How do demographers figure out how many people live on Earth? Can they accurately calculate the number of people that have ever lived? You asked our data help desk these questions, and our open data whiz drew the answers in this video.
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I’ve been happy ever since the World Bank has made its database freely available online. It’s been a great resource for my own work—but especially so for my students.
If you’re a kid in Finland, you don’t start school until you’re 7 years old. There’s almost no homework until you’re a teenager. You don’t wear a uniform, you can call your teacher by his first name, and you can attend class barefoot if the mood strikes you. It’s always casual Friday, and you spend fewer hours in the classroom than students in the rest of the developed world.
Despite—or because of—this leisurely approach, the Finnish educational system is one of the world’s finest. Finland’s literacy rate is 100 percent. When the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development administers its standardized reading and math exams to students from around the world, Finnish pupils regularly come out at or near the top.
What makes these results more amazing is that just four decades ago, Finland’s academic record was a mess. In the 1970s, though, the government did something extraordinary to combat lax education: It mandated that every teacher earn a master’s degree, even agreeing to foot the bills for the extra schooling. Teaching’s prestige skyrocketed; becoming a teacher in Finland is now as tough as becoming a lawyer. Only one in 10 primary school applicants makes the cut! Today, the rest of the world is scrambling to follow Finland’s example as its hyper-educated population continues to boost the country’s productivity. Maybe we should all kick off our shoes and learn a few things.
The Finish example is by far the most impressive (and transferable one). But the Swiss example isn’t bad, either.
19.04.2013 / 21:27
As many I was deeply shocked by the tragedy that occurred in Boston earlier this month. It was a stark reminder of the fact that any of us could be a victim of senseless violence anywhere at any moment.
As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect. The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities - the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation.
As the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman noted in his message to President Obama, the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism. We are determined to stand side by side with our allies in this respect, there is no doubt about that.
Ambassador of the Czech Republic
There are a number of things that are sad about the Boston terrorist attack. One of them, is that one of our allies (part of the “New Europe” part of NATO) believes it’s necessary to make such a statement. They know so well how little the American public knows—and the tragic consequences of that.
I remember my own experience. I was a recent immigrant from Bolivia during the 1986 airstrikes against Libya, which were in retaliation for Gaddafi’s involvement in the Berlin disco bombing that killed three and wounded several hundred. After living for a year in my new neighborhood, I still had to regularly explain to my 5th grade classmates that I was from Bolivia, not Libya. And remind them that, until recently, they thought I was “Mexican.” But I’ll never forget how uncomfortable some stares became, from kids I spent most days playing backyard baseball or football.
In the days, weeks, and months that follow. It would be worthwhile to stop and ask ourselves—as a country—why we react this way. And whether our lack of knowledge about the rest of the world in any way contributes to our lack of security. Or, at the very least, why our own allies don’t trust us to distinguish between nationalities.