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What we can Learn from Education in the USA

James (26) is a Primary Teacher working through Protocol Education in Nottingham. Today he asks what we in the UK can learn from the way things are done in the USA!

What can we learn from education in the USA?

Over the last few weeks I have been fortunate enough to visit several elementary schools while on a trip to the USA. While there I noticed some interesting features of the US education system that could potentially work well in the UK. I would love to hear all the blog readers’ thoughts on these…

While the curriculum and subject matter are very similar to those in the UK I have noticed three key areas in which the USA system has impressed:

Firstly there is a HUGE community spirit within schools and the catchment area they serve, especially when it comes to sports and performing arts. Every school has a nickname, whether it’s the Hurricanes, Panthers, Tigers, etc. The effort that goes into extra-curricular activities is immense and although it is such a large task, the benefits were immediately clear. Older children are interested to know how the younger ones got on in their Friday night basketball game and vice versa. Spectator turnout for even the 9 year old's games is larger than any I have seen in the UK. There is a real community and feel-good vibe. I understand that teacher workload in the UK is at an all-time high but if you can get a really effective extra-curricular program then you can really see the rewards.

Secondly, I really like the fact that many USA schools have their primary (elementary) and secondary (high school) schools on the same site. As the children progress into high school they are able to maintain sentimental links with their elementary school. Furthermore, they can maintain contact with their old teachers, keep track of how their sports teams are doing and even volunteer to help with lower school sports events or musical performances. At the same time it also makes it less daunting to make the transition from elementary to high school.

The third element I have noticed is the USA’s approach to formative assessment. The USA places much less pressure on students when it comes to the amount of exams and coursework each year. Increasingly in the UK I have noticed a tendency of schools ‘teaching to the mark scheme’, simply covering the material required for an exam ‘parrot style’.  Here they place more emphasis on problem solving and finding solutions using a method, not simply copying an answer word-for-word.

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I would love to hear your comments on whether or not you believe any of these ideas could work in the UK. Maybe you have worked in the USA and want to share your views? Please feel free to share your views!

Read more of Jame's Protoblogs here.

Tags: James, Teach in UK, Teach in Nottingham, Education System, Primary Teacher, Teach Supply, Teach in Nottingham, Protocol Education, USA

Category: Australian Teachers

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