Positive and negative words about education

On the whole, do you think your country has a good or bad education system? How does it compare with other countries? 

Brainstorm positive and negative aspects of your country’s schools into the table below:

good points/ strengths bad points/ weaknesses










































Use the next page to help with and continue your discussion.


Positive and negative words about schools

Use the words below to help with the task above. Not all will match your country’s situation, so adapt or miss out those which don’t.

  • (teacher/ student) absenteeism
  • aging school buildings
  • bright and airy
  • bullying
  • bureaucracy/ paperwork
  • (long/ many) ceremonies
  • chalk and talk
  • chaotic/ disorganised
  • choice/ freedom
  • churn out future employees for (big) business
  • competitive
  • conservative/ traditional
  • continuous assessment
  • continuous professional development (observations etc)
  • cookie cutter/ standardisation
  • copied by other countries/ look up to by other countries
  • corporal punishment
  • creativity
  • damp school buildings
  • dark/ gloomy
  • democratic
  • demotivation
  • discipline
  • discrimination
  • disparities in…
  • diversity
  • drop out
  • ecologically aware
  • education is prioritised (by the country/ by parents/ by…)
  • elite teachers
  • entrance exams
  • evidence-based methodologies
  • (focused on high stakes) exams/ testing
  • exclusive
  • experimental/ follow the latest teaching trends
  • express yourself
  • (need) extra tuition after school
  • fights
  • find your vocation
  • flexible
  • free
  • funding goes to those most in need
  • gangs
  • give students responsibility
  • grey
  • healthy food
  • hidden charges
  • high fees
  • high ratio of students to teachers/ large class sizes
  • high staff turnover
  • high standards
  • high technology
  • highly paid teachers
  • hippy/ new age
  • hothouse atmosphere
  • inclusive
  • independent
  • industrial action by teachers
  • keen to learn
  • learn how to learn/ learn study skills
  • learn how to sell themselves
  • learn self-confidence
  • liberal
  • military inspired…
  • misbehaviour/ naughty kids
  • nationalistic history education
  • one size fits all
  • overstaffed
  • overwhelmed by homework
  • overworked teachers
  • parent involvement
  • patriotism
  • personalised learning
  • petty rules
  • political indoctrination
  • preparing students for the future world
  • produces an international elite
  • (highly) qualified teachers
  • real-life skills
  • religious fundamentalism
  • respect for teachers
  • rote learning
  • rural schools and city schools are very different
  • rush through the syllabus
  • (lots of) screen time
  • secular
  • self-expression
  • shortage of…
  • sleeping in class
  • socialisation
  • special needs specialists
  • split between elite and less good schools
  • stress
  • student suicides
  • students excluded from school
  • students more motivated in cram school
  • students run wild
  • students work together
  • teach leadership skills/ identify leaders
  • teachers accept bribes
  • teachers are unsackable
  • teachers with higher degrees
  • teaching is a high status job
  • top of the PISA rankings
  • underfunded
  • understaffed

Label the words above with + or – for (generally) positive or negative (including the words in brackets). Then check your answers as a class.

 What are the solutions to the problems with your country’s school system? Is there any danger that those things could take away the strong points?

 Describe the education system in other countries using similar words.

 Do the same for India, using your imagination about anything you don’t know about, then read a text on that topic. 


PDF version for easy saving and printing: Positive and negative words about education

Related pages

Positive and negative connotations page

Education vocabulary page