Compare and contrast education in Finland and the US.
US: Emphasis put on sports. Administration is made up mainly of used-to-be-coaches, and coaches are given special privileges (such as hiring priority, teaching the honors classes and better job security).
Finland: Sports are not a focus of the public schools.
US: Teachers are paid a fairly low amount of money.
Finland: Teachers are paid a fairly low amount of money.
US: There are plenty of history, English, and elementary education teachers, but there are shortages of special education, math, and science teachers.
Finland: Competition for all teaching positions is fierce. No problem with shortages.
US: Teachers are respected by some, but many students have no respect for them.
Finland: Teaching is seen as a noble profession, and many more students aspire to become teachers themselves.
US: Some parents instill love of reading into their children. Many parents don't see education as that important.
Finland: Almost all parents read to their children. Public libraries are everywhere (including inside of malls) and reading is a very popular past-time. Students know how important education is.
US: All children are put through the same classes from age 5 to age 18. Many drop out early.
Finland: Students don't start school until they're 7. At age 15 or 16, they attend either a vocational school or a university-prep school, depending on their skills or interests. Very few drop out (although they can do so legally at age 15 or 16).
US: Most students will do whatever they can to get out of schoolwork.
Finland: Students place high value on being intelligent and educated.
US: Teachers don't tend to be the smartest college graduates (according to test scores).
Finland: Teachers tend to be as smart as law school students or med school students, despite the pay (according to test scores).
US: Teachers can get a Master's degree if they want.
Finland: Teachers are expected (but not required) to get a Master's.
US: Discipline is the biggest issue for teachers. Disrespect, talking, cell phone use, etc. causes big problems.
Finland: Children are well-behaved in class (and they're interested in learning).
US: Let's face it. American kids don't compete well in language, math, science, etc.
Finland: Probably the best education system in the world, and the kids score highest or second highest on international tests.
It seems that the biggest issues are:
1. Teenagers are put into a program that makes sense for them (vocational or college-bound), and, more importantly:
2. Students have a respect for teachers and for education, which translates into less discipline problems, which means more people want to teach, which translates into smarter, better teachers (because of heavy competition).