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.

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