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The often cited No. 1 country in the world for education–Finland–is changing everything. Or is it? According to The Independent (U. K.), students’ classes will be organized around interdisciplinary topics (cafeteria studies, European Union) rather than traditional subjects. But Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post reports that these topics are options that can be added to teachers’ curricula (which Finnish teachers are trusted to develop and implement). Leonid Bershidsky of Bloomberg puts in his two cents (couldn’t Bloomberg afford more?!) here.

Meanwhile, the United Nations reports that most countries are failing at providing education for all children.

Lily Britt, a PBHS alumni and a student at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., spoke to the local Rotary Club about her six-month travel exchange in Hong Kong. During her junior year at PBHS, Lily went to France on a Rotary Youth Exchange. Good to see our former “Traveling Tornadoes” still broadening their international experience!

Teachers for Global Classrooms is about to send a cadre of teachers to Uganda. Here’s an article about one of those teachers, in Virginia; an article about three graduates of the M. Ed. program at Northwestern University who are going, one of which was featured in the Chicago Tribune highlighting his assignment to retell Hamlet as a series of Tweets between characters. (Assignment: Whoever replies with the best 140-character version of Hamlet’s “O what a rogue and peasant slave am I” soliloquy wins the contents of this empty box by my feet.)

Traveling Tornadoes go to Costa Rica for Spring Break

This week is Spring Break in my district, and about a dozen students from my school are spending it on a service learning project in Costa Rica, helping to preserve mangroves. You can follow their blog here.

Can I get extra credit for wishing you Happy International Happiness Day?

I just came across two international stories with very little in common. First, Gallup conducted a survey to find out which countries are the happiest, and released the results today, International Happiness Day.

All of the top 10 countries are in (get ready for it) Latin America. Paraguay topped the list with a giddy 89, well ahead of the 84 posted by the bubbly runners-up: Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala. The United States was two points short of the top 10, its score of 79 tying with countries as satisfied and sundry as Argentina, the Netherlands, Sweden and Rwanda.

The U. S. score puts its happiness well above the global average of 71. The lowest score was Sudan’s 47, which by the way is nine points behind its recently seceded part, South Sudan. But before we attribute all unhappiness in the world to war, we must note that among the nations in between those two are the relatively peaceful but comparably dour Turkey (54) and Lithuania (55).

There’s just no accounting for what makes people happy. Read the original article from Gallup here.

Meanwhile, in India (which scored 70, tying it with indifferent nations like Ghana, Italy, Jamaica and Poland), 600 Class X students (10th graders) in Bihar have been expelled for cheating on the standard test they must pass in order to continue their schooling.

Now, students cheating would not normally be either newsworthy or potentially viral, but in our electronic-media-saturated world, when there is video of parents climbing the walls of the school to pass cheat sheets to their children, well, to repeat what countless say around the world with such things, you gotta see this.

(I will attest that during my trip to India, many of the educators I spoke with bemoaned the overemphasis on standardized testing in Indian education.)

No report yet from Gallup about India’s happiness score being artificially inflated due to survey respondents sharing answers.

Diplomats in Residence

I just stumbled upon this corner of the U. S. Department of State website the other day: Diplomats in Residence (DIRs). DIRs are spread across the country to provide information about careers and internships in foreign and civil service. Has anyone out there had a DIR come to your school? I’d be interested in hearing about it.

Virtual Study Abroad Fair: Feb. 25

CollegeWeekLive and the U. S. Department of State have combined to set up the online Virtual Study Abroad Fair from noon to 8 p.m. Eastern time online. Universities and schools from around the country will be discussing their programs.

What are the truths and myths of global top performing school systems?

Here is an interesting article from BBC News by the OECD director of education: “Seven big myths about top performing school systems.” I’m wondering if debunking these myths might lead to some truths (which I guess at this point would be hypotheses):

1. Talented teachers and school leaders can help students of all socioeconomic strata.

2. Education funds would be more effectively spent on classrooms and the people in them than anywhere else: competitive salaries, professional development, planning time.

3. All students can excel together.

4. Teach for depth, not breadth.

5. The liberal arts and sciences are still at the heart of a good education.

6. Hard work works.

Anybody know of studies that have tested these hypotheses?

Global education on YouTube

A couple of useful videos I came on across on YouTube (through other TGC particpants’ Pinterest boards): Here’s a thorough introduction to global education .

Here is a short promotion of using digital tools in education.

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