U.S. and European schools like comparing apples to oranges

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  • Paul J Henderson West Jordan, UT
    Dec. 4, 2012 4:32 p.m.

    The public schools and universities of a country are a reflection of how that country feels about learning. American schools are the way they are because that is how we want them. Students go to college not for the sake of learning but just to get a better job. I am a retired teacher and I would have students bringing a note to class from their parents excusing them to go skiing. In Japan if a student missed school for illness their parent would come to school and take notes for them. On parent teacher conferences I would spent the evening trying to explain to parents, if the student wasn't performing well, why the student was not performing as well as they shoud be and at times it was rather stressful. I noticed one evening that a collegue was having very pleasant interviews. I asked him how that happened and he said that he just gave all his students A's and B's. His philosophy was that the parents didn't care what their child learned but what grade they got.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 4, 2012 11:52 a.m.

    Re One Old Man

    Although spelling does count, I hope you would focus on the message which you seem to be oblivious to.

    I have pointed out strenghts in our educational system which we ought not discard during our misguided attemps to fix it, for these strenghts are in large part why we have been great. Then I point out that we need to restore what we used to have .. Quality Cirriculum.

    This is a rich gold mine for the taking and you overlook the gold and can see only dirt.

    Let those who have eyes to see .. see. Let those who have ears to hear .. hear.

  • wrz Ogden, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 9:15 p.m.

    Our schools are just fine. If there is a problem, it's due to the inattention of the parents to the education of their offspring... or lack of a two parent family. Usually in troubled families education takes a back seat. And we have alotta troubled families these days.


    "Kind of like when reporters lament how poor our infant mortality rate is compared to other countries when they don't realize that in the other countries, if the baby dies within the first 24 hours, they don't count it as a live birth..."

    Millions of our babies die before they even get out of the womb (called abortion).
    Some even die in the partial-birth stage. That could be the reason our birth rate is low by comparison.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 5:44 p.m.

    This is like the various nations against which the US was compared complaining because the US produces way better high school basketball and football players. They don't complain, of course, because that's not what they want their education systems to produce.

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 5:05 p.m.

    In most developed countries, against whom we are judged, the school day is typically longer and the school year is usually 20 to 30 days longer. If the only difference were the 20 extra days, their students would get the equivalent of one more 180 day school year in the first nine years of school. That SHOULD make their test scores better.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 4:49 p.m.

    Re: "We should all be doing whatever we can to build up our schools . . . but sadly we continue to try to tear them down."

    Actually, UEA/NEA and the "elitization" of Big Education has been doing a superb job of tearing them down for us.

    The letter highlights American education's biggest failure -- marginalizing and failing to support students whose talents and interests lie off the college track. All Big Ed does for them is label them "problems" and "dropouts."

    Construction jobs -- once available to youngsters willing to work, learn, and apprentice -- are locked away from today's youth by immigration activists and closed union shops.

    There's really nothing wrong with dropping out, so long as dropouts have real options to remain productive, valued members of society.

    The IT industry became disgusted with hidebound, out-of-touch higher ed, and came up with its own relevant training and certification programs. Similar revitalization of American culture is occurring elsewhere, as well -- fast food, retail, hotel, and cable/satellite.

    But, if it doesn't spread to others soon, we'll all lose.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 12:06 p.m.

    cjb, if you would study a little, you'd learn that in the past spelling was not standardized. In fact, it was not standardized until some time in the early 1800's when people like Mr. Webster began publishing dictionaries.

    Now it is standardized and proper spelling tells a lot about a person's level of education.

    Here's a homework assignment for you: How is the word "choose" unconstitutional?

    I'll be interested in seeing your answer soon.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 10:32 a.m.

    re One Old Man

    You said

    " Maybe if they did study a little more, they'd be better educated. Might even learn to spell tricky words like "strength." "


    I once read that Shakesphere spelled his name multiple different ways. Learn not to get hung up on small unimportant things and concentrate on the important message, and you will see the big picture with more clarity, if that is what you want.

  • Christian 24-7 Murray, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 10:27 a.m.

    It is interesting that in our country we teach educators all about diversity in their students and tell the respect it and accommodate it in their teaching, and then we tell those teachers to take all those students who are so different and make them all just alike. Case in point, No Child Left Behind. We frustrate students with low aptitudes for the core requirements we have imposed, and we stymie the students who have higher aptitude for those core requirements. In short we set all students to be less than they are capable of being.

    We need to take the cap off learning. Provide for students who are good in science and math to advance in those areas starting in elementary school. Students who struggle in these areas would still get taught these subjects but balance it with advancement in the areas where they are more skilled. Until we respect and value the diversity in our kids, we will continue to help them all underachieve, which is a monumental tragedy.

    I am not naive to non-school factors negatively affecting learning (dysfunctional families, poverty, etc) but in my 200 words I am addressing education issues only.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 10:17 a.m.

    cjb -- you can be very sure that American students are not being forced to "study excessively."

    It never ceases to amaze me as I drive along the streets when students are heading home from school at 2 in the afternoon (six hours in school minus one for lunch?) and so few of them are carrying any books or wearing a backpack that might contain books.

    Maybe if they did study a little more, they'd be better educated. Might even learn to spell tricky words like "strength."

    America's REAL problem is not excessive study. It's a general malaise among adult Americans that seems to place greater value on entertainment than it does on education.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Dec. 3, 2012 7:53 a.m.


    Though I understand your point about choice and being well rounded, saying that other countries do not have "people who make great accomplishments in their field" is, I think, an overstatement. The Asian countries were doing just fine in their technological leaps as do several European countries.

    Surely we can figure a way to get at least a bit of the best of both. But we must be willing to accept an educational system that has true rigor. That means every child does not necessarily graduate.

  • rok San Diego, CA
    Dec. 3, 2012 7:22 a.m.

    Kind of like when reporters lament how poor our infant mortality rate is compared to other countries when they don't realize that in the other countries, if the baby dies within the first 24 hours, they don't count it as a live birth, so they look like they have better rates than they really do.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 6:52 a.m.

    A strenght of the American educational system, is that students are not driven to study excessively. Countries where students are driven to study too much, almost to the exclusion of other activities have good students, but they seldom if ever hsve people who make great accomplishments in their field. They get burned out.

    Another strenght of the American educational system is that is easier to become what you want to be. People here are more likely to end up in the field(s) of their choice because of greater opportunity and they aren't disqualified by tests they didn't excel in when they were younger. When people do what they are interested in or passionate about they make greater contributions.

    A weakness of the American educational system is that the cirruculum has been watered down I have noticed a big difference in the math and physics education my children are offered here in Utah public schools compared to what I was fortunate to be able to take advantage of. Unfortunately this fact is denied by too many educators, (mostly administrators). I know because I have worked to try to improve things, and have seen this first hand.

  • embarrassed Utahn! Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 5:45 a.m.

    Mediocrity justified....sounds like a good Utah slogan.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 4:28 a.m.


    Every intelligent person understands what you understand. Unfortunately the editorial boards and our legislators like to do whatever they can to trash our once noble education system. Look around and you won't find a more dedicated bunch of people than the teachers at your local school. Despite the disrespect from the editorial boards and legislature, they continue to educate our children for a fraction of the cost in other states and countries.

    It is sad really. We should all be doing whatever we can to build up our schools and teachers but sadly we continue to try to tear them down.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Dec. 3, 2012 12:09 a.m.

    The European system described in this letter existed eighty years ago. It is no longer the case. They, like us, try to educate everyone.