What U.S. Schools Can Learn From Russia

By Daniel A. Domenech


“Those of us who have traveled to [other] countries come away with the same conclusion,” Domenech writes: “Their students are more disciplined and full of rote knowledge that comes in handy when being tested—but they lack the independent thinking and creativity that is a hallmark of our system of education.” 

“Learning Leadership” column, Jan. 2013 edition of eSchool NewsThere is a tendency to beat up on our public schools based on the performance of American students on international tests. The impression that is created is that our schools are not as good as those in the rest of the world.

Let me tell you, that’s a crock.

I’ve had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the world, and generally our schools are the envy of other countries.

Conclusions based on international test results compare apples and oranges. Finland is a wonderful country with a great school system—but it’s the size of Montana, with a population of five million. Singapore is even smaller than Finland, and last I heard, Shanghai is a region of China, not a country. Those comparisons are just not valid or productive.

There are, however, many things that we can learn from other countries. When I travel and visit schools in other parts of the world, I am not looking to establish our superiority. I am looking for things they do different or better than us—practices we might learn from and, if applicable, adopt here in the U.S.

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