We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, And know the place for the first time. ~T.S. Eliot Four Quartets

04 September 2006

Downwardly mobile???

I've been doing some research for an article I want to write and came across a story from The Times newspaper, last year about education and economic success. Having my mind in two countries US/UK I find I'm always weighing the positives and negatives of each, and each has its own, and wondering where's the best place to raise the kids??

Some people never think about raising kids in terms of 'countries', but everyone wants the best for them. Being here, I don't have the reference of my childhood to share with my kids since this is not my country. My son has experienced some of life in America since he spent his first four years there, but my daughter probably won't have any experience of it. This is a bit strange for me. The article I read was about the demise of grammar schools in this country and how the poor are struggling even more. The study which was done by the London School of Economics looked at eight countries and found that social mobility was lower in Britain than anywhere else EXCEPT the United States --which goes against the whole idea of the American dream.

In the states, race is a major factor in the low social mobility, but in Britian its linked to class..to parents wealth which is linked to education. The four scandinavian countries performed the best.. with Norway having the greatest upward mobility. This also relates to the information I've gathered about education and school starting ages, where in scandinavia kids start school at seven years old and out perform every other nearby country. Scandinavian countries also seem to have very child friendly societies..They really do seem to have cornered a little bit of utopia up there.

Canada also faired well while Germany was in the middle with Britain and the US far behind. The gist was that basically in this country, the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. In America, it is the dream anyway, that the poor can pull themselves up.. As for me and most of the friends I grew up with, we were all the first in our families to go to university, the first to move up a notch. This seems somewhat harder to do in Britain, though for me I can't see exactly why. My husband feels it has to do with the social benefit system, which although it helps greatly, it can also be disabling, keeping motivation low, and hence keeping people stuck. But that doesn't account for Canada, Scandinavia and other European countries that also have a social benefits system. Hmm..

The article concluded that here, 20% of the population are functionally illiterate. In Scandinavia they don't have anybody in that position apparently. So the more time I spend here, the more I realize that the grass is not greener anywhere..even in this very 'green and pleasant land'. Its a little disheartening really, perhaps we should try and emigrate to scandinavia! Don't know if I could handle the cold and darkness...and that's the other side of the coin, I think its Finland that has something like the highest suicide rate .. due to the extended darkness (maybe if anyone from Finland reads this they can correct me if I'm wrong) so it all comes back to reality, and that no matter where you are you can't escape it

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