pressing their own body weight and trying to stay awake while watching, “Won’t Back Down” (a movie about turning a public school into a charter school).

Meanwhile, The Onion (also satire) reports that Chinese third graders have fallen behind U.S. high school students in math and science on international tests.

“This is certainly a wake-up call for China,” said Dr. Michael Fornasier, an IEA senior fellow and coauthor of the report. “Simply put, how can these third-graders be expected to eventually compete in the global marketplace if they’re only receiving the equivalent of a U.S. high school education?”

“The majority of Chinese third-graders are now a full year behind the average U.S. 12th-grader in their knowledge of calculus,” The Onion reports. In addition, third graders in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland and New Guinea have fallen behind U.S. 12th-graders in physics.

In more satirical news, a new federal law will set C- as the minimum grade in schools across the country. Some argue this is too low: California now requires a minimum grade of B+.

Slow learning

Jen Li, who grew up in China during the violently anti-intellectual Cultural Revolution, has spent her academic career in the U.S. “trying to understand how Asians and Westerners think about learning,” writes New York Times columnist David Brooks in The Learning Virtues.

Westerners see learning as “something people do in order to understand and master the external world,” Li believes. “Asians tend to see learning as an arduous process they undertake in order to cultivate virtues inside the self.”

In the Western understanding, students come to school with levels of innate intelligence and curiosity. Teachers try to further arouse that curiosity in specific subjects. There’s a lot of active learning — going on field trips, building things. There’s great emphasis on questioning authority, critical inquiry and sharing ideas in classroom discussion.

In the Chinese understanding, there’s less emphasis on innate curiosity or even on specific subject matter. Instead, the learning process itself is the crucial thing. The idea is to perfect the learning virtues in order to become, ultimately, a sage, which is equally a moral and intellectual state. These virtues include: sincerity (an authentic commitment to the task) as well as diligence, perseverance, concentration and respect for teachers.

Westerners stress the “aha moment of sudden insight,” while Chinese respect “the arduous accumulation of understanding.” (It reminds me of the “slow food” movement.) Of course, Chinese wouldn’t think of teasing nerds, if they had such a concept. “Western schools want students to be proud of their achievements, while the Chinese emphasize that humility enables self-examination,” Brooks writes.

Brooks wonders if the U.S. can find “moral/academic codes” to motivate our students. Could we add a dash of Confucianism (he also likes Jewish Torah study) to our culture?

Educated but jobless in China

In the U.S., employment rises with education. In Chinese cities,  young college graduates are four times as likely to be unemployed as those with an elementary education. Why? Graduates want “clean” office jobs and won’t risk their status by taking factory work, even though it pays more. As in the U.S., vocational training is considered low status.

China invests in college

China is spending $250 billion a year to send tens of millions of young people to community colleges and universities. China has quadrupled the number of college graduates in the last decade.

Thirty states will boost higher education spending this year, but overall state higher ed spending is down 0.4 percent after sliding nearly 11 percent in five years.

U.S. students fall behind China, monkeys

U.S. High School Students Falling Behind China, Many Animals In Basic Object Permanence, reports The Onion, a satirical publication.

What the Chinese are studying

University enrollment has soared by 30 percent in China in recent years, but graduates are having trouble finding jobs, reports Online Colleges. “It’s estimated that one-third of China’s 5.6 million 2008 graduates were unemployed during their first year after school.”

Information technology tops the list of The 10 Hottest College Majors in China. China produced half a million IT graduates in 2009, but  there are plenty of jobs for well-qualified IT grads.

In addition to electrical and mechanical engineering, medicine, accounting, architecture and business management, the top 10 include English (not many jobs, but it helps with study in the U.S.), journalism (way too many graduates for the jobs) and law (too many graduates.)

China and India rising

The Competition that Really Matters comes from China and India, argues the Center for American Progress.

While “the state of America’s children has improved dramatically in the last century,”  the U.S. advantage is eroding, the report warns.  ”Educational attainment and achievement gaps that track income and race groups have become more entrenched— and more worrisome.”

Meanwhile, China and India are investing in the next-gen workforce.