Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

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yvonne meyer
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Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by yvonne meyer » Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:22 am

This fairly new interview with Zig is well worth reading & viewing in full.

Interview with Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

December 10, 2013

Siegfried Engelmann is the real thing, an educator who loves to teach children and knows how to do it, both personally and in his many books. As far back as the late 1960s, he told the Education Establishment: you’re doing it all wrong.

Engelmann takes a scientific approach. He believes you formulate programs, test them, revise them, and keep repeating this process until you get solutions that give you the greatest success in the ordinary classroom.

Q: As you look at the entire field of education, what is the one thing that most offends you?

A: The disconnect between what occurs in classrooms and the rhetoric that describes it. There is never enough attention to the technical details that have to be addressed to provide well-designed instruction.

Q: You coined the phrase “academic child abuse” about 20 years ago. Are those words still appropriate today?

A: Nothing has changed. There are no provisions for schools to keep track of what works. Instead, schools adopt technically backward procedures and programs. Kids fail. The school district learns nothing more than to blindly try something else, which is usually cloaked in sweet rhetoric but is technical nonsense.

Q: Are you following Common Core? What is your appraisal?

A: A perfect example of technical nonsense. A sensible organization would rely heavily on data about procedures used to achieve outstanding results; and they would certainly field test the results to assure that the standards resulted in fair, achievable goals? How many of these things did they do? None.

Q: Reflect for a moment on official excuses. Rudolf Flesch wrote a chapter called “The Ten Alibis.” What are the big whoppers today?

A: The biggest one is that if kids have reasonable attendance and fail, the kids, their parent, and the home are responsible. No, the school is the designated agency for instructing kids and should be held accountable. Usually, it is not difficult to show the failure was caused by faulty instruction and lack of response to evidence that the kids were in trouble.

Q: There was a time, 1968-1977, when your ideas were thoroughly tested and they won overwhelmingly (see photo and caption). But they were ignored. Was that the biggest disappointment?

A: It was pretty devastating. From the beginning of Project Follow Through, there was the promise that the models of instruction that performed best would be disseminated by the feds. We won every category, but the feds changed the rules and didn’t disseminate any information—and even denied that there were any winners. That was after we worked with our schools for ten years.

Q: Do most people think of you as the creator of Direct Instruction?

A: Not many people know what Direct Instruction is. The only program that is selling well and that continues to have high ratings is Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. On Amazon.com it has over 1000 reviews, most highly favorable. Even though the Direct Instruction programs we developed have strong data of effectiveness, they account for less than 2% of school sales.

Q: Now my sense is that you engaged in an heroic battle with the Education Establishment. How do you view that battle now?

A: We lost at every turn. We have not been able to influence decision-makers to treat instruction of kids and training of teachers as technical enterprises that feed on data.

Q: The other day I was reading about Blouke Carus and his battle with the Education Establishment. I have written about John Saxon’s battle. Flesch waged a long, often sad battle. Samuel Blumenfeld is still battling. My sense is that all the best people in education, such as yourself, came from outside. Is that true? How do you explain it?

A: To receive a traditional graduate degree in education is to receive a makeover that places great emphasis on broad brush strokes, with virtually no regard for the specific realities that face teachers and kids in the classroom. You could take nearly any heavily degreed person into a classroom where horrific instruction was being committed. If the teacher seemed moderate and the kids seemed engaged, the observer would not be able to list any of many technical details that made the teaching a disaster.

Q: Let’s talk about the big secrets that the average parent needs to know.

A: How the system works and what would have to change to make it more closely aligned with its rhetoric. For example, the system knows only what the current game plan is. The system adopts instructional programs and practices that have never been tried out on a small scale—like the Common Core standards. The same is true of many instructional programs. They are adopted, then tried out for the first time. That is completely backward.

Q: What is the second most unpleasant secret about education?

A: Probably the lack of proper preparation that future teachers receive in college. It is largely big-picture orientations with almost no emphasis on technical skills that make a difference in the classroom.

Q: With regard to reading, do you see improvement or are you pessimistic?

A: I’ve told several districts that if they turned management of their lowest-performing schools over to someone (like me) who has knowledge of how to change it, these schools could be totally successful in three years. That holds for reading and all other subjects. I’ve never had a taker, so I’m pessimistic about the depth of their concern with failed teachers and kids.

Q: My own sense is that sight-words are still a curse on the country. How do you see it?

A: If a school looked at student failure as failure of the school to teach, sight-words would have been removed from reading instruction before 1950.

Q: If you could issue a warning to this country, what would it be?

A: Recognize that schools do some very destructive things. They use “discovery” math. The formula is to give kids math problems without systematically teaching what they need to solve the problem. If the number of tears a kid produces is a rough measure of how inhumane the practice is, it’s ruthless. What kids learn from failure is simply that they are failures (and they hate math). Teach your kids how to solve these problems.

Q: My own sense is that education is a gloomy field and that some very corrupt people seem determined to make it worse, even as they tell us what a wonderful job they are doing. Can you give some reasons why I’m wrong and we should be optimistic?

A: No!
………………………………………………………………………………………………….…....
In the video of Engelmann teaching (below), you see a small group of children learning math. Note their enthusiasm and confidence. That is Engelmann’s World.

Compare what you see in this video with a recent headline: “Principals say Common Core tests make little kids vomit, pee their pants.” That is the world wrought by our Education Establishment.

http://www.examiner.com/article/intervi ... -educators

or see www.zigsite.com

Yvonne say's: Please note that Englemann is criticising the US Common Core State Standards;
State education chiefs and governors in 48 states came together to develop the Common Core, a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Today, 44 states have voluntarily adopted and are working to implement the standards, which are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to take credit bearing introductory courses in two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.
and not the work of Core Knowledge Foundation founded by ED Hirsch, link below;

http://www.coreknowledge.org/

I think Elsiep confuses these two in other threads.

elsiep
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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by elsiep » Fri Apr 18, 2014 4:32 am

yvonne meyer wrote:
Yvonne say's: Please note that Englemann is criticising the US Common Core State Standards


and not the work of Core Knowledge Foundation founded by ED Hirsch, link below;

http://www.coreknowledge.org/

I think Elsiep confuses these two in other threads.
I am aware of the difference Yvonne. If you read what I've said elsewhere you'll note that I was criticising Hirsch's understanding of psychology and of science, not his Core Knowledge sequence. I must confess not to have read it all through, but I have looked through it and I was impressed. Less so with the UK version.

I still have reservations about a detailed curriculum being taught only by direct instruction - it assumes knowledge is more clear-cut than it is.

elsiep

kenm
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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by kenm » Fri Apr 18, 2014 9:06 am

elsiep wrote:I still have reservations about a detailed curriculum being taught only by direct instruction - it assumes knowledge is more clear-cut than it is.
I agree. A detailed curriculum should be a promise that examination results will not usually depend upon knowledge that falls outside it, but it can no longer consist of everything that is worth knowing.* How it is inculcated is something that should vary throughout education. Universities expect much subject knowledge, especially in the arts, to be acquired by reading. Direct instruction is most important in the early stages of acquiring the fundamental skills of literacy and numeracy.

* Robert Graves felt that he belonged in the early 19th C., when he reckoned that a well-educated person could know all that was worth knowing of what was known. I think that was already too late by several millennia. Nowadays a student of sciences at A-level will need to know about discoveries in the sciences that have occurred during his/her lifetime.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

yvonne meyer
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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by yvonne meyer » Fri Apr 18, 2014 11:41 pm

I am aware of the difference Yvonne. If you read what I've said elsewhere you'll note that I was criticising Hirsch's understanding of psychology and of science,
Then surely you should be discussing your concerns about Hirsch's understanding of psychology and science on a psychology & science forum where people who specialise in psychology & science can engage with you in a meaningful way? Why choose the Reading Reform forum to discuss psychology & science when few of us have deep knowledge of this subject?
... not his Core Knowledge sequence. I must confess not to have read it all through, but I have looked through it and I was impressed. Less so with the UK version.
Is the "UK version" based on Hirsch's Core Knowledge or on the US Blob's Common Core?
I still have reservations about a detailed curriculum being taught only by direct instruction - it assumes knowledge is more clear-cut than it is.
Do you have the same reservations about constructivist (non-direct, non-explicit, non-intensive, non-systematic, non-teacher-directed) strategies?

The opposite of the "detailed curriculum" that concerns you is what we in Australia call Outcomes Based Education, which, according to the Blob's rhetoric, places emphasis on what students are expected to know and do at the end of their period of instruction and expects individual teachers to design and implement content as they go. Does this give you equal concern?

From our old PLATOWA friends;
the "National Curriculum" folk at ACARA [Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority] have deviated from their straightforward K-10 Achievement Standards. Instead they have developed nebulous "assessment standards" rubrics for the senior years 11-12 that bear a remarkable similarity to the utterly discredited "levelling" attempted in Western Australia's failed OBE experiment.

Indeed, they look suspiciously like the maligned Queensland criteria-standards rubrics (or grids or "matrices"), which are essentially HOTS [Higher Order Thinking Skills]. Such has been the effect of Queensland's higher-order thinking tasks and ambiguous testing standards in years 11-12, that Queensland is now the number-one school drop-out state!

Australia is already lagging in international tests. One can only wonder at the effect of testing year 11-12 subjects via the vague "standards" published in December 2012 by ACARA.

Is Australia once again going down the same path of adopting yet another fad that has already been discredited and discarded overseas?
Since direct/explicit teaching of detailed content concerns you so much, perhaps you can explain why Singapore (most schools teach in English) outperforms the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia, when they use direct, explicit, teacher-directed instruction that follows a detailed curriculum?

Can you explain why in Singapore, top performers come equally from all socio-economic levels, and why Singapore does not have the long tail of under-achievement that exists in the countries mentioned above?

yvonne meyer
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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by yvonne meyer » Sat Apr 19, 2014 12:02 am

Since the Blob's rhetoric about constructivist teaching & learning strategies is that it teaches students to be creative problem-solvers, how do you explain the following, since Singpore & Korea use direct/explicit, teacher directed (not so-called child-centred) instruction based on a detailed curriculum;
Students from Singapore and Korea have performed best in the OECD PISA first assessment of creative problem-solving. Students in these countries are quick learners, highly inquisitive and able to solve unstructured problems in unfamiliar contexts.
http://www.oecd.org/pisa/aboutpisa/

elsiep
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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by elsiep » Sat Apr 19, 2014 5:20 am

yvonne meyer wrote:
I am aware of the difference Yvonne. If you read what I've said elsewhere you'll note that I was criticising Hirsch's understanding of psychology and of science,
Then surely you should be discussing your concerns about Hirsch's understanding of psychology and science on a psychology & science forum where people who specialise in psychology & science can engage with you in a meaningful way? Why choose the Reading Reform forum to discuss psychology & science when few of us have deep knowledge of this subject?
Hirsch has been frequently cited, with approval, on this forum. I've never noticed anyone picking up on his view of consensus in science. It doesn't take a 'deep knowledge' to be familiar with Semmelweis' sad case and to know that it was an outcome of scientific consensus being wrong.
... not his Core Knowledge sequence. I must confess not to have read it all through, but I have looked through it and I was impressed. Less so with the UK version.
Is the "UK version" based on Hirsch's Core Knowledge or on the US Blob's Common Core?
It's based on the Core Knowledge sequence. Or at least it purports to be. It has a trademark. http://www.coreknowledge.org.uk/sequence.php I got as far as the Kings, Queens and Prime Ministers in Y1 history & geography and wondered where the 'sequence' bit came in.
I still have reservations about a detailed curriculum being taught only by direct instruction - it assumes knowledge is more clear-cut than it is.
Do you have the same reservations about constructivist (non-direct, non-explicit, non-intensive, non-systematic, non-teacher-directed) strategies?
Yes. That's how I came across this forum in the first place.
The opposite of the "detailed curriculum" that concerns you is what we in Australia call Outcomes Based Education, which, according to the Blob's rhetoric, places emphasis on what students are expected to know and do at the end of their period of instruction and expects individual teachers to design and implement content as they go. Does this give you equal concern?
It isn't an 'opposite' Yvonne. We don't simply have a choice between one or the other. I have no problem per se with teachers being expected to design and implement content. They are supposed to be professionals, after all. My concern would be with the quality of their training. In England, I can't think of any time when all teachers were professionally qualified, and the quality of training has often been awful.
From our old PLATOWA friends;
the "National Curriculum" folk at ACARA [Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority] have deviated from their straightforward K-10 Achievement Standards. Instead they have developed nebulous "assessment standards" rubrics for the senior years 11-12 that bear a remarkable similarity to the utterly discredited "levelling" attempted in Western Australia's failed OBE experiment.

Indeed, they look suspiciously like the maligned Queensland criteria-standards rubrics (or grids or "matrices"), which are essentially HOTS [Higher Order Thinking Skills]. Such has been the effect of Queensland's higher-order thinking tasks and ambiguous testing standards in years 11-12, that Queensland is now the number-one school drop-out state!

Australia is already lagging in international tests. One can only wonder at the effect of testing year 11-12 subjects via the vague "standards" published in December 2012 by ACARA.

Is Australia once again going down the same path of adopting yet another fad that has already been discredited and discarded overseas?
Has the overall quality of education improved since England adopted a national curriculum? In some respects, possibly. In others probably not.
Since direct/explicit teaching of detailed content concerns you so much, perhaps you can explain why Singapore (most schools teach in English) outperforms the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia, when they use direct, explicit, teacher-directed instruction that follows a detailed curriculum?
I'm not concerned about either of those things. I explained what I was concerned about in the sentence in which you underlined some words, but apparently didn't read the others. "I still have reservations about a detailed curriculum being taught only by direct instruction - it assumes knowledge is more clear-cut than it is.
Can you explain why in Singapore, top performers come equally from all socio-economic levels, and why Singapore does not have the long tail of under-achievement that exists in the countries mentioned above?
If what matters to you is 'top performers', then fine, get the government to set the curriculum, directly instruct students in it and they'll probably come top in league tables. Has being top of league tables had a positive impact on quality of life in Singapore? To some extent. It's made Singapore economically competitive and its education is an important export. Would I want to live in Singapore? Well, no I wouldn't, because being top of educational league tables and economically competitive aren't the only important things in life. I'd rather live in sloppy old Finland, with its Scandinavian egalitarianism.

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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by john walker » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:59 pm

[quote]If what matters to you is 'top performers', then fine, get the government to set the curriculum, directly instruct students in it and they'll probably come top in league tables. Has being top of league tables had a positive impact on quality of life in Singapore? To some extent. It's made Singapore economically competitive and its education is an important export. Would I want to live in Singapore? Well, no I wouldn't, because being top of educational league tables and economically competitive aren't the only important things in life. I'd rather live in sloppy old Finland, with its Scandinavian egalitarianism.[quote]
I thin Niall Ferguson's response to this kind of thinking is instructive, Elsie:
'For every nineteen-year-old in Europe, there are a hundred nineteen-year-olds in East Asia working twice as hard, prepared to accept half the pay for the same job. That's the big difference between this generation of teenagers and my generation. It's tough out there and you can't expect a job for life without serious study and serious work. "http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katherine ... 53364.html
For a much better elaborated exposition of the kinds of problems faced by Western societies, Ferguson's 2012 Reith lectures were a masterclass in what's going wrong. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jmx0p
It's not a very popular message but if we don't face up to it, things are not going to go well for us here in Europe or the USA.
John Walker
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http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by yvonne meyer » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:00 am

If what matters to you is 'top performers', then fine, get the government to set the curriculum, directly instruct students in it and they'll probably come top in league tables. Has being top of league tables had a positive impact on quality of life in Singapore? To some extent. It's made Singapore economically competitive and its education is an important export. Would I want to live in Singapore? Well, no I wouldn't, because being top of educational league tables and economically competitive aren't the only important things in life. I'd rather live in sloppy old Finland, with its Scandinavian egalitarianism.
I was born in Singapore and lived there until I was 25. My father and his parents were also born in Singapore and lived there until they died.

Life for me in Singapore when I was very young meant being part of the highest echelon in a 'White Raj' society. We lived like kings and queens while the majority of the population lived in povety and without education. Then Singapore broke free of its British colonial master and in less then a generation, tranported itself from being a Third World to a First World country, and to being on top of the international education ladder.

Would I rather live in Australia or Singapore? For me, my husband is Australian so I chose Australia. Would I rather my son were educated in Singpore or in Australia? Anyone who knows a little of story would know why I say Singapore!

Yes, what matters to me is that my son should have been educated in a system that is a 'top performer'. What matters to me is that disadvantaged children, who do not have my son's advantages of coming from a middle class family with the money and knowledge to intervene when his school failed him, get a 'top performer' education.

Elsiep says;
Has being top of league tables had a positive impact on quality of life in Singapore?
Yes. Improvement in education improved the quality of life in Singapore. Education generated improvements in the standard of living, health and income for everyone, regardless of their inherited wealth, class, religion and race.

I don't understand why anyone would turn their nose up at these improvements. :shock:

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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by yvonne meyer » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:10 am

John quotes Niall Ferguson,
For every nineteen-year-old in Europe, there are a hundred nineteen-year-olds in East Asia working twice as hard, prepared to accept half the pay for the same job.
In Finland, there are a huge number of applicants for every place in Finnish Ed Schools, so competition to get a teaching qulification is intense. From memory, there is something like 1 teaching job for every 10 Ed School graduates. Becoming a teacher in Finland is intensly competative.

I can't speak for all of East Asia but Singpore has full employment. Singpore now has to import workers from other countries because there are not enough Singporeans to fill all the jobs.

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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by john walker » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:11 am

Well, Yvonne, you know what Ferguson recommended to his (I think, 18 yr old) son? He suggested that he might want to make his home in Hong Kong, where the rule of law appears to be stronger than it is in the USA!
Now that's putting his money where his mouth is. Mene mene tekel upharsin!
John Walker
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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by yvonne meyer » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:50 am

Elsiep says;
I'd rather live in sloppy old Finland, with its Scandinavian egalitarianism
Finland levies some of the highest taxes in the world, and has the highest suicide rate.

Finland's GDP in the 1990’s fell 13 percent in three years and unemployment climb to 17.9 percent.

Social spending has held steady, but services have not improved. The public health system is overcrowded with older Finns and pensions have risen by only 3 percent in real terms since 1993 - 10 times more slowly than wages.

"The cleavage between rich and poor is perhaps widening," says Jouko Kajanajo, the head of social research at the Social Security headquarters. "At any rate, the increase in equality has stopped."

elsiep
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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by elsiep » Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:35 am

john walker wrote:
If what matters to you is 'top performers', then fine, get the government to set the curriculum, directly instruct students in it and they'll probably come top in league tables. Has being top of league tables had a positive impact on quality of life in Singapore? To some extent. It's made Singapore economically competitive and its education is an important export. Would I want to live in Singapore? Well, no I wouldn't, because being top of educational league tables and economically competitive aren't the only important things in life. I'd rather live in sloppy old Finland, with its Scandinavian egalitarianism.
I thin Niall Ferguson's response to this kind of thinking is instructive, Elsie:

'For every nineteen-year-old in Europe, there are a hundred nineteen-year-olds in East Asia working twice as hard, prepared to accept half the pay for the same job. That's the big difference between this generation of teenagers and my generation. It's tough out there and you can't expect a job for life without serious study and serious work. "http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katherine ... 53364.html

For a much better elaborated exposition of the kinds of problems faced by Western societies, Ferguson's 2012 Reith lectures were a masterclass in what's going wrong. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jmx0p
It's not a very popular message but if we don't face up to it, things are not going to go well for us here in Europe or the USA.
One big difference between Ferguson's generation and the current one is that his parents could afford to send him to an independent school and even if he hadn't got a scholarship at Oxford, he would have been able to attend another university, fees paid by the taxpayer. Another big difference is that the economic success in East Asia doesn't appear to have done much for social and economic inequality. And there are jobs for the 19 year-olds even if they are (in Singapore) mainly in service industries and low paid. The situation in the UK is currently different as a direct result of irresponsibility in the banking sector. Blaming youth unemployment on the attitudes of young people or because they didn't work hard is school is simply letting the people responsible off the hook.

Ferguson is renowned for his lazy scholarship and speculative theories. He's obviously very capable, but doesn't seem to be setting a very good example to the younger generation.

elsiep

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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by elsiep » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:02 am

yvonne meyer wrote:
If what matters to you is 'top performers', then fine, get the government to set the curriculum, directly instruct students in it and they'll probably come top in league tables. Has being top of league tables had a positive impact on quality of life in Singapore? To some extent. It's made Singapore economically competitive and its education is an important export. Would I want to live in Singapore? Well, no I wouldn't, because being top of educational league tables and economically competitive aren't the only important things in life. I'd rather live in sloppy old Finland, with its Scandinavian egalitarianism.
I was born in Singapore and lived there until I was 25. My father and his parents were also born in Singapore and lived there until they died.

Life for me in Singapore when I was very young meant being part of the highest echelon in a 'White Raj' society. We lived like kings and queens while the majority of the population lived in povety and without education. Then Singapore broke free of its British colonial master and in less then a generation, tranported itself from being a Third World to a First World country, and to being on top of the international education ladder.

Would I rather live in Australia or Singapore? For me, my husband is Australian so I chose Australia. Would I rather my son were educated in Singpore or in Australia? Anyone who knows a little of story would know why I say Singapore!

Yes, what matters to me is that my son should have been educated in a system that is a 'top performer'. What matters to me is that disadvantaged children, who do not have my son's advantages of coming from a middle class family with the money and knowledge to intervene when his school failed him, get a 'top performer' education.

Elsiep says;
Has being top of league tables had a positive impact on quality of life in Singapore?
Yes. Improvement in education improved the quality of life in Singapore. Education generated improvements in the standard of living, health and income for everyone, regardless of their inherited wealth, class, religion and race.
The same could be said of anywhere. That's why most countries have education systems. I wasn't asking about the impact of education itself, but the impact of being at the top of league tables.
I don't understand why anyone would turn their nose up at these improvements. :shock:
I'm not turning my nose up at these improvements, I'm turning my nose up at an obsession with league tables. If everywhere had brilliant education systems, it wouldn't matter if you were no. 1, no. 5 or no. 20, your education system would still be brilliant.

elsiep

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Re: Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Post by elsiep » Sun Apr 20, 2014 7:21 am

yvonne meyer wrote:Elsiep says;
I'd rather live in sloppy old Finland, with its Scandinavian egalitarianism
Finland levies some of the highest taxes in the world, and has the highest suicide rate.
Presumably you think high taxes are a bad thing. And suicide rates tend to be high across high latitudes. More likely low light and vitamin D than social factors.
Finland's GDP in the 1990’s fell 13 percent in three years and unemployment climb to 17.9 percent.

Social spending has held steady, but services have not improved. The public health system is overcrowded with older Finns and pensions have risen by only 3 percent in real terms since 1993 - 10 times more slowly than wages.

"The cleavage between rich and poor is perhaps widening," says Jouko Kajanajo, the head of social research at the Social Security headquarters. "At any rate, the increase in equality has stopped."
So Finland's increase in equality has stopped. It's still significantly higher than in Singapore. Singapore's might be on the up, but it still falls between Peru's and El Salvador's. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... e_equality Why does that matter? Because income inequality is an indicator of the risk of social instability.

I'm not saying that Finland is better than Singapore, just that to me there's more to life than being at the top of league tables. I'd prefer to live somewhere with less inequality, even if it meant an education system that didn't top international league tables and a lower income, rather than have a education system that did top the league tables and a higher income somewhere that could easily be destabilised. You might choose otherwise. My friend's son chose to live in Sierra Leone because of the lack of red tape for his business. That's his choice. One takes the rough with the smooth.

elsiep

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