Education in the USA seen by a Scandinavian

Transcript and Vocabulary

Silhouette Man wonders WTF is wrong with Americans

  • Silhouette /ˌsɪl.uˈet/ (n.) : a dark shape seen against a light surface. Here, we do not see the face of the person, we only see the shape of his body: that’s his silhouette.
  • WTF (offensive, slang, written abbreviation) = What The Fuck: to show that you are surprised or annoyed, or do not care about something.

Here in the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden), universal access to free higher education is a no-brainer.

  • Nordic /ˈnɔː.dɪk/ (adj) from or relating to the people of Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden as mentioned, but also Iceland and sometimes Greenland)
  • Universal /ˌjuː.nɪˈvɜː.səl/ (adj). Here: accessible to everyone (it can also mean: existing everywhere or involving everyone)
  • No-brainer (informal) /ˌnəʊˈbreɪnər/ something that is very simple to do or to understand, or a decision that is very easy to take

That’s because we know that education is the ultimate investment in the future.

  • Ultimate /ˈʌltɪmət/ (adj) final or most important.
  • Investment /ɪnˈvestmənt/ (n.) something that you do or have, in order to have more in the future

In addition to not having any tuition fees, all students receive a monthly grant to help cover their living expenses.

  • tuition fees /tjuːˈɪʃ.ən fiː/ (n.) the amount of money that students need to pay to go to school
  • grant /ɡrɑːnt/ (n.) an amount of money given especially by the government to a person or organization for a special purpose, here for studying.
  • cover /ˈkʌv.ər/ (v.) here: to be able to take care of or to pay for

Of course, that does result in higher taxes.

But free education reduces social inequality and benefits both individuals and society in the long run.

  • social /ˈsəʊ.ʃəl/ (adj) relating to society and living together in an organized way
  • inequality /ˌɪn.ɪˈkwɒl.ə.ti/ (n.) the unfair situation in society when some people have more opportunities, money, etc. than other people
  • benefit /ˈben.ɪ.fɪt/ (v.) to be helped by something or to help someone
  • society /səˈsaɪ.ə.ti/ (n.) a large group of people who live together in an organized way, making decisions about how to do things and sharing the work that needs to be done. All the people in a country, or in several similar countries, can be referred to as a society

An educated population equals a strong, stable state, ready for the future. So the investment is well worth it.

  • equal /ˈiː.kwəl/ (v.) the same as … is … =…
  • state /steɪt/ (n.) a country or government
  • be worth it /wɜːθ/ (adj): to be of reasonable or good value for the price

It’s really as simple as that …

… which is why I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.

If I may be so direct, just WTF are you Americans thinking?

  • direct /daɪˈrekt/ (adj.) Here = honest. It describes someone who says what they think in a very honest way without worrying about other people’s opinions
  • WTF (offensive, slang, written abbreviation) = What The Fuck: to show that you are surprised or annoyed, or do not care about something.
[Graph showing student loan debt growing considerably between 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2011]
  • debt /det/ (n.) something, especially money, that is owed to someone else, or the state of owing something

You make your own people go into often crippling debt, just to become educated, and just as they’re trying to get started in life.

  • crippling /ˈkrɪp.lɪŋ/describes something that causes someone serious injuries or harm

You’ve unleashed 100s of expensive for-profit “schools” to prey upon your own citizens.

  • unleash /ʌnˈliːʃ/ (v.) to allow, to release, or to suddenly cause a violent force that cannot be controlled
  • for-profit (adj) that focuses on making money
  • to prey upon/prey on sb /preɪ/ (v) to hurt or deceive a group of people, especially people who are weak or can easily be hurt or deceived
  • citizen /ˈsɪtɪzən/ (n.) someone who lives in a particular town or city
[Logos: University of Phoenix, KAPLAN University, Everest, Capella University, Shareholders’ University, DeVry University]
  • Note: all these universities are for-profit universities. They are considered by many people to be more like companies to make money first rather than focusing on educating people.
[Prisons over students:] You spend more on your prisons that on your students.

[Military over students:] And among the top 15 countries by military expenditures, you’re number 1 … and spend as much as the other 14 combined.

  • expenditure (n) /ɪkˈspendɪtʃər/ the amount of money that is spent
  • combined: put together.

Meanwhile, your rich own most of your politicians, and fool many of your citizens into fighting to keep it that way.

  • to fool /fuːl/ (v.)  to trick someone

It’s all a recipe for a lost generation at best, and a nation hurtling toward decline and eventual unraveling at worst.

  • a recipe for (exp.) to be likely to become a disaster, a success, etc
  • generation /ˌdʒenəˈreɪʃən/ all the people in a society or family who are approximately the same age
  • to hurtle (v.) to move very quickly in a way that is not controlled and may be dangerous
  • to unravel /ʌnˈrævəl/ (v.) If you unravel a difficult situation or story, or if it unravels, it becomes clear and easier to understand
  • decline /dɪˈklaɪn/ (n.) a situation in which something becomes less in amount, importance, quality, or strength

So that’s why I’ve been thinking …

… when is enough going to be enough for you Americans?

  • enough is enough /ɪˈnʌf ɪz ɪˈnʌf/ (expression) something you say when you want something to stop


  • Occupy Wall Street (OWS) “is the name given to a protest movement that began in 2011, in New York City’s Wall Street financial district. The main issues raised by Occupy Wall Street were social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector.” (From Wikipedia, March 2013)
    • At the very bottom of the picture, you will notice that it’s indicated “Occupy Poster”. This poster was created to encourage people to protest against very expensive higher education in the USA by providing facts about other systems (in Scandinavia) and about the financial aspect of the US educational system.

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