The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 3/3

30 Aug

When it was discovered that the Whole Language approach to teaching reading failed, instead of admitting they were wrong, the idealists behind the theory blamed America’s public school teachers.

To punish those teachers, what followed was a movement for school choice designed to allow parents to select the school their children attends. Although voters have rejected this theory in many states, the fanatics behind this movement refuse to surrender.

The next debacle was when President G. W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law, which ignored reality while blaming teachers again for the failure of a theory that many teachers were against but were forced to implement.

The Singapore element to the solution of this educational fiasco in the United States may be found in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind, which says, “Meritocracy is a basic political ideology and a fundamental principle in Singapore’s education system, which aims to identify and groom bright young students for positions of leadership. The system places a great emphasis on academic performance in grading students and granting their admission to special programmes and universities.

“As for discipline in Singapore’s schools, corporal punishment is legal (for male students only), and fully encouraged by the government in order to maintain strict discipline.”

In addition, Singapore has a law that makes it a criminal offense for parents of children that cut school.

To learn more of the details behind the success of Singapore’s public schools, I suggest you see SG’s post about Singapore Education.

Unless the United States is willing to trust teachers and implement some of what Finland and Singapore have done, education in the US will continue to flounder regardless of laws such as No Child Left behind or failed theories such as Whole Language.

However, implementing these changes will not be easy, because idealists are often fanatics that refuse to surrender.

One well know example of this type of idealistic movement is Al Qaeda—the fanatical Islamic terrorists responsible for 9/11.

The best way to deal with America’s fanatics is to remove the public schools from the political system and trust the teachers to do whatever it takes to teach America’s youth.

Return to The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 2 or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves


Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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