What Makes a Good School?

6, 7, 8

Students compare and contrast attributes of school systems across the globe. They will work in small groups to identify the successes and possible school improvements in their own school system and in vulnerable schools around the world.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session

The learner will:

  • compare and contrast educational practices around the world.
  • identify where local and global schools succeed and fall short of goals.
  • identify government, business, and family failure related to education.
  • student copies of Schooling Across the Globe worksheet
  • chart paper and markers
  • five paper signs to hang around the room with the following text written on them: School Year, School Day, Class Size, Typical Studies, Interesting Facts
  • global: related to issues across the globe—a perspective that takes into account the interconnectedness of people, countries, and institutions from across the world
  • responsibility: the task one is trusted to perform


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell the students that you will read a series of statements about making school a better place to learn. Tell them to stand on the north side of the room if they agree with the statement and the south side if they disagree (designate where they stand for each; north and south used as examples here). Read one of the following statements and then have students get up and stand on one side of the room or other. Discuss their choices briefly before reading another statement. Statements: School would be a better place to learn . . . if we had more books to read. . . . if there was one teacher for every ten students. . . . if there were more breaks and a longer day. . . . if food was provided by school.

  2. Give each student a copy of the Schooling across the Globe (Handout One) information sheet and have them look at the table, comparing the school characteristics of different countries. As they read, students should think about what school features might make schools better for all learners.

  3. Ask them to each pick out one feature that they think helps kids to learn better and highlight it on the worksheet.

  4. Tell them to move into small groups based on the school attribute they highlighted on the worksheet. To do this, create the following signs (based on the worksheet categories) and hang them on the walls around the room: School Year, School Day, Class Size, Typical Studies, and Interesting Facts. Tell students to stand by the sign that names the category they highlighted on the worksheet. In these small groups, students discuss the following questions:

    • What was the most interesting fact to you and why?
    • Are governments around the world making sure all children are educated?
    • What is the main goal of education locally? Globally?
    • What does our school do well to prepare students for life as successful adults?
    • What can schools do better?
  5. Return to a whole class and have each group share a concise answer to each question. Write the groups’ answers on three chart papers with the following headings: Main Goal of School, What Our School Does Well, and School Improvement Ideas. When all groups have reported, discuss their ideas as a whole group.

  6. Ask:

    • How do you think quality education affects the whole country? The whole world?
    • What responsibility do government, business, family, and the civil society sector have to ensure quality education?
    • Do students have a responsibility to make their own school better?
    • What can we do to improve schools where governments and businesses have failed?
    • Can young people make a difference in the most vulnerable schools in the world?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Give examples of needs not met by the government, business, or family sectors.