Educational reform in Finland, lessons for the West?


Tonington
#1
This article in the Atlantic is a few months old now, but the topic is a good one. Educational reform. With all the chatter about BC teachers and such, I thought this was a good read, and particularly a very good contrast of the differences between many countries/societies.

Finland has been scoring very high internationally since the reforms took place. There is no more pre-school or kindergarten, kids go to school starting at age 7. There are no privately funded schools in all of Finland. The only standardized test is given to an optional high school program that students can take. Teachers all must have Master's degrees, and there is no standard criteria for assessment of achievement.

Yet they consistently have scored at the top of international testing since these and many other reforms have been implemented. They score up there with Asian countries, but without the long hours of memorization that is typical of Asian education.

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success - Anu Partanen - National - The Atlantic (external - login to view)
 
CDNBear
+3
#2  Top Rated Post
Great article Ton, loved it.

I see one monumental hurdle, just by your take alone.

Teachers unions.

Further compounded by the fact that the "public" aspect of this, will be met in the States, with claims of dreaded socialism!
 
Tonington
+2
#3
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

Teachers unions.

Could be a problem...though I can't see them complaining about higher pay.

Quote:

Further compounded by the fact that the "public" aspect of this, will be met in the States, with claims of dreaded socialism!

That's the real big hurdle.
 
L Gilbert
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success - Anu Partanen - National - The Atlantic (external - login to view)

Yep. Humans tend to ignore anyone else's methods for achievements, especially if they work better.
 
Goober
#5
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

Could be a problem...though I can't see them complaining about higher pay.



That's the real big hurdle.

I believe it was New Jersey that enacted standards for teachers that had to be met - 1st year 5 % were dismissed - Others were placed on training programs so they could improve.

I do not see salary as a problem - In Nordic countries people pay a higher rate of tax.

Next we have schools that sit empty for a substantial portion of the year.

Rewarding teachers that excel - Yes -

Pay for performance -

Audit teachers on a regular basis.

Providing the opportunity to go for their Masters.

Presently Ontario has to many teachers looking for work - They just extended their teaching program by 1 year.
 
gerryh
#6
Oh the horror, Canada did SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO badly in PISA. Right near the bottom in all 3 categories....
 
Bar Sinister
+2
#7
Teachers' unions Shouldn't be a problem. The ATA has been pushing for many of the reforms listed in the article for decades. And in fact so far as Alberta is concerned many of them are already in place. Most teachers in Alberta now have at least four years of University training and five years is now common. Asking Alberta teachers to add one or two more years of education would not be a particularly difficult burden, particularly if the government was willing to finance their education.

Similar to Finland, all Alberta schools are equally funded, and the number of private schools is negligible. As for standardized tests and the ranking of schools most Alberta teachers have very little use for either of these practices; primarily because neither has been shown to improve educational standards.

The biggest problem I see with adopting some aspects of the Finnish model is government inertia and the reluctance of the Department of Education to make even the slightest changes. This is even more of a problem in the USA which probably has the most disfunctional educational system in the modern world. However, some of the changes, such as the equal funding of all schools should be easy to institute, provided US educational authorities and US politicians are truly interested in improving educational standards in the US.
 
Cannuck
#8
Quote: Originally Posted by Bar SinisterView Post

Similar to Finland, all Alberta schools are equally funded, and the number of private schools is negligible.

Really? Within a half hour from my house there are 3 public schools and 4 private (and more home schooled kids than I care to count)
 
CDNBear
+1
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

Could be a problem...though I can't see them complaining about higher pay.

I don't know if Bar is right, when he says that teachers wouldn't mind a couple more years in school.

Sure the higher pay will be met with open arms. But just how many teachers in the system, will be willing to go back to school, and get a Masters?

Quote: Originally Posted by L GilbertView Post

Yep. Humans tend to ignore anyone else's methods for achievements, especially if they work better.

Canada also has this time honoured tradition, of trying to reinvent the wheel.
 
taxslave
+1
#10
One major stumbling block is that while Finland has a National education system Canada for some unfathomable reason has made education a Provincial responsibility. I think mostly so that more bureaucraps could syphon money out of th system.
 
Tonington
+1
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

I don't know if Bar is right, when he says that teachers wouldn't mind a couple more years in school.

My mother got her Master's degree while she was still teaching. I doubt any change like that would force teachers out, most any industry or profession that undergoes changes like that are often grandfathered, or phased in over time.

Quote:

Canada also has this time honoured tradition, of trying to reinvent the wheel.

It's not reinventing the wheel necessarily...it's more like updating technology. If something works better, it's worth noting and careful study to see if it's applicable. Also worth noting are societal differences, as the article makes clear. The Finnish have no word for accountability in their language. It's assumed and goes without saying, literally!

Alloy wheels are surely better for a high performance car than a neolithic wheel made from stone, but unnecessary for your backyard wheel barrow.
 
CDNBear
+1
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

My mother got her Master's degree while she was still teaching. I doubt any change like that would force teachers out, most any industry or profession that undergoes changes like that are often grandfathered, or phased in over time.

I'm not a huge fan of grandfathering. Some old habits oft get dragged into the new atmosphere.

Contamination makes change more difficult.

Quote:

It's not reinventing the wheel necessarily...it's more like updating technology. If something works better, it's worth noting and careful study to see if it's applicable. Also worth noting are societal differences, as the article makes clear. The Finnish have no word for accountability in their language. It's assumed and goes without saying, literally!

I'm not sure if you got my drift.

Canada sometimes sees technology that works, but feels compelled to modify it, solely for the purposes of making it uniquely Canadian.

I see that as a waste of time.
 
Tonington
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

I'm not a huge fan of grandfathering.

It's relative. Someone who has been working for 20 years probably has more experience to make up for the differences in accredited training.

Quote:

Canada sometimes sees technology that works, but feels compelled to modify it, solely for the purposes of making it uniquely Canadian.

Maybe a specific example would help me catch what you're pitching. I don't think policies and technology make for the best comparisons.

A wheel works because the physics work, and that won't change from one country to another, all else being equal...so making something different for the sake of being different is a huge waste, and potentially the change is deleterious to begin with. Policies on the other hand interact with parts of society that aren't well parametrized like physics. The environment is far more dynamic.

So a change to make something Canadian, or rather to better integrate in Canada isn't necessarily a bad idea.
 
CDNBear
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

It's relative. Someone who has been working for 20 years probably has more experience to make up for the differences in accredited training.

Maybe.

Quote:

Maybe a specific example would help me catch what you're pitching. I don't think policies and technology make for the best comparisons.

The Feds Helo deals.

Instead of purchasing a proven platform, they bought into a newer helo, they split the job, airframe, and avionics. set lower performance standards.
 
Tonington
+1
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by CDNBearView Post

The Feds Helo deals.

Instead of purchasing a proven platform, they bought into a newer helo, they split the job, airframe, and avionics. set lower performance standards.

Setting lower performance standards...yeah that's not much of an improvement.
 
CDNBear
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by ToningtonView Post

Setting lower performance standards...yeah that's not much of an improvement.

No it isn't.

I like what the Fin's have created. By the looks of it, it really works. I'm all for publicly funded education, from start to finish. Especially in a system that has proven potential.

I've been able to get a very interesting look at how things that work get implemented, mind you on a small scale, with the work I've been doing with at risk kids.

The bureaucracy is amazingly depressing. By the time the professional political types study it to death, the kids that it would have helped the most. Have either fallen through the cracks, given up, or re-offended.
 
Bar Sinister
+1
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by CannuckView Post

Really? Within a half hour from my house there are 3 public schools and 4 private (and more home schooled kids than I care to count)

Yes really. It sounds like you live in the middle of an educational hotbed, especially as there are only a few dozen private schools in all of Alberta. Currently only about 4% of children in Alberta attend private schools.

You may be confusing public schools that have taken out a charter with private schools. It is a common misconception that Charter schools are private; they are not. They are staffed by members of the Alberta Teachers' Association and teach a basic curriculum identical to other schools. In fact any school in Alberta can declare itself a Charter School simply by issuing a charter in which it promises to work toward some goal. For example a school could declare itself in favour of educational excellence and write a charter to that effect. As for home schooling there are less than 16000 students out of a total student population of almost 600,000. As I said, negligible.

If you compare home school numbers and the number of private schools in Canada with those in the USA it is obvious that Canada in general is doing a much better job of satisfying parents than is the case in the US where up to 40% of all schools are private.

Growth of Home Schooling in Alberta (external - login to view)
https://osi.alberta.ca/osi-content/P...choolYear.aspx (external - login to view)

If you are actually interested in private schools in Alberta I have provided a list below. If you check them out a look at their tuition fees might explain why they are so rare. BTW these schools are also required by law to teach a common Alberta curriculum. You might also note that many of these schools are religious or ethnic in nature, which goes far to explaining their existence.

education.alberta.ca/apps/eir...s1007pbody.pdf (external - login to view)
BTW, be prepared for disappointment in some of these schools. Although they are listed they are sometimes dead links.

I have also provided a locator for public Charter Schools. If you bother to check each one you will probably note that they differ from regular private schools only in having a stated goal. Most of them charge no special fees other than for special equipment (for example hockey gear in a school Chartered to focus on athletics with hockey as its main sport).

www.taapcs.ca/members.html (external - login to view)
 

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