How the World Learns
Comparative Educational Systems Series

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24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 The Global Challenge to Educate
Borrowing or benchmarking one national education system against another is not necessarily a remedy or the most useful analytical tool for educational reform, yet these are among the most common…
Episode 2 Sputnik Launches the Science-Math Race
Dating back to Sputnik in the 1950s, education culture has been driven by anxiety. Learn about the history of "crisis" in U.S. education before investigating how America's educational system compares…
Episode 3 Education Is Life
Which is more important--gaining knowledge or new skills? Is standardized testing the best measure of what someone knows? What is the purpose of going to school--to prepare for college or…
Episode 4 Evidence-Based Policy Making in Education
Delve into the question of why evidence-based educational policymaking has become a global phenomenon by looking at the way data is used to shape what teachers and students do in…
Episode 5 What Should We Compare about Education?
Do the achievement rankings paint an accurate picture of what's happening in schools, or is the crisis politically manufactured? Get answers as you analyze common criticisms of national education systems…
Episode 6 The World Learns from Horace Mann
Trace how the ideologies of mass education emerged in the U.S. and became central tenets of education around the world. Survey the ideas of key educational thinkers such as Horace…
Episode 7 When Culture Invades the Classroom
Investigate the idea that "non-school factors" such as student poverty are among the strongest predictors of learning. Examine how two of the largest of these factors--culture and economics--play out in…
Episode 8 Germany and Japan’s Shattered Expectations
Thanks to the PISA and other internationally comparative data, each nation's policymakers, educators, and the public know exactly how well their students perform compared to their peers. Consider why Finland…
Episode 9 Borrowing Foreign School Cultures
Why are educational comparisons so popular? Should educational reform be driven by economic competition? Think critically about these questions as you examine which countries and cultures are and aren't comparable,…
Episode 10 The Value in Linking School to Jobs
Many business and industry leaders say there is no connection between formal school education--which teaches information, but not skills--and what is needed in the world of work. Investigate renewed global…
Episode 11 Why Blame the Teacher?
Is low student performance the fault of teachers? Consider this question as you study characteristics of students, teachers, curriculum, and culture in the "model" educational systems to see what makes…
Episode 12 Gender Pipeline Lifts Equality Dream
The U.S. and other countries may not be able to replicate Finland's educational system, but they can level the playing field by making adjustments that contribute to equality in policies,…
Episode 13 Gulf Schools: The Non-National Advantage
Look at the "insider" versus the "outsider" in national education systems such as Saudi Arabia to see how education bridges political citizenship, academic performance, and economic productivity. Examine how education…
Episode 14 Who Is Accountable for Education?
Accountability culture varies from country to country and region to region, but three common elements appear in most educational systems. Compare and contrast how access, achievement, and a combination of…
Episode 15 How Parents Shape Student Outcomes
Explore how parental involvement aligns with socioeconomic status and influences student achievement and education worldwide. See the role "cram schools" in Korea and other private tutoring play in education and…
Episode 16 Reading, Writing, and Religion
Think about how educators and students in systems around the world decide what to teach and learn, and consider how this decision is largely a product of context. Start with…
Episode 17 International Test Scores: All and Nothing
Most educational systems around the world have four general goals. Explore each of them here as you get a framework for finding what works to improve student achievement on standardized…
Episode 18 Turning a Good Teacher into a Great One
Think about what constitutes good teaching, and look at the ways teachers teach in the U.S., Finland, Saudi Arabia, and Japan. Begin your comparison by looking at some of the…
Episode 19 The Foundations of Civil Society
Think critically about political socialization and why it plays such a large part in education worldwide by looking closely at the various ways students are politically socialized, the results of…
Episode 20 From National Student to Global Citizen
Explore how education in countries around the world develops global citizens by imparting a combination of identity, knowledge, skills, and action--both explicitly and implicitly--to engender concern for making the world…
Episode 21 The Problem with Teaching’s Best Practices
Explore ways that teachers and students behave in classrooms across the globe, focusing on what seems to work in a few key systems. Discover why practices that produce a great…
Episode 22 A School inside Your Phone?
New technologies are being implemented as teaching tools, combining traditional teaching methods with more self-directed learning. Consider efforts such as the One Laptop per Child organization, and see why even…
Episode 23 The Rich-and-Poor Learning Cycle
How should we measure academic success? By standardized tests and school grades? By transition and mobility within an education system? See how true success in education is a delicate balance…
Episode 24 How to Fix Education: Heart, Head, Hands
Assuming something is "wrong" with schools, how might they be fixed? Analyze how the larger forces of imposition, invitation, and innovation can lead to change through examples from Saudi Arabia,…

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Trace how the ideologies of mass education emerged in the U.S. and became central tenets of education around the world. Survey the ideas of key educational thinkers such as Horace Mann and James Bryant Conant, then consider why, despite its strengths, the U.S. might be ranked low relative to international…
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