Pearls of the Week: Perspectives on Education from the US, UK and Canada

Pearl nl: Parels de: Perlen

In this post I’ll share a selection of pearls [bookmarks] of thought-provoking articles I collected this week about current issues in higher education and K12 in United States, UK and Canada. What makes this collection interesting is the contrast in perspectives on education between the three countries. Though the articles present a position taken by the given author on an educational issue, and are not necessarily representative of all issues within the nation, I found the contrast and perspectives most interesting in light of the challenges in education that the US is dealing with. A summary of each article/resource with the corresponding link to each follows.

Note on ‘Pearls’: My pearls [bookmarks] are the best of articles, posts or learning opportunities on the Web that I’ve encountered. I use the [Beta] Pearltrees application. In a previous post I described how I use Pearltrees for cataloguing and archiving digital information for my work and personal projects, click here to read the post.

1) The Wall Street Journal: The ‘crisis’ in Higher Ed continues, in the US at least…

We’ve been hearing much about the rising cost of higher education – in this article readers are given hard data that reveals the financial impact of college costs for the upper middle class. According to the Federal Reserve, upper income households experienced the most significant increase of student loan debt load to household income from 2007 to 2010. Though a concern, my feeling is that parents in this echelon will continue to shell out for the ‘name brand’ universities — for the short-term at least. Time will tell. Read more in College Debt Hits Well-Off, by Ruth Simon and Rob Barry.

2) The New York Times: The ‘crisis’ is not only in Higher Ed —  K12 education is not immune…

Thomas Friedman author and columnist of the NYT writes why the US should be [very] concerned about the state of elementary education as it stands today. Friedman is frank, and discusses how America is losing its competitive edge – is becoming ‘average’ in the International realm of [elementary and high school] academic performance.

The US scores very poorly on International test scores in comparison to other developed nations.  From my own experience, when I speak with parents about the International test scores, most are unaware of that the US fairs so poorly in comparison to other countries, and are shocked that we are average if not below average in comparison. Read more in Average is Over, Part II, by Thomas Friedman. To view International results of K12 performance, click here.

3) The Globe and Mail, Canada.  Canada does not face a financial crisis in higher ed as the US does – university costs are far lower than in the United States. The priority for the  Government [Ontario Government in this article] contrasts a great deal with the educational emphases of the US and even the UK.

This article focuses on reforms needed in higher education as emphasized in a government paper on post secondary education reform. What where the top three issues?  “A system transformation;” 1) a move in some programs to three-year degrees; 2) greater use of “technology-enabled” learning; and 3) a much simpler mechanism for transferring course credits between college and university.  Read more in Changing postsecondary education must be a collective process, by Daniel Woolf.

4) The Globe and Mail, Canada.  I can’t seem to get away from the barrage of articles about MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses from American sources, yet the media coverage and conversation is tame in Canada in comparison.

I read this article in the Globe while on holidays in Canada [my home country] this past week, and realized how the discussion of MOOCs and their role (or NOT) in higher ed is so not on the radar in Canada. The article illustrates how the idea of a MOOCs is so very new, it is neutral, a non issue. The journalist, Margaret Wente methodically educates the reader on this novel concept of Online University for the Masses.Read more in Online University for the Masses, by Margaret Wente.

5) The Guardian, United Kingdom: Meanwhile, across the Atlantic….

I enjoyed this article immensely. I like the position this author presents on higher education – he emphasizes research, change, and the need for higher education to collaborate with businesses. Written by chemistry professor Stephen Caddik at the University College of London, the article is realistic, positive and optimistic. Caddik highlights the value of people, the need for continued innovation, and an investment in Universities. Caddik closes with “we have the opportunity of a generation to build a sustainable economy for the 21st century – but we need to open our eyes and seize the opportunity.” Hear, hear – this is applicable to all nations.

Going for broke: how universities can deliver on their economic potential. by Professor Stephen Caddik.

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My Pearltrees are work in progress, though if you’d like to view my collection, please click here.Thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “Pearls of the Week: Perspectives on Education from the US, UK and Canada

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