The PISA (The Programme for International Student Assessment) test scores recently came out, and let’s just say that America did not do well at all. In fact, America scored quite atrociously given our size and proclaimed importance. The country did not even score in the top half of the assessment for math, one of the most important subjects used in everyday life. The subjects students were tested on were: math, reading, science.
How Can America be So Low in the Ranks of the PISA Tests?
Most of the countries who ranked high in the PISA were countries in Asia. I recently watched a video about Welsh teens and how they moved to South Korea to discover what the difference was between schools in Wales from schools in South Korea. These children were some of the best students in their school back in Wales, but they struggled in South Korea. Each one of the teens moved into a home with a Korean family for a week.
Sarah went to an all girls school with her South Korean student, Siang, who she followed around at the school. Before even going to school, Sarah soon realized there was no fooling around. The morning before school started, Siang told her that she had to put her phone up before the bell rang or else she would get it taken away for one week to one month, which scared Sarah quite a bit. The two of them were at school learning from eight in the morning until 10 in the evening, they even had dinner at school! Of course, Sarah was not used to this at all and she fell asleep during class.
Check out the first episode of the documentary from BBC Wales:
Tommy went to an all boys school with his South Korean boy student, Minjung. Minjung has never been late in his whole life, so he was quite upset when Tommy woke up late. They just barely got to school on time. In one of Minjung’s classes, the whole class had to take the Wales standardized test. This is the same test that Tommy takes every year. Students in Wales take up to an hour on this test, but these kids in South Korea took only fifteen minutes and all of them got a perfect score. Tommy said to them that kids at this school fail this test, and all of them laughed thinking of it as a joke. What Tommy is learning now, is what the South Koreans were learning in primary school. English is Minjung’s second language, but he is doing more complex things than Tommy is.
Ewan went to the same school as Tommy and Tommy’s South Korean student, except he had his own South Korean student that he followed around named Chiang. The night he got to his house, the mom of the family asked him if he did any extra-curricular activities, and Ewan said he played the piano. After he played a song, Chiang played that same song not only backward but also with his head underneath the piano. The next morning, they had to wake up at 6:45 for school, but Ewan overslept. Ewan asked Chaing what would happen if they were late, Chaing said that they would have to mop up the floors for two weeks. There was only one break in school from learning, and that was when the whole school ran outside and played sports games to get rid of all of their stress.
Chaing’s school ended at 4, but the boys went to study in a study hall until the study hall closed at 10. After study hall closed, they went back to school until it closed at 11:30. Korean kids stay so late at school that the schools serve dinner.
Most Korean middle-class kids attend hagwons after their schools close. The hagwons are open until midnight.
At the end of the video, Ewan said that these kids in South Korea had no creativity due to their academic studies. He then asked, “Is this what it takes to get to the top of the rankings, and if it is, is it really worth it?”
Here’s the second and final episode of the documentary:
Is This All Really Worth it?
All things academic in Korea resides on a single college entrance exam — the suneung — taken in November. It’s so critical that planes are grounded on test day for fear of disturbing the kids.
Although school is important, I believe that creativity is more important. For the world to change, each individual person needs to be different and have their own talents. If everyone has the same talents and not any creativity then nothing will ever change. I believe that we should balance school out with creativity, but we shouldn’t have to go to the extreme that South Korea is doing.
Face it, children are addicted to screens. Whether it’s a televison, a phone, or a computer, they are always on them. What kids don’t realize is that in every single one of the shows that they watch, the main character has a passion. The televison shows are literally screaming, “stop watching me and start finding yourself”, but a seven year old is incapable of noticing that. Now parents, what you need to do is make them go outside and find a passion, or else there isn’t a way they are going to succeed in the world.
It is becoming extremely hard for children in the USA to succeed in society, but there is a way to change that. Make children find a passion they actually love and they don’t have to be forced to do! From Audrey’s Ideas, I’m Audrey Ewing.