The U.S. educational system continues to evolve, but neither students nor professors feel like it’s taking the right course. Five decades ago, the educational systems of Finland and South Korea had serious problems. However, these countries revolutionized their approach towards education and today they are perceived as examples of how modern education should look like. There are several things we can learn from their systems: we should first set strong basis; inspire students to use the skills they learn, and use modern technology into our advantage.
The Finnish educational model is based on motivation and extracurricular choice. The curriculums are rigorous, but flexible at the same time. In comparison to the U.S. educational system, the school days in Finland are shorter and the real learning occurs outside the classroom. Professors inspire students to discover and follow their personal interests. The extracurricular activities sponsored by the schools enable Finnish children to realize what motivates them and how they see themselves in future. The low-stress environment inspires them not to study, but to learn.
The South Korean model, on the other hand, is not so flexible and is based on hard work. However, that doesn’t make it any less successful than the Finnish one. Although the students are under enormous pressure to study hard and perform well on the exams, talent is not underestimated. In today’s competitive world, children should know how to learn and work hard in order to have a great future. The South Korean model is a good example that promotes those values.
How can we change the American educational system by using those examples? The large percentage of dropout students in U.S. colleges is a major concern that has a lot to do with the approach we have towards learning. The most important reason why we are not making academic progress is that we don’t pay enough attention to the basics. In order to master the sophisticated skills of critical thinking, we need a solid foundation formed through strong early education. This is the aspect we can borrow from the South Korean system. The skills and knowledge young students get must be maintained through extracurricular activities. That is the most effective way of enabling children to discover their true interests and work towards their improvement.
The proper usage of technology is another thing we can learn from the Finnish and South Korean system. American educators have already started implementing the Internet and mobile technology into early education, but we haven’t quite realized how to effectively implement different apps and tools into adult education. It would be a mistake to rely on technology more than necessary, so we can understand what the real extent is by analyzing these two successful educational systems.
The U.S. education has many flaws that we have failed to identify. Instead of trying to evolve the system by making the curriculums more rigorous and burdening students with unreasonable amounts of academic writing, we should learn how to inspire them to find their own voice and motivate them to learn more.