Quotes to Spark Discussion
Who doesn't love a good debate? Use the following quotes, or others, to get the class discussing what they believe. There are so many more great quotes and topics in this book than what I have listed. You could always let your students pull out quotes they found interesting. If you have enough time, try a 5-10 minutes discussion time at the beginning of each class. You could also have debate Fridays. Get the class talking, kids love to talk and have some great things to say.
- "Even if you were only 1/512 Indian, you could get the card, and it came with certain benefits, like free school supplies or access to a Cherokee food pantry." (pg. 27) - Why do you think this is? Do you agree with this practice?
- When the principal of Kim's high school in Sallisaw, Principal Martens, was asked about the Sallisaw alumni retaking high school level classes in college he said "'That really doesn't bother me,' he said 'because at least they are trying.'" (pg. 37) - Does this bother you? How would you handle this as a principal? Teacher? Student?
- A Korean teenager lied about his test scores and out of fear killed his mother. "Ji's crime was not, in the minds of many Koreans, an isolated tragedy; it was a reflection of a study-crazed culture that was driving children mad." (pg. 61) - Imagine the this happening in the U.S. How would people react?
- "Math had a way of predicting kids' futures. Teenagers who mastered higher-level math classes were far more likely to graduate from college, even when putting aside other factors like race and income. They also earned more money after college." (pg. 70) - Why do you think this is? Have you seen this first hand?
- "In fact, fifteen-year-olds whose parents talked about complicated social issues with them not only scored better on PISA but reported enjoying reading more overall." (pg. 109) - How involved are your parents? Do you want more or less attention? how can we change parent involvement?
- "Parents who volunteered in their kids' extracurricular activities had children who performed worse in reading, on average, than parents who did not volunteer, even after controlling for other other factors like socioeconomic background." (pg. 107) - Why? Do your parents volunteer? If so, does it have a positive or negative effect? Would you volunteer as a parent?
- "Parent who read to their children weekly or daily when whey were young raised children who scored twenty-five points higher on the PISA by the time they were fifteen years old." (pg. 110) - Why do you think this is? How can parents incorporate reading into each day?
- "By then, Eric had made a decision. He was going to drop out of Korean high school." (115). Does this surprise you? How long do you think you would last in a Korean high school?
- "Nine out of ten international students I surveyed said that U.S kids placed a higher priority of sports, and six out of ten American exchange students agreed with them." (118) Why do you think this is? Is this a problem? If so, how could we fix it?
- "In almost every other developed country, the schools with the poorest students had more teacher per student; the opposite was true in the United States." (140) Why is this? Should this change? How?
- "Andrew Kim earned $4 million in 2010." (169) Could this ever happen in the United States?
- "The stories of Finland, Korea, and Poland are complicated and unfinished. But they reveal what is possible." (199) What can we learn from these countries? How can the United States education system be reformed? What will you do?
Ken Robinson: How to escape education's death valley
In this is a TED talk Sir Ken Robinson covers three principles needed for the human mind to blossom. He examples how the education system hurts this. In his clever, witty way describes how to overcome the education death valley.
This could be used as a pre-reading to start up conversation and then could be revisited with a discussion about how the students' opinions have change.
Dan Meyer: Math class needs a make over
In this TED talk, high school math teacher, Dan Meyer, explains the way math is taught in the United States and the error within it. He discusses the need to build math reasoning and how he does this in his classroom.
This video could be used as a visual aid to the touches on math education in The Smartest Kids in the World. Note: There is an approximately 5 minute animation at the end (in the imbed youtube version) that does not connect with the TED talk and can easily be skipped.
TED talk project
Break the classroom into four even groups. Each group will be given a country, either the United States, Poland, South Korea, or Finland. Then hold a debate. Each team has to support their country as the best of education. You can let the students choose their country but odds are the teams would be uneven. I recommend giving the countries at random, this way students may be given a country whose education system they don't agree with. by doing this the students will have to look for the positive even if they don't think there are any. This activity helps students to understand each country's education system, compare the countries, and work on public speaking and communication skills.
Teach a Day in Their Shoes
TED talks, like the two above, are great tools to go into more depth and hear individual opinions. Although, instead of just showing these videos in class, consider having your students create their own. There are many ways to go about this but here are some general guidelines:
Once again this can be done is several different ways. Ultimately the class will be involved in either a lesson or entire day that is modeled after a lesson in a different country. Here are some ideas: