Mapping the Education Superpowers

International education guru Andreas Schleicher has profound affection for data, as I’ve written before. This affection has fueled his quest to find and learn from the world’s top-performing education systems, helping to develop the OECD’s PISA test of 15-year-olds and share the findings far and wide. But his dedication to data can sometimes make it hard for regular humans to understand what he is saying.

Happily, in a TED talk (filmed this summer but posted online this month), Schleicher has distilled his thoughts into points that almost everyone can follow. You still can’t really see the data on his slides, but never mind that. His words get the job done. The data, I think, is really for him, like a security blanket woven by PowerPoint.

If you have 19 minutes for a coffee break, I’d suggest checking it out. If you don’t, here are a few highlights:

On Spending:

“Spending per student explains less than 20% of the performance variation between countries.”

On Cultural Capital:

“I know you won’t believe it, but there are countries in which the most attractive place to be is not the shopping center but the school. Those places exist.”

On Mindset:

“[P]lacing a high value on education is just part of the picture. The other part is to believe that all children are capable of success.”

EducationAmanda Ripley