Why Korean Education is Leaving America in the DUST
and What We Must Do to Catch up
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This author not only identifies the major shortcomings of the American Public Elementary School, but makes thirty-three specific recommendations as to how to improve them. He does this because he fears America is falling behind other nations, particularly the Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, and China.
He decries the short teaching day and teaching year of the United States in comparison with those nations that are leaving us behind such as South Korea. He pulls no punches in taking on the politicians. In the process parents are not spared as they have exempted their children from walking to neighborhood schools and losing the exercise children experienced in walking by driving them. "Our drop out rate of one third is a disgrace when other nations graduate over 93% from high school," says Hedges.
After describing Korean education and making recommendations in the first three chapters, the author then sets forth how modern elementary schools should be and can be organized and operated in contrast with the way so many of them are organized and operated today. This development would help them in contrast with Korean Schools which are more lockstep. He points out that one reason for so many home study children is that parents are not pleased with what the elementary public schools are providing. They want an education tailor made for their children and they set about doing it when the public schools come up short. Too many of our schools proceed in lock step, tracking children into dumb, average, above average, and bright groups when with modern computers this is no longer necessary.
Hedges, an author of two books on testing and one on early childhood education, maintains that the testing going on is for all of the wrong reasons, i.e. (1) to evaluate teachers, (2) to compare students with one another, (3) to compare schools with one another. In his view tests should be used as the medical profession uses tests, i.e. to diagnose individual needs and thus to serve as a basis for how to help the student not just give him an A or an F. As he says, “What if when you go to the doctor he hands you a card which gives you a C- on your health. What the devil does that mean?” Instead, the doctor reviews the test data, analyzes it, and gives you a prescription. So why aren’t our schools doing that in education?
The book is not only a clarion call to arms, but a practical How To. How to provide for individual differences. How to make sure your child will succeed in primary school. How to organize other than by grades. How to enable more independent study and encourage creativity in your youngster. How can parents tell if their school is any good? How to be clear on the objectives of the school. How should young children be graded and evaluated?
This book is for superintendents and principals, as they are the leaders, for elementary teachers as they are the doers, for school board member as they are the policy makers, and for those parents, who want to know what an excellent elementary school should be like. It is not pie in the school dreaming, but a down to earth description of how things are versus how they might be in the modern up to date school.
Consider just one of his practical tips for some parents. What can the parent of a a slightly immature child do to increase the probability his or her child will be a ‘smash hit?’ Here is how. Let us say that he can enter first grade at age six. Well, age six is 365 days. If this child was born January 1 he is 364 days younger than the child born on December 31. A whole year!
Think what that means in terms of his growth, development, and readiness for first grade! So, throw in that many of the children will be more mature than his child. The result? His or her child is a failure in the eyes of the other kids who are doing so much better than he because America grades on the curve.
- Xlibris US, July 2011
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