And from the "Asheville Citixen-Times--Voice of the Mountains, " comes an amusing little read. This is from Ashville, North Carolina. I know where that is, because I came from just north and west of there in the same Appalachian Mountains, and I can tell you that they know alot about education, like next to nothing.
In this gem, Doug Williams bemoans the state of education in the US. "There is a growing concern — realization, really — that the United States is falling behind in some important areas." His remedy, toss kids out who are behavior problems and let their parents deal with them. This, he says, will bring schools, "a return to compliance and progress in education." This must mean that if we have a compliant, obdient group of learners, then they will learn and close the gap in science and math.
Then he says, "several years ago a friend from Japan told me that when a teacher in her country enters the classroom, everyone gets quiet, faces to the front, pays complete attention and says not a word unless called upon." Wonder when and where this person went to school. I've been in high school classes where there are some students who do stand, those who are not writing email on their cell phones or who don't have their MP3 players turned up so loud that they didn't hear the teacher come in. And most do face front and say not a word, whether called on or not. The reason they don't talk is because they are asleep after having spent the night standing along a road somewhere cheering on their favorite public annouiance, "bosozoku." Not all students are like this. Some are, but my point is that imagining that Japan is somehow some kind of ideal, a image that grew out of Japan's economic boom years where every nation in the world was trying to figure out what they were doing right, is by no means reality.
Look at the "Third International Mathematics and Science Study." The US wasn't second after Japan in math. We were forth after Japan, Canada, and Russia, and tied with England. In science we were fourth after Japan, England and Canada, and tied with Russia. There are lots of people doing it better than the US. Some of them just next door. When is the US ever going to get a clue and look north for answers, for more than just education, too.