Schooling the school system

Justin Prakaiphetkul, Contributing Writer

In terms of education systems around the world, the United States is not ranked among the top five in teaching math and science. In fact, the U.S. is not even in the top 25. In a 2015 study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, when taking into account only students’ performances in math and science, the U.S. ranks 29th among 76 countries that participated.

The OECD study reports that the top five countries in education systems are Singapore, China, South Korea, Japan and Finland.

A country that the U.S. can easily take a page out of its education plan is Finland. Finland has relatively short school days and is full of school-sponsored extracurriculars. One third of the classes in high school are electives. The elective courses and short school days give students more time to focus on the necessary academic courses.

Students  have less stress put on their shoulders due to having plenty of time to complete the work. In Finland schools, teachers spend  around 600 hours a year instructing students.

In the U.S., teachers are in the classroom for about 1,100 hours a year. With teachers having more spare time, they can better prepare their lesson plans, ensuring higher quality lessons. They could also use that extra time tutoring struggling students.

An  aspect of  Japan’s education system that has helped them advance is its high-end technology.

When an assignment problem is from a textbook, even if the answers are provided, there are no explanations on where a mistake could have been potentially made. With the use of some websites, such as, students are given an explanation, rather than just an answer, on their mistakes.

Although the U.S. has began implementing more technology in their schools, by beginning later than Japan, it will take a while before the U.S. comes close to Japan’s level of use of technology in school.

The U.S. could also follow some elements of Singapore’s primary education system. Compared to Western countries, Singapore’s curriculum is more stripped down at the elementary level. Students in Singapore cover fewer topics, but do so in greater depth. Instead of having to memorize a variety of topics, the students just focus on and try to understand the main topics.

By focusing on fewer topics but in greater depth, students do  not have to worry about memorizing every single bit of information. Students can also have a deeper understanding of that topic.

In the U.S., classroom lessons cover too many topics, and consequently, knowledge taught of said subjects are shallow and quickly forgotten.

By implementing just a few elements from Finland, Japan and Singapore, the U.S. education system can only go up the ranks in STEM.