Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The One-Sixth of Germany Issue

Two weeks ago....the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) stood up and put out a report after surveying education around the world.  The report was referred to as....the PISA Report.

It's basically an intelligence test that looks at adults, and the education they accumulated in their earlier years.  It's basically measuring where you stand.....after finishing school and going out into the real world.  The test used to be the standard for kids upon ending school.....not for measuring adults later.

Most folks wouldn't care about this type of knowledge or how folks fit into the real world.  The supreme attitude by the education sector?  Get students to a point....test them....graduate them....and move on.  It's a simple attitude in Germany, and it works.

Well....the OECD came back with an interesting find.  Roughly fifteen percent or one-sixth of the German population of adults....can read or write or comprehend.....at the sixth-grade level.  Adding to the issue?  They can only understand orders or directions....if written in bullet-format and kept to a very simple level.

I read over the commentary, which led to some odd conclusions.  A fair portion of the German adult population can't really take a statistical situation or a simple problem requiring analysis......then turn it into a solution of sorts.  Graphics, pie charts, numerical displays?  You will find problems with a fair number of German adults.  So in turn, they turn to the university graduate or more highly educated guy.....to do simplier problems or analysis.....that a high school graduate ought to be able to handle.

In some ways....they are turning university graduates into problem solvers.....to a more extreme value.  If the ice cream shop on the corner isn't making a profit.....the folks running it, or the owner.....ought to be able to sense where profits are diminished.....fix the problem, and recover enough to find success.  If the German gift shop is on marginal profit status.....they ought to know enough to analyze and solve their own mess.  The truth is.....they'd have to hire someone to think for them....analyze.....and tell them in simple fashion what the changes need to be.

I've lived off and on in Germany for over twenty years, and seen countless examples of how a complex situation had developed and overcome a group of Germans, or a small business.  When you look at German financial bankruptcy issues (routinely featured on German reality shows).....you find a curious group of adults with no real ability to see what they have coming in (usually one or two pay-checks), and what is going out.  Experts have to be called in and spend half-a-day looking at bills to determine the monthly cost to the family.  

With this report, I can sense now what the overall issue is.  Course, it's hard to imagine what the German education sector will say about this.  Their job was to educate Huns to some point, test Huns, and then graduate Huns.  The fact that Huns forgot most of what they taught him over the next ten years.....isn't their problem or fault.

Then, we come to this odd problem with Germans understanding what is delivered on the nightly news.  If some journalist says you have problem X, Y, and Z.....in simple bullet texts.....then Huns sees the news and believes it.  Huns doesn't stop at that point.....question the journalist.....or ask for more evidence or statistics.  We can assume that one-sixth of German society (or more).....function only with this simple delivery process via the news.  They really don't want more information or knowledge over something....because they can't really handle it.

Where does this lead?  It's hard to say.  Germans aren't the type to jump up.....rush to conclusions.....or demand immediate fixes to a problem.  Sadly, this one-sixth of the population aren't worried about this issue because they've been doing fine over the past twenty to forty years with limited knowledge.  The education system?  Well...their primary question would be.....how would you fix it when some student twenty years later admits they forgot sixty percent of what was taught to them?

It's an odd problem for German society to face, and I doubt if anyone really wants to dive into it or fix it.

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