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Re: VS: [xmca] Finland
I thought I would follow up on this, especially re Peter's post just
earlier about Bill Gates' influence on education "reform". It also seems
from Bruce's original post that I may have missed an earlier discussion
about Finnish society.
Yesterday in class, we got into *Finnish Lessons, *and according to the
book it's clear that the Finnish model is very different than what Gates
and his ilk are building. For one, testing and assessment are put in their
proper perspective. Because teachers are taught to consider themselves as
experts and researchers of their own profession, data are welcomed but
scrutinized and used fittingly. In other words, the data serves them and
their students, not the other way around--- a very Deweyan approach.
Teachers are given the autonomy and the professional respect to do this,
and they are not pitted against each other, which contributes to mutual
trust. They seem to be comfortable sharing knowledge with and learning from
We can then ask why this approach and that of Gates and the "global
education reform movement (GERM)", as Sahlberg calls it, diverge so
drastically. Why not take a hint from Finnish educators and students, who
have established a long-term record of success?
Among many reasons for this divergence, it needs to be highlighted that the
Finnish model is not easily or quickly replicable, let alone measurable. It
is a cultural artifact, an outgrowth of shared values and practices, chief
among them cooperation, respect, and trust. To further illustrate: one of
my students worked directly for Arne Duncan at the DOE for three years, and
said that although the Finnish model was explored, Duncan et al. determined
that only classroom-based pedagogical procedures could be replicated here.
Now, you can guess how skeptical we in this newsgroup might be about that
approach, considering how much education happens outside of the classroom
in Finland, and the above point that you can't import, a la carte,
sociocultural dynamics involved in classroom pedagogy.
So, the Gates/GERM approach begs us to wonder what if about all of this
money spent on "reform". What if it had been spent on building and
implementing a 30 year plan to 1) transform the status of teachers into
experts who collaborate with other experts, and 2) apply the Vygotskian
principle of balancing autonomy and support to the entire system? Again,
it's not like I think we here in the USA don't have it in us to learn from
the Finns (after all, as Sahlberg points out, they took a lot inspiration
from US educational research and practice). Not to be simplistic, but I
still think it mostly goes back, as I mentioned before, to political will.
Although habits and dispositions (and by extension, "cultures") are hard to
change, they can be changed with enough motivation and time.
On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 8:27 PM, Andrew Babson <email@example.com> wrote:
> Hi XMCA'ers, and thanks Bruce for bringing up this topic. I assigned
> Finnish Lessons for one of my classes, and we just started this past Monday
> so your post is timely. Once we get into the book, I'll share some further
> thoughts in this thread. Rauno, I appreciate your historical insights on
> Finland (and Leif, interesting to know about trends in Sweden).
> It's galling to realize that the major thing, really, standing in the way
> of solving so many social problems in democracies is political will---i.e.,
> not because we don't know what to do, or that we don't have the money to do
> it, but because advocacy hasn't been organized or passionate enough to make
> it happen. It's good to see positive examples like Finland's education
> turnaround, generations in the making.
> Andrew Babson, Ph.D.
> Lecturer, Graduate School of Education
> University of Pennsylvania
> On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 3:50 AM, Leif Strandberg <
> firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> Good Luck Finland...
>> don't do what we have done... a massive support to private schools
>> ("private" is an euphemism... for s.c. risk capitalism)
>> and the result is segregation and bad quality
>> 2 jul 2013 kl. 18.49 skrev Rauno Huttunen:
>>> Pasi Sahlberg is respected educational scientist in Finland. He knows
>>> what he is talking about.
>>> In 50th and 60th there was big debate in Finland concerning grand school
>>> reform. Existing school system was reproducing unequality. Finally party
>>> called "Maaseudun puolue" (Agrarian Party) agreed to work together with
>>> social democrats and communists in order to plan and execute of a grand
>>> school reform which would guarantee every child equal opportunities in
>>> educational system. Right wing parties gave heavy resistance but school
>>> reform was executed.
>>> Actually I am personally perfect example of this new Finnish elementary
>>> school system. I have working class background and my school success in
>>> lower grades was poor. In old school system I would have never make it to
>>> "Lyseo" (high school/gymansium/college) and university. I had only some
>>> distant relatives who make it to Lyseo and only one who make it to
>>> Now we have to fight for our school system and not let private schools
>>> run over the well working public school system.
>>> Rauno Huttunen
>>> Lähettäjä: email@example.com [firstname.lastname@example.org]
>>> käyttäjän Bruce Robinson [email@example.com]
>>> Lähetetty: 2. heinäkuuta 2013 19:16
>>> Vastaanottaja: firstname.lastname@example.org
>>> Aihe: [xmca] Finland
>>> Hello xmcaers,
>>> Following the recent discussion on Finnish culture, you might be
>>> interested in this interview about the Finnish education system and `why
>>> it is so successful from today's Guardian. There's some interesting
>>> speculation about the relationship between relative equality and the
>>> education system.
>>> Bruce R
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