Thursday, July 19, 2012

More on Finland's Educational System

O.k. I am having trouble getting off my soap box.  Yesterday, I talked about Finland's educational system (you can read about it here).

I know that a few years ago, we received a new principal at the elementary school where my children attended.  That new principal decided that the children would learn better if she took away one of their recesses and they had more instructional time.

I was furious.  While in theory that might look good on paper most people know...not everything that looks good on paper is good when put into practice.  At the time my oldest two boys were in first grade and Kindergarten.  My first thought is..."They are children.  Let them be children.  They grow up so fast already."  Then I tried to reason her thought process.  O.k.  I had trouble with that because I am a mother and not a principal or a teacher (however, my mother was a teacher, my brother was a teacher and several of my sisters-in-law are teachers, so I do get quite a bit of feedback from them).

So, as a mother of boys, I know that my boys have lots of energy that needs to be used up.  As a mother of boys, I did not feel that my children (especially a Kindergartner and first grader) would benefit from loosing recess time.  I think that my children would not get any more instruction from less recess and more instructional time.  They would be full of energy and would not be able to keep their focus on what the teacher was saying.  I felt this was very detrimental.  I also feel that it is unfair to the teacher to try to teach children who were not capable (due to age) of having that long of an attention span.  The teacher could get frustrated (and the children would pick up on that), my guess is that she would spend most of the instructional time trying to get children to settle down and pay attention instead of actually instructing.

Finland's school system does not start children until they are 7 years old and they have lots of play time.  Finland's schools are ranked with the most successful.  The teachers in Finland have minimal homework for students, spend less time in the classroom and fewer hours at school each day than American teachers.  It is also rare for a Finnish student to be held back.  Finland also has a large amount of immigrants (some who don't speak any Finnish) and still they are ranked among the most successful.  

Here is a quote from the Smithsonian article (read the full article here)...

"Finnish educators have a hard time understanding the United States’ fascination with standardized tests. “Americans like all these bars and graphs and colored charts,” Louhivuori teased, as he rummaged through his closet looking for past years’ results. “Looks like we did better than average two years ago,” he said after he found the reports. “It’s nonsense. We know much more about the children than these tests can tell us.”
Why can't American educators learn that these are children and not statistics.  There are more to children than their test scores.

Finland does not seem to have any advantages that the US doesn't and the US doesn't seem to have more disadvantages than Finland, so why the BIG difference in the quality of education?

Here is a quote...
...said then deputy principal Anne Roselius. “We are interested in what will become of them in life.”

Did you get that?  "We are interested in what will become of them in life."  Not how well they will score on a test this year (because my pay rate is based on my students scores this year and next year they will be another teacher's problem - not mine).  Again not blaming the teacher - it is the system, the system is what has caused this.  In all honesty, if I were a teacher I would probably do the same.  I have to feed my family, I have to keep my job and get paid at my job to feed and clothe my family.  I have to have good test scores to keep my job and get paid for my job in order to feed and clothe my family......

After war time (you should read about Finland's History) they decided...

In 1963, the Finnish Parlia-ment made the bold decision to choose public education as its best shot at economic recovery. “I call this the Big Dream of Finnish education,” said Sahlberg, whose upcoming book, Finnish Lessons, is scheduled for release in October. “It was simply the idea that every child would have a very good public school. If we want to be competitive, we need to educate everybody. It all came out of a need to survive.”...

...“We have our own motivation to succeed because we love the work,” said Louhivuori. “Our incentives come from inside.”...
...Heikkinen admits. Then he added: “But we are always looking for ways to improve.”
In other words, whatever it takes.
I love this great country that we live in.  I am proud to be an American, but we are not perfect people and we do not have a perfect system.  We need to learn and grow.  If we try something and it doesn't work, go back to the drawing board and start over.  For some reason, we just keep trying to fix big problems with little band-aids and wonder why the bleeding won't stop.

We can learn something from Finland.  I feel that children can be a nation's asset or demise.  Children are something that need to be invested in.  They are our future, but most importantly they are our children.

1 comment:

Trick master said...

This article was really helpful about Finland education

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