Education systems around the world have long been tested and refined to produce high academic results and cultivate personal growth for children. Wherever you go to school in the world, your education is primarily influenced by the culture and mindset of that country, and while no education system is perfect, there are some countries that gain good academic results and personal skills that help people transcend through life.
So which countries seem to get it “right” when it comes to a child’s education and what are the factors that make them so successful? Many countries structure their education in different ways, but here are four countries whose educational successes lead us to examine how their priorities affect the way in which their education systems are formed and what we can learn from them.
Developing character before knowledge
Anyone who has visited Japan will notice that the Japanese have a very polite character with immaculate manners. This is because Japanese culture has a very strong emphasis on the focus of building up the character of a child before starting traditional education with formal exams and testing.
The first few years of a child’s school life in Japan is spent developing respect, compassion, and generosity as part of their nature, as well as the difference between right and wrong, justice, self-control, and determination. These traits help establish a sense of balance needed to succeed in school and life going forward.
Japanese students clean their school themselves.
While many schools employ janitors to clean every nook and cranny, in Japan the classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and even the toilets are all washed and cleaned by the students themselves.
Divided into groups, the students go about doing their cleaning duties on a daily basis, and the reason for this being part of the education system in Japan is because it teaches a child not only how to clean and the importance of a cleaning routine, but also promotes teamwork between fellow pupils and respect for their own work and the work of others.
Less Is More
Finland has also been hailed a great success when it comes to their education system. Part of this is down to their idea that less is more. Teachers in Finland spend around 600 hours a year teaching in the classroom — this is compared to almost double that for teachers in America. The advantage of spending less time standing in front of the children is more time for teachers to invest in professional development, which ultimately results in quality of hours a teacher spends educating rather than quantity. This doesn’t just result in a win for the children, but also the teaching staff too.
Kids Spend More Time Outside
Finland and other Scandinavian countries, including Norway and Sweden, put a big emphasis on being outside in nature. Because of this, children in Finland spend a vast amount of time exploring and playing, and it is seen as an important component to learning that is just as important as the classroom environment.
Even in the depths of winter, children are found playing outside or taking educational trips into the forests or mountains. Apart from encouraging children to be active, being in nature has been found to have great beneficial effects on well-being and happiness and helps the brain in a great number of ways.
More Is Invested in Technology
Singapore has one of the highest achieving school statistics in Asia and the world, and a lot has been invested in the technology support within the classrooms for both children and teachers.
There is a massive emphasis on technology being a leverage to improving Singapore schools and the opportunity for children to access information. They invest in digital learning with high-speed internet access for all and digital textbooks, making learning materials much more accessible, especially to students from lower income households.
Introducing the Importance of Positive Psychology
In Singapore, there has been considerable reform in the education system over recent years. One particular addition has been a social and emotional skills curriculum that focuses on recent discoveries on positive psychology around mindset, resilience, and grit. Positive education is seen as a fundamental and important integration into the classroom that cultivates and shapes the way in which subjects are taught and to educate children on different ways of encouraging positivity in their lives.
No Comparisons Between Schools
National curriculum tests in different countries around the world are used to compare the achievements of different schools, and this can put a lot of pressure on performance from the children, getting in the way of the enjoyment, personal growth, and achievement. In Germany, league tables aren’t published, meaning schools aren’t constantly worried about their reputation, and therefore, are less target-driven.
German schools ensure that monitoring of both teachers and pupils is not excessive, which lessens the chance of the teacher’s creativity being inhibited. This allows there to be more focus on the process of education rather than the results, giving children a less pressured, enjoyable approach to learning.
Less Segregation Between Children of Differing Learning Levels
Segregating children into different levels of learning is big practice in many schools around the world with some children being physically put into different classrooms depending on their level of need. In Germany, schools have been consolidated into more general comprehensive schools that have the ability to cultivate and support children of all levels within the same environment. This breaks down the segregation between children on different learning paths and fosters flexibility in their learning, which eliminates the stigma that comes with segregation.
The Perfect Education System?
While many western education systems are turning to Asia for their high-achieving secrets, there doesn’t seem to be one system that has the ability to cover all needs, instilled cultural differences, and opinions. The one thing that does stand out is the investment in emotional and positivity strategies that go towards shaping a child in a way that encourages a mindset that will help in all areas of their life.
Not only that, but the importance of investment in teachers’ professional quality and further development. Whatever your view on the perfect educational system, we can look to one another to take away valuable ideas on the best route to educational success.
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