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.
Do you have more questions about how data is calculated? Ask them at data help desk or on Twitter with hashtag #dataquestion
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.