In the past two weeks, Diane Ravitch, a professor of education, has written two articles in The New York Review of Books– “Schools We Can Envy,” (March 8, 2012) and “How, and How Not, to Improve Schools,” (March 22, 2012). Both articles mention some of the problems plaguing America’s schools as well as ideas for solutions. For inspiration, Ravitch points readers to look towards Finland, a country that consistently scores high in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from the OECD. As a high school teacher, her arguments resonated with me, and since I am leaving for Germany to participate in our school’s exchange, I wanted to see how Europeans view their respective education systems and more specifically, their teachers. With that in mind, I pose the following questions for my readers in Europe and look forward to reading their thoughts.
1. How many standardized tests do students take each year and for what purpose?
2. In general, how are teachers treated?
3. What is the relationship between universities and high school (or the European equivalent)? Does getting into the “right” university affect what is taught at high school?
4. How are the school systems set up? (Do all kids go to the same schools, or do they diverge at some point into academic and vocational schools?)
5. How do schools receive their funding? (Local, state, federal?)
6. Do schools attempt to develop collegiality among teachers?
7. What is taught in regards to European history and the EU?