I have not been a very regular blogger of late, and I'm afraid I'm not going to improve any time soon. From now until at least the end of January is the busiest time of my year, so I'll be quiet for a while.
Did you see the PISA results? PISA is a world-wide study carried out every two years, which compares the effectiveness of national education systems around the world by randomly selecting students to set tests of numeracy and literacy. Over a half million children around the world take these tests, which are written in such a way as to eliminate any cultural or language bias.
Now those of you who know me well will be aware that I am not a great fan of exam results (because they tell us so very little about a child's learning), but in this country the ability of children to perform under test conditions is highly regarded, so I thought there might be some interest in the results.
(Google "PISA results")
There are two countries I'd like to draw your attention to, Finland and Singapore. Time after time these two countries are ranked at or near the top of the table, and I think it's interesting to look at one thing they have in common.
Finland has been around for some time, but Singapore is brand new. The BBC points out that it became an independent nation only in 1965 (I was in Grade 11), with a poor, unskilled, mostly illiterate workforce.
Both countries have invested heavily in education. In both countries, the teaching profession is the most highly regarded (and highly paid) of all professions. Consequently, the best and brightest of their young people compete for places at university in the most prestigious of all areas - the schools of education.
Both countries, I believe, have made a decision to direct the larger portion of their resources to the development of what they consider to be their most valuable natural resource, their children. And I find it very difficult to disagree with that policy.
I know some of you will be wondering "Where does India stand in all this?", and I'm not going to tell you, because I'd like you to be inquirers like your children and find out for yourself! (Google "PISA India" as a starting point)
This time, Singapore has emerged on the top of most of the tables - but they aren't celebrating. Because the ability of their education system to produce graduates who can think divergently and creatively, who are willing to take risks, collaborate and innovate, lags behind much of the rest of the world.
As I said, tests only give you a smal part of the picture.