Week 3- Social Barometers


Explore social barometers – summarizes of multicultural lives in diverse nations

Dan Bradley

EDU: 657- Global Connections in Education


A constant discussion in the United States surrounding education, is how we do gauge our system versus those of other countries. Though I have always felt these discussions fail to take into account several significant factors that differentiates the United States from other countries, it does not mean the discussion holds no merit. Being able to study, learn, and implement strategies used by countries around the world can be very beneficial in how we can better educate our current and future students.

Though not all of the sources were educationally focused, I did want to focus on the topic first. One of the more interesting notes I took from browsing the resources that detailed education in different parts of the world, is how different places determine what drives student success. A 2015 study from the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) particularly focused on economic means and the impact it had on students. The CAHS notes that there are, “huge discrepancies… apparent between those with means and those without. Public policy continues to apply child-focused solutions, when many problems emanate from family poverty due to parental education levels that lead to low wage jobs (Kids Count 1).” The CAHS’s findings indicate the necessity to improve student success, is heavily reliant on the ability to break generational poverty, and find economic ways to improve students’ lives so they may have the ability to succeed in education and beyond.

In 2017, Australia utilized a Gallup Poll to question their student population that focused on a student’s state of mind and emotional well-being in order to better understand student success. The Australian poll was to help measure and show, “that hope, engagement and well-being are key factors that drive students’ grades, achievement scores, retention and future employment (Australia Overall 2017). It was interesting to note how the entire focus of this poll was centered on emotionality and how important it is for a student, even without an economic aspect. The socio-economic standing of a student undoubtedly plays a significant role in a student’s achievement, but the idea of highlighting the impact a student’s mental outlook is something I think we should do more in the United States. It often feels like students look at emotionality as either a crutch or a negative, but if we can shift that narrative to the positive aspects of introspection and identifying our mental strengths and weaknesses, I think we could truly find a better way to motivate students that may have trouble in that regard.

Continuing with an educational focus, the Anna Lindh Report on intercultural trends within Europe and the Mediterranean region was very fascinating. It was very interesting to see the cultural differences between an area, that frankly I do not know if a lot of people would think are extremely different. One of the first aspects the survey discussed was that, “nearly six in ten respondents from the southern and eastern Mediterranean thought that it was most important to European parents that their children learnt how to be independent (57%), and 44% thought their kids to be curious. Only one in five Europeans, however, had mentioned independence in first or second place (19%) as a key value of their education, and only 13% had done so for curiosity (Intercultural Trends).” The numbers were essentially flipped when the survey asked about respect, solidarity, and obedience. From the beginning the survey does a very good job showing how independence versus obedience are valued within the two regions, and offers some insight on how to blend the two in order to create a more cohesive and connected region. Cultural identity is important and should be cherished, but as the world moves to an even more connected and interdependent society, it is extremely important for different cultures to better understand each other. Studies such as the Anna Lindh 2010 survey should become more common and more prevalent so all cultures can begin to examine similarities and differences and how to better teach our children how to make connections to people that are different than them.

Along the same lines with the Anna Lindh Report; in 2008, the Eurobarometer published a survey on Intercultural Dialogue in Europe in conjunction with the Gallup Organization. Europe throughout time has always offered a lot in regards to bettering the human species, but I think one of the most important aspects Europe can now offer the world is their connectedness between cultures. Due to such close geographical positioning, it is extremely common for an everyday European to be able to speak multiple languages and travel between several countries, all within one day. As we have seen in the Anna Lindh report, for such close proximity to other nations, countries within Europe have a significant amount of cultural differences. The study even showed that, “Two-thirds (65%) of respondents in the 27 EU Member States were able to recall any interaction with at least one person either of a different religion, ethnic background or nationality (either EU or non-EU) than their own in the seven days prior to being questioned (Intercultural Dialogue).” I would be shocked if numbers like these could be matched in any other place in the world. Even more important, is that the study found that, “A remarkably high number (83%) of EU citizens that agreed about the benefits of intercultural contacts.” Combined with the Anna Lindh report, these findings show how cross-cultural learning is often widely accepted and seen as a benefit to society. Like other studies, the Eurobarometer did note that many participants did also feel the desire to keep certain traits of their own culture, but not in a way that shuts out people that differ from them. It is encouraging to see that more and more people are realizing the importance of learning about different cultures and finding ways to incorporate different social norms to their everyday life. I think it is important for all people to recognize that being open to different cultures, learning about what makes the unique and successful, and finding ways to integrate some of those practices does not have to come at the expense of losing your ‘home’ culture.

Lastly, focusing on a more global examination, the Social Progress Imperative (SPI) looks to ‘rank’ countries and regions based upon their ability to meet basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, and opportunity (Social Progress Imperative). SPI defines social progress as, “the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.” The findings from the SPI analysis on the surface are not extremely surprising. Western cultures seem to score the highest in all three categories, while many countries in Africa and Asia did not score as high. This can be attributed to several causes including poor economic standing, war, famine, and governmental instability. The higher stability in a country, and more modernized the country is, the better chances there are for a higher standard of living and attainable social progress. Though there is a wide array of success throughout the world, and not every metric is seeing sustained growth and improvement, SPI notes that, “overall social progress is improving.”



Brockmeyer, R. & Horowitz, S. (2015). Building Opportunities: Two Generations at a Time; 2015 Connecticut Kids Count Data Book. Connecticut Association of Human Services. Retrieved from, https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AEBLzlnfvuXmuc&cid=102C5AA0B6ED1699&id=102C5AA0B6ED1699%21131752&parId=102C5AA0B6ED1699%21131750&o=OneUp

Gallup Student Poll Report (2017). Australian Gallup Student Poll Results. Australia Overall. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/dbradley/Downloads/Gallup_Student_Poll_Report_Australia_2017.pdf

Euromed Intercultural Trends 2010 THE Anna Lindh Report (2010). Anna Lindh Foundation. Retrieved from: https://www.unaoc.org/docs/Press%20Kit%20%20Anna%20Lindh%20Report%202010%20EN.pdf

Porter, Michael E., Stern, Scott, and Green, Michael. Social Progress Index (2017). Social Progress Imperative. Retrieved from, http://www.socialprogressindex.com/overview

Intercultural Dialogue in Europe (2008). Flash Eurobarometer, European Commission. The Gallup Organization and Commission Directorate General Education and Culture. Retrieved from, http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/flash/fl_217_sum_en.pdf