Subscriber Services
Weather

Sunday, October 21, 2007

LATIN AMERICAN SCHOOLS GET A "D" IN EDUCATION

One of the things that struck me the most during a recent visit to India was that amid growing competition for educational excellence children have to pass rigorous admission tests starting at kindergarten. What a difference with what's happening in Latin America! Read the whole column here, and let us know what you think.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

from: Paul Thørsen
PThorsen240@aol.com

åndèrš, I know full well what's going on. Just like me, I never wanted to study when I was a kid, I only wanted to play. I saw school as punishment. Hispanick kids have that same mindset, they just want to play and wouldn't be caught dead in a computer lab. Face it, Hispanicks aren't a bunch of shy, quiet nerdy Miscrosoft types. Just as their conquistador ancestors were, Hispanicks are of an unprincipled and punk mindset. You cannot change that. You cannot change the genetic makeup of a person. I think any studious, nerdy types would be thrown the hell out of Latin America. Just as such people would be thrown the hell out of Anglo trailer parks and Idaho and rural USA.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from: Paul Thørsen
PThorsen240@aol.com

åndèrš, I would bet you anything that the kids in Brasil with Japanese, German and Italian last names have good test scores. Just as I suspect that in Arhentina, the kids who have Italian and German last names have good test scores.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous andres c said...

it's sad to see how a person can be so incoherent as Paul T.

First he says he was a lazy kid, but then he criticizes lazy kids, and then he says german and italian names make you bright.

So is he a lazy farmer, or a bright boy? Oh wait, Thorsen is a swedish last name, thats why he isn't bright.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Carlos Erban said...

I am shocked by the constant barrage of racist comments against Hispanics. I am for freedom of speech, but some of these comments should be removed.

For people that are serious about this issue, I think that these macro-figures are a 50,000 feet view, are based on mean values, and miss on some realities about the education level in Latin America.

I arrived to the U.S. when I was 13 years old and all the students like me from Latin America were automatically placed 2 or 3 years ahead in science and math. We caught in English within 3 months. If you review the list of High School Valedictorians and Salutatorians in S. Florida, you will notice most are Hispanics. I was one of them. I went to Harvard and had the same experience. Most students from Latin America stood-out. The same happens at MIT. As a matter of fact, if you look at the numbers of Professors at MIT and Harvard for Math and Sciences, it is disproportionaley high for foreigners. If you visit MIT's campus, you feel that you are in Asia or Latin America!

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am of Hispanic descent and representative of the unheralded Hispanic achievers in education.
The problem is not that there are not enough smart and capable Hispanics, but that the Latin-American educational system is inadequate as is the level of commitment by many parents in the poor countries of latin america to encourage educational achievement in countries where the benefits have histocially lagged the benefits available in more equitable and developed countries.
Development, reform, and some level of equality of opportunity for scholastics achievement in Latin American society would help prepare these countries and the people to change. Until such changes, however, Latin American schools are lucky to get the "D" from this article.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Argenlibre said...

FUERZA ARGENTINOS !!!! VAMOS QUE PODEMOS !!!!!!!!1

DEFENDE TU DERECHO, TU LIBERTAD, LIBEREMOS A LOS MAS POBRES DE LA MISERIA.

ESTE 28 DE OKTUBRE, DECILE NO A LOS KORRUPTOS
SI !! A UNA MEJOR VIDA Y RUMBO AL PROGRESO.

DEFENDETE, DEFENDE A LOS QUE NO PUEDEN

VAMOS, VAMOS QUE PODEMOS !!!!!!!!!!!


FUERZA ARGENTINO
FUERZA REPUBLICANO

MOVIMIENTO ARGENLIBRE
argenlibre.blogspot.com

9:59 PM  
Blogger E. R. Mellor said...

Dear Mr. Oppenheimer,
Upon reading your article on Latin American schools are lacking, I
found that your statement that students
can go " from kindergarten to giant state-run universities such as
Mexico/s National Autonomous University" misleading.
In my 20 years of experience in working in education in Mexico I found
that there were numerous tests which students had
to take and pass in order to move from sixth grade to "secundaria" to
"preparatoria" to the university. As a matter of fact, they
had regular tests each year and would have to repeat the course/grade
if they did not pass. There is no social promotion.
IF this has changed, which I seriously doubt, my apologies. But a
blanket statement as you made is not considered accurate
journalism since you would have given credit for having had these in
the past. That they are not doing standardized "US" type test
is another matter. The curriculum itself in the secondary and
preparatory levels is more stringent that that the US has. There are
no
electives - students are there for the purpose established without
frills. Unfortunately, few students manage to get through the entire
schooling but that is not due to the education program.
Having had a choice of an American curriculum or a Mexican curriculum
for my own children - I chose the Mexican one which prepared
them to enter Princeton and other universities due to their
preparation and not to test-prep courses to pass the SATs. Many of the
private school students
get to enter fine universities or else how can they have politicians
educated in Harvard, etc?
Please get a bit more background.
I have always read and admired your articles until now. Now I will
take them with a grain of salt.
Sincerely,
E. R. Mellor

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Oppenheimer,
Upon reading your article on Latin American schools are lacking, I
found that your statement that students
can go " from kindergarten to giant state-run universities such as
Mexico/s National Autonomous University" misleading.
In my 20 years of experience in working in education in Mexico I found
that there were numerous tests which students had
to take and pass in order to move from sixth grade to "secundaria" to
"preparatoria" to the university. As a matter of fact, they
had regular tests each year and would have to repeat the course/grade
if they did not pass. There is no social promotion.
IF this has changed, which I seriously doubt, my apologies. But a
blanket statement as you made is not considered accurate
journalism since you would have given credit for having had these in
the past. That they are not doing standardized "US" type test
is another matter. The curriculum itself in the secondary and
preparatory levels is more stringent that that the US has. There are
no
electives - students are there for the purpose established without
frills. Unfortunately, few students manage to get through the entire
schooling but that is not due to the education program.
Having had a choice of an American curriculum or a Mexican curriculum
for my own children - I chose the Mexican one which prepared
them to enter Princeton and other universities due to their
preparation and not to test-prep courses to pass the SATs. Many of the
private school students
get to enter fine universities or else how can they have politicians
educated in Harvard, etc?
Please get a bit more background.
I have always read and admired your articles until now. Now I will
take them with a grain of salt.
Sincerely,
Elva Mellor

11:29 PM  
Blogger P said...

The lack of education in Latin America makes it very hard when I'm working as a Spanish interpreter. It's hard to explain that someone not only doesn't know English, but that they don't know their own language either. It's discouraging. Some examples:

I have had to help many people spell their own names.

Medical situations can be tricky. For many, "El pie," runs from their hip to their toes. Similarly, "la mano" can run from the fingertips to the shoulder.

In one of her workshops, author and interpreter Holly Mikkelson gives lack of education as one of the main reasons for Spanglish. She points out that the Spanish word for "roof" is "techo" and a roofer is a "techero." Even so, many Spanish speakers working in that field in the US say they're "ruferos."

The great disparity in education makes it hard to find Spanish reading material, even here in San Diego. There is an abundance of high-flown prose, for reading after your PhD. There are also many trashy photo-comics. Finding mid-level publications like Mexico's PROCESO is difficult.

I have experience teaching in Guerrero. Books are rare in Mexico. The kids copy a lot from the board. I helped some kids with their English lessons. The teacher had written many phrases. For example, "I like" was paired with a long list of nouns. Often the resulting phrases were either improbable, inappropriate, or downright ribald. There are no substitute teachers. If the teacher is sick, the kids get released.

Mexican politicians often talk about how the country is poised to go high tech. It's not going to happen soon.

Peter Laurence
San Diego, So far so good, between the Harris and Witch fires.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Gus said...

This headline looks like any other newspaper headline about the region. What makes it different from other opinion columns is the fact that it was written by a so-call expert in Latin-American affairs who has himself a Latin heritage. This newspaper article is a good example of the common mistake that academics and policy-makers usually make when they are dealing with the Latin-American region. Nowadays, this common mistake is usually associated with the widely held belief that governments and society in general have failed to adopt "successful" strategies to achieve economic development that are currently being used by the new global powers like China, India, and many Asiatic countries.

Although the economic achievements of China and India cannot be denied, the contrasting of the educational system between these countries and the Latin-American region is totally misplaced. It is true that the educational levels of children, teenagers, and adults in the region are not as good as they could probably be. Many imperfections are visible and strong reforms are necessary to steer brainpower into economic power. The fundamental flaw of the main topic of this article can be traced to a fundamental misunderstanding of the region. This criticism of the educational system is the gateway we will use to see how economic development in the region is really being delayed by the lack of understanding of the unique, confusing, and diverse set of political, social, and economic circumstances of the region.

First, it is necessary to understand that the region cannot be judge -or even changed- by adopting theories or paradigms created for other nations, governments, countries, political views, etc. The biggest problem that has plagued Latin-America since its earliest times is the lack of confidence. The governments, societies, and inhabitants of the region are always looking for methodologies created by others under different circumstances to solve local problems.

Just as centuries ago the adoption of the so-called French civil law was hailed as a "huge political achievement" because it would spur another industrial revolution in the region, nowadays authors vigorously claim for the use of intense (Chinese and Indian) models of education as the way to foster economic development as this newspaper article proudly states. To foster economic development through the improvement of educational systems in the region must be tied to a new -and ground breaking- understanding of the ethos of the region. Unless we are capable of finding out who we are and stop fighting over historic events taking place in other regions of the world, no reform would be effective because it will not have a real impact on the life of the people. It would be just another attempt to the so-called educational debacle by adopting foreign ideas -successful for others, instead of adjusting our current institutional structures to the ethos (spirit) of the region.

1:26 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home