#82 Lessons from the World's Best Schools: Lucy Crehan

What we can learn from the best education systems in the world? A lot.

We learn about PISA - The Program for International Student Assessment - and why this international test on math, science and reading has disturbing results for U.S. schools.

 

We interviewed British teacher Lucy Crehan, author of the breakthrough book, "Cleverlands", went on a remarkable journey to Finland, Asia and Canada, to study the world’s best schools. We find out why a simple question from a student in her science class, “Miss, why do we sneeze?" sent Lucy on a two-year quest to learn how to improve schools. 

Playful, enthusiastic, and full of common sense, "Cleverlands" is a personal story, an adventure, and a how-to book on how everyone can improve children’s education.
 
Lucy paints a picture of school life, making sense of the theories and data through the stories of teachers and children.

Solutions:

  • Get children ready for formal learning. Early education is important but don’t focus on academic skills. The most effective programs build motivation, character, and cognitive skills through playful learning.
  • Play is very important; children develop skills through play, such as self-regulation, planning and language development. One of the top performing school systems don't begin formal academic instruction until age 7.
  • Let children take breaks. 4 out of the 5 school systems Lucy studied had 10–15 minute breaks between every lesson.
  • Encourage children to take on challenges rather than making concessions: Delay dividing students into different classes based on ability until age until 15.
  • Emphasize the importance of effort rather than intelligence. It’s easier for children to tackle a challenge if they believe they can change the outcome through hard work. 
  • Combine school accountability with school support. Instead of punishing "bad" schools, provide more help and examples from successful educators and schools.
  • State and local boards of education should design a curriculum with a set of principals rather than detailed instructions for every week of the school year. This gives teachers greater job satisfaction, more autonomy and freedom to motivate students to do their best.