The Flat Earth and Education

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by davidmense
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The Flat Earth and Education

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Why is this important? Currently, there is a great deal of inequity in public school education, which results in a prominant achievement gap between middle class, mainly white students and primarily students of color who are often from impoverished areas. According to Darling-Hammond, "the achievement gap is a function of unequal access to key educational resources" (p. 30). These key resources include equitable learning resources, well trained teachers, and a curriculum that promotes the application of 21st century skills.

In The Flat World and Education, Linda Darling-Hammond (2010) outlines how the current public school system in most of the US is actually failing our students more than developing them into the leaders of tomorrow. She outlines particular failures and points to education systems in a few states, but primarily systems in countires that are considered very effective at educating their children. These countries have consistently scored high on international assessments of student achievement, and Darling-Hammond suggests a prescription of changes to help develop an educaiton system that is equitable, empowering and proovides students with the skills needed to compete in the 21st century.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America's commitment to equity will determine our future. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

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Why ?

In countries like Finland, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, teachers are the agents of educational reform. Teachers develop both the curriculum and assessments according to the students needs. Assessments are seldom given before high school. Students learn how to think, work cooperatively, apply their knowledge, defend their ideas in written and oral form. Skills that 21st centruy businesses want."Teaching has to improve if learning is to follow" (p. 98).


These features of a successful educational experience are found in some states, but mainly in foreign countries where teachers are well trained, curricula is focused on quality learning rather than the quantity measures that are associated with assessment-based education systems, like those in many US states, and an equitable distribution of resources including well qualified teachers to all students.

According to Darling-Hammond, in order to change education, it is necessary to "build a culture that emphasizes continuous improvement and collaboration" (p. 201). I've seen two much of what Darling-Hammond says is wrong with education in the US, and so little of how to make it right. Teachers are still relying on outdated methods of teaching to prepare students for multiple choice tests that cover low level skills. In my school of 945 students, during the standardized testing time, we administered roughly 4000 tests in 10 days. It's ridiculous. Know learning is occurring. It's strictly regurgitation of facts. I agree with Darling-Hammond, that there needs to be a switch to fewer assessments that actually have students apply what they know and explain the rationale of their answers. Without equitable resources to all students, well trained teachers and curricula that stresses thinking skills, we are bound to keep churning out students to prisons, low paying jobs, and an uncertain future in the global workplace.



PicturesThe Right Rant (2014, January 13). The Finland model for the US? [Web log post]. Retrieved from, J. (2012). Why do we focus on Finland? A must have guidebook. Edudemic: Connecting education & technology. Retrieved from (2013, September 26). Programmes atm at going beyond academic knowledge in Singapore. Retrieved from (2012, January 30). Dan Rather's interview with Linda Darling-Hammond. Retrieved from


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