Jan 212011

When an instructional day is relatively short (about 5 hours per day), after-school activities are very important. In Finland, there is a specific national strategy to address out-of-school time.

I’m so *tired* of all the comparisons of other nations’ school systems to those in the USA. Don’t people get it? The USA’s entire democratic and governmental make up cannot be compared to any others, because there is no other country in the world that operates a democracy the way the USA does! Every other country that people desperately look to for “solutions” or “take-away lessons” has some kind of unified nationalism going on — something which does not exist in the USA because of the unique power given to the individual states — something Americans seem very proud of and eager to point out at any given opportunity. The United States are not united!

The USA is also not a socialist democracy. Education, therefore, is NOT regarded the same way as it is going to be regarded in socialist or… (gasp!) communist countries. By virtue of being capitalist, it is nearly impossible to espouse the same values about education as a communist or socialist country — the philosophies just do not align.

So please can we stop with the “Let’s-Look-to-This-Country’s-National-System-To-See-What-We-Can-Do-Better” posts? The USA is not a country with a homogenous population. It’s not a country where citizens pay upwards of 40% in federal taxes. It’s not a country where national needs trump state needs. It’s not a country where the common good trumps the individual good (hell naw!). In my opinion, looking to countries where all of these things exist will do little good at solving the bigger problems of education in the USA. The solutions involve either thinking very creatively about the current situation in the USA – and applying different strategies to each state, or to change the entire country’s philosophy and move to something more socialist, nationalist, and unifying… and we all know *that* last option ain’t gonna happen.

Can you *imagine* if someone at the US DoE pushed forward a “specific national strategy to address out-of-school time? Can you imagine how people would react?

Jan 262010

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