Wednesday, April 23, 2008

musings on school

Bob Herbert tells us here that 4th grade kids in American outperform their peers internationally in math and science while 12th graders do worse than students in almost every industrialized country.

Whats going on? What is so different about the perils of puberty in the US? Or is it that the teachers are different? This data confirms my purely anecdotal evidence - I have been to elementary school classrooms in poor, 'undesirable' public schools, and in wealthy suburbs and private schools, and they don't look that different. Younger kids read the same books, do the same art projects, and are often excited about schools. High schools are a totally different story - noone would ever mistake a high school in Grosse Pointe for one in downtown Detroit - there are huge gaps in facilities and materials, classes offered, and often teacher quality, and along with these, in classroom atmosphere and expectations. Does this not happen in countries which are more successful at teaching their high school students? What a puzzle.