Jul 24, 2011

Education in Helsinki

This post can also be called Progressive Schools 3.0 as I love talking about this issue. I'm practically obnoxious about it. If education reform matters to you too, How Finland Became an Education Leader is an interesting read on Salon. David Sirota interviews Harvard professor Tony Wagner who explains what Finland is doing right.

Apparently, Finland is now considered the best education system in the world, based on PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), an international standardized assessment of students in participating OECD economies. 

Irony of ironies, the top ranking students tested by PISA come from education systems that do not have test-centered education programs. Schools that do not have one-size-fits-all curriculums. Schools that are as far as possible from traditional/industrial model systems.

In this quote, Prof. Wagner compares what he's seen in some US schools versus what's happening in Finland:
"[…] I've been in some of this country's best schools in some of the wealthiest districts, and even some private schools, and I've seen stunningly mediocre teaching there with teachers teaching to the test. And the tests are primarily factual recall, memorization tests where students may pass, but will learn none of the skills that are necessary in the global knowledge economy.
This is what Finland has done that's different -- they've defined what is excellent teaching, not just reasonable teaching, and they have a standard for that. Second, they've defined what is most important to learn, and it's not a memorization-based curriculum, but a thinking-based curriculum." 

Note that, memorization and factual recall is still part of what kids have to do in Finnish schools. There is that myth that progressive school kids don't do ANY of that. They do. Its just that... it is not the focus or measuring stick for good performance. 

Tony Wagner's book The Global Achievement Gap looks like a good read. I'd also like to watch The Finland Phenomenon: Inside The World's Most Surprising School System

It's a Sunday and here I am talking about school, so let's end this post called Education in Helsinki with a song from Architecture in Helsinki. Harhar. Pardon the lame wit and title rip-off...

Architecture in Helsinki - Escapee from Architecture in Helsinki on Vimeo.

Jul 15, 2011

Distant Lights

I cannot stop listening and bopping my head to this super fresh  track from Ivy's upcoming album. "David Lynch stuck in a Greek discotech" indeed... and I am so there. Hope our weekends will be just as much fun as dancing to this.

If you like, here's a free download. You're welcome!

Jul 10, 2011

A Tale of Two Lilies

Lilia Hidalgo born September 15, 1921. My Nona. 

Lilia Patris Santos born February 12, 2006. My Pachicha.

My Dear Lilia Patris,

Much has happened in the past days that compelled me to write you. Little Lilia Pachicha... may your own story be that of Compassion, Resilience, Wisdom and Love. That was the story of your great grandmother's life. She had faced some serious struggles, she made her mistakes, but through it all, she showed a great capacity for love. When I was young and foolish and crossing all sorts of boundaries, I could have sworn she was the only one who could still love me. To this day, I miss our conversations. How she listened to me like no one else. 

Your Great Grand Nona was a teacher.

I pray your life will be easier than hers, but just as rich--made full by curiosity, an open mind and a big heart. Like her, you will be compassionate, resilient, wise and full of love. I already see it in you. You and your million and one questions, your thoughtfulness, how sweet you are, how very loving.

She was a nerd. I loved that about her.

Your name holds so much meaning because you share it with your great grandmother. It is a powerful symbol. Did you know that the water lily or lotus has the amazing ability to flourish in clear or muddy waters? It can grow in healthy streams or dirty ponds, a thing of beauty rising above the murk. As it flourishes it helps clear polluted waters. Lily petals form into a beautifully delicate flower, but at its center is a hearty seed pod that can pollinate widely. It is enduring. In Buddhism, the lotus symbolizes purity, spiritual growth and enlightenment.

I can't wait until I can talk to you and your brother about all this in earnest--lotus flowers, tragedy, love, family, dysfunction, grief, redemption and how my Nona, once upon a time, saved me. She continues to inspire me as a mother. I would have lived well if I stay true to that legacy.


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