"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quality Education

Male and female, old and young, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, more than a million people in the world have been asked what our priorities should be. And the voices around the world seem to sound as one: A good education is priority number one.

Above copied from
My World: The United Nations Global Survey for a Better World
Although it is not surprising to see so many aspire for good education, the road to a good educational system is still quite elusive. One may think that a good education is easy to define and that factors that lead to quality schooling are likewise straightforward to identify. But in a world of limited opportunities and resources, it is much more difficult. It does not take a lot of effort to make a "wish list". Everyone can do that. Everyone can aspire. The more challenging task is to figure out how we could reach such an objective.

The route to a high quality education is not that obvious. Evidence from peer reviewed research is important. Take, for example, preschool education. There is almost no argument against teaching children while they are young. Preschool education is considered good by everyone, yet not all preschool programs are good or even effective. Equally important, not every goal can be realistically assigned to a preschool. There is a limit to what preschools can do.

There is a recent research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education that examines what works in preschool education and in what areas such programs really have a significant effect. The paper published in the journal Child Development has the following abstract:


The study shows that a combination of evidence-based curriculum and trained (BA or masters' level) teachers can lead to significant improvements in academic skills (language, literacy, numeracy and mathematics). The curriculum covered by the study includes "Opening the World" for literacy and "Building Blocks" for mathematics. A successful program apparently also requires coaching through which experts provide model instruction, observe teachers, and offer constructive feedback. A successful program almost breathes like a living system, responding to the specific needs of a school or community. The study, of course, still has limitations, but one thing should be clear, preschool education is not like anything goes. Quality education in preschool does not happen with just volunteer teachers and any curriculum. In preschool, there are good and there are bad programs. That is why it is important to keep in mind that a million people across the globe did not just say "education", but "good education".





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