The United States is frequently guilty of ignoring the successes of other countries, especially when it comes to other nations. I always wondered if other countries were performing better than us, why not adopt some of their teaching strategies? Finland and South Korea always seem to be on the tip of everyone’s tongues when talking about educational excellence. However, after reading The Smartest Kids in the World, I question if adopting these strategies is realistic for Americans. 

The Korean system emphasizes hard work and rigor, but if students are constantly falling asleep in class are they really getting a quality education. I do not think being number one in the world is worth that kind of stress for children. They spend all of their time doing school work and very little time enjoying themselves, or even sleeping. There is also more to learning than knowing facts, which is a lot of what the Korean educational system seems to be based around. It is important for students to have a well rounded education full of critical thinking skills. 

I also think it would be difficult to institute Finland’s system in America. I think part of the reason Finland is so successful is that they are small and homogeneous. The United States is the exact opposite. We have many different types of people and a much larger country to regulate. I do agree with Finland’s view on teaching. They respect teachers very highly and expect their best and brightest to go into education. Which is not at all the case in America.

In order for America to climb back to the top of the educational ladder, we need to continue to do our own thing, but adapt some of the programs from other high performing countries. We can not take the system of another country and use it to replace our own, places are too different. It would be beneficial however to integrate parts of those systems that seem to be doing well for example, Korea’s rigor and Finland’s respect of teachers. This help to vastly improve American education.