Could You Benefit From This Education System?

The Benefits of Other Education SystemsIs the North American system of education a world model? Can they possibly learn and borrow from other countries and cultures to further improve their way of doing things?While doing some unrelated research this past week, I came across some very interesting information that piqued my interest in the current state of affairs in North American education. The author of the report, Bill Costello, is a US educational researcher who believes that cultures should borrow the best practices from each other. He wanted to find out if the Taiwanese education system uses practices from which schools in the US could benefit.I would add here that US schools could easily be expanded to cover most schools in North America. Having gone through the US education system myself and seeing my step-daughters now in the Canadian education system, for the purpose of this article I’ve concluded that the US/Canadian methods are very closely related, if not entirely similar.Mr. Costello notes that the Taiwanese education system produces students with some of the highest test scores in the world in science and math. He goes on to support his case by citing the various international assessments used to obtain performance rankings in different disciplines of study, such as math, science and reading. The actual assessment results show that the Taiwanese education system produces overall performances significantly higher than the international average.A Few Simple Changes to Greatly Benefit Our Education SystemThe most interesting part of Mr. Costello’s report is that he admits there are too many factors involved to correctly pinpoint the reason(s) why the Taiwanese appear to lead the world in educational performance. However, he did make these observations and wonders – as I now do, and hope you will too – if the following six excellent practices just might have something to do with their superior rankings among global education systems. Here is a brief summary of what Mr. Costello observed:
Nutrition: The Taiwanese serve veggies, rice, soup and meat as opposed to the high fat and sugar content processed food of their North American counterparts. Studies prove that good nutrition improves scholastic achievement.
Activity Levels Increased: The Taiwanese incorporate more weekly physical education and daily recesses than do North Americans. In fact, the growing trend in North America is to cut required physical activity out altogether, making it an elective. Once again, independent studies show that an increase in regular exercise improves school performance results.
Uniforms: With peer pressure being a large cause of negative influence in school, uniforms are proven to lower incidents of violence and theft. Children who feel safe and relaxed do far better than those who are constantly stressed and fearful. Uniforms are the norm in Taiwan, while only 15% of North American schools require them.
Utilization of a more hands-on approach: While the majority of North American schools tend to limit learning from books and other multi-media, the Taiwanese lean more towards hands-on learning, preferring to use compasses and rulers rather than computers and calculators as one example. Hands-on learning leads to more direct application of learned skills, making the lessons that much more real and valuable to students.
Multi-task learning: The Taiwanese try to show how things are related by teaching two or three disciplines at a time. For example, art meets science as students draw or construct models based on what they learn. Again, this allows students additional ways to apply what they know across multiple disciplines, making each area that much stronger.
Instill personal responsibility: Taiwanese school systems do not employ janitors. Rather, cleanup is part of the daily regimen taken up by all students where they are assigned to clean the building, take care of trash and keep the school grounds clean and tidy. Academic performance improves as students become more responsible.
Not Perfect, But a Better Education SystemWhile the Taiwanese education system is excellent, it’s not perfect. For example, critics say it favors rote memorization over critical and creative thought, puts too much pressure on students to pass entrance exams and relies too much on buxibans – or cram schools – for educating students.Nonetheless, North American education systems could improve by adopting some of the excellent practices used in Taiwanese schools.While I like all of the observations, I absolutely love #6 as I see personal responsibility sorely lacking in our youth today. In North America we strive so hard to ‘give our kids the life we wish we had’ when we were growing up, we literally rob them of opportunities to grow, especially in the area of personal responsibility.In my own home, it seems to be a never-ending task for Maggie and I to make sure the girls pick up after themselves. I’m all for having the students pick up after themselves in school. I see only benefits coming from this practice.In any case, it’s an interesting debate – can simple changes like adopting the best practices of other cultures’ education systems actually improve our own childrens’ learning capacity?What if it could? Wow, you gotta Love That Feeling!

Need to Leave the US? Don’t Travel Abroad Without International Travel Insurance!

If you’re a US citizen and planning to travel abroad, for any reason, then you’ll need to have an international travel insurance plan.  In the event of a travel related accident, illness, emergency, or inconvenience, your finances need to be covered.  Unexpected medical costs can cost even more than the vacation itself, therefore you’ll have to have international travel insurance to cover those unexpected costs for you.Even if you’re only planning to stay gone for five days or so, you’ll need good insurance coverage.  Anything can happen during those few days, and you won’t want to end up paying all the costs involved for something that happened during such a small trip.  Some international travel insurance policies are good and renewable for up to a year or more, so you’ll be able to enjoy long stays in other countries without worrying whether or not you’re insured.Depending on the plan, you can even get international travel insurance that will cover sports related injuries.  If you’re a risk taker who enjoys extreme sports, then you’ll need a plan such as this.  There are always dangers involved with these types of activities, and you’ll need to make sure you’re insured just in case you become injured from them.If a natural disaster occurs while staying overseas, you should have this insurance that will help pay for your evacuation.  If you need to be rescued, then a good insurance plan will cover the costs for that as well. Nothing can ruin a vacation like a natural disaster, especially if it involves search and rescue.  Experiencing fear and having to evacuate is bad enough itself, and the expenses will make things even worse.  Since weather can be unpredictable at times, you shouldn’t go anywhere overseas without international travel insurance.