Another Finland article

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, May 13, 2015.

  1. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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  3. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    I've seen similar articles about Finland and DANG! I really wish I could teach there!
     
  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    It has always seemed like a wonderful place to work!

    How is baby doing? And Mom and Dad?
     
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I find it interesting that Finland is considered to have a high level of education....based on standardized tests.

    My question would be, it seems that Finland STUDENTS have a completely different set of priorities than do American students. They seem to relish working hard adademically...why? What do we think causes the difference in work ethic?
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Better parenting.
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    There are so many cultural differences between the Scandinavian countries and our own. I don't even know that much about the culture, but I do know the entire society is structured in a way that very few people are "falling through the cracks" and thus sending their kids to school so incredibly underprepared, as is the case in US schools. Without making this a political debate, I would just suggest that the issue goes beyond just better parenting into better social planning and support, which results in better-prepared students with a more positive view of school.

    All that being said, from what I have read, the Finnish schools are doing some very specific things that could be replicable in American schools -- longer and more frequent recess, movement/activity breaks during class, a shorter school day overall, and (I think) less homework. It all runs against the grain of what is currently the trend in US schools, so it is interesting to see the data coming out of a very different model.
     
  8. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yet many of these things fall within my control as a classroom teacher. Less homework, activity breaks..etc.
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    The comments for the blog article were also an interesting read, especially when you clicked "older comments" to read those not displayed on the current page.

    The example given by the writer was disputed for their Finnish schools indicating that not all schools function as the writer explained which makes sense with what else I know about Finnish schools. They all have a lot of autonomy to function as they see fit.

    "Less is More" is in the culture of the society. They aren't worried about how many McDonald's toys they collect. They don't need additional closets to hold mounds of clothes that they absolutely needed because they have nothing to wear.

    Did you know, more people in Finland lack a functioning bathroom in their house than people in the United States according to a site that compared statistics between different countries and the US?

    A significantly higher number of students in Finland have received some form of special education over their school years than in the United States. When a student starts falling behind, they get extra help.

    Struggling isn't seen as a failure as it is here. It also isn't to be seen as an embarrassment. I doubt failing to learn quickly is a shameful thing. My belief is that attitude in this country impacts learning more than any thing else. It causes people to respond is so many different ways that do not enable them to improve and build the mindset to work harder.
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    In your particular school and class they may fall within your control.

    As we have seen on just this forum, many schools have dropped recess, specials, and other activities in favor of test prep. I have worked in schools where the primary goal was to do as much reading and math as the day allowed. Teachers have been disciplined for taking their kids to recess, and even taking rest breaks in the class.

    Consider yourself fortunate that you are teaching in one of the better schools.
     
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I think alot of schools have some freedom, more than most will admit. Many many teachers at my school vocally think they are oppressed by the test.

    My point is, it is the students attitude about working hard that I see as the driving difference. The students use their time better therefore they can have shorter days, more breaks..etc. Student attitude drives the school changes more than the schooll changes drive the attitude...imo.
     
  12. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is the one thing I have seen so far that schools could improve upon that could have a direct impact on a student's work ethic at school.
     
  13. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    I agree about the huge cultural differences between their country and ours. I'm not saying there aren't things that our system of education can't do to improve, but so much happens outside of the classroom that impacts the vast difference between them and us. Poverty rates, parents' illiteracy in the language being taught in school, and a youth population that spends too much time playing video games and not nearly enough reading independently are some examples.
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is why I don't get enamored with the Finland education model.
     
  15. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    How can you say this? Finnish children get a hot meal, prepared from scratch, on site each school day. Their parents have a safe, reliable place to live and everyone gets medical care. These children grow up with much less stress than our kids. We have 22% percent of our children growing up in poverty. Finland has less than 5%.

    Our high income school populations outscore Finland on the PISA in all grade levels and subject. We need to address poverty.
     
  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Poverty is part of parenting. Poverty can affect culture and family, but it doesn't have to.
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Then what can the education system do to improve?
     
  18. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    This.

    I don't mean to blame parents for being in poverty. It's unavoidable. So are many of the child-rearing attitudes and decisions that come with it. An impoverished family has parents probably working around the clock and unable to spend the time to raise their child to be someone who values hard work, learning from mistakes, education, and has the discipline to succeed in school. Not saying this happens in every case, but you just take a look at your students who are undisciplined, don't value education, and may or may not be behavior issues. Most of them come from impoverished families.

    The school system is built to provide education. Not rear your children. Poverty does need to be addressed in order to better our parenting problem. But so do other things, like teaching parents to value education themselves (many do not).
     
  19. Backroads

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    This, right back to you, Peregrin. I love this paragraph.

    I've seen plenty of wild, underachieving students living in poverty. I've also seen plenty of students living in poverty who are doing quite respectably as far as behavior and school performance.

    I once read an article suggesting a three-fold approach to improving school behavior, pretty much saying the school, communities, and families had to be tackled and that leaving even one factor out would fail on proper improvement.

    Leaving it to the school or even the government to fix everything will go so far. All levels need to do their best.

    I personally think it downright dangerous when we expect the schools to do all the work: teach the kids, teach them morals, raise them, etc. Schools aren't equipped for that and I don't think they really should be.
     
  20. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I wonder how true this is.

    I often have a different perception of poverty in this country.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I think the notion of saying that schools shouldn't be parenting children meaning that the nutritional, behavioral, and social needs of the children should not be met by the schools but by the parents in a thread about Finland where the government provides many of those type needs within the school systems by having lots of counseling, behavior support, and other social services available to students. Seems to me the government does a lot of what some here would consider the role of parents.

    http://www.ncee.org/programs-affili...s/finland-overview/finland-education-for-all/

    "Finnish schools not only provide education, they provide many other important resources and services for their students, including a daily hot meal, psychological counseling and health and dental services."

    This site also discusses all of the extra help Finnish students receive. 40% of students receive extra reading help. Think about that! In our local elementary school not too long ago they had 5 slots for reading help in a 1st grade of 150 students (few kids were on IEPs in 1st grade). In the United States, kids struggle because schools don't provided the needed academic assistance. If 40% of kids in Finland which has a language that is completely phonetic need remedial help (and get it), why is it that so few students in United States get help as they fall behind. How can we blame parents and claim that they don't value education when we have this statistic that shows that school systems that value education actually provide the help students need.
     
  22. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    We're doing well, thanks! :D She is 9 weeks old now.
     
  23. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    (Belated) Congratulations!! :love:
     
  24. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    The Finnish school system IS built to parent children. At least to a greater degree than the American school system. We don't have enough resources put into these programs that you talk about that students require if their parents aren't providing them. We don't hire enough personnel, provide enough funding, etc. for these interventions. Instead the American system tries to make do with one teacher per 40 students a class, cutting positions left and right to save money, overworking and overextending teachers, forcing them to do extra duties and jobs without pay. We fund technology with the aim to reduce the role of the teacher instead of increase their influence. The Finnish system holds teachers in higher regard, provides bigger compensation for services rendered, and doesn't cut corners to save cash on children's futures. This is why it won't work in America. We're too capitalistic and intent on reducing the role of the teacher to a minimum wage worker while we sit our students in front of Khan Academy and hope they'll absorb the information on their own.
     
  25. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So what do you believe drives this difference?
     
  26. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I don't think any of us disagree that a positive work ethic and attitude can make all the difference in a school culture. But the question is, what can we realistically do to change the culture in a school where this attitude is not present? What can we do to change the minds of students who come to school hungry, afraid, and under-prepared? What can we do to change the minds of their parents for whom school was not a path to success, and for whom the current social structures are not working? We as teachers can't magically change the realities of the society we live in...so what can we do to change our schools?
     
  27. Pashtun

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    My take is this.

    Take creating a positive, safe, encouraging..etc classroom culture very seriously, strive year after year to improve it and modify it. Create a system that supports a growth mindset for students. Reward and emphasize academic behaviors over grades.

    I would love to talk in detail about how we can improve these things.

    I'll start.

    I think many many teachers have bought into the growth mindset, so how do we support this in our classroom culture. (I haven't seen many examples)

    1. I have students graph quiz results over the course of the year. So students will have multiple grades on the same standard over the course of the year. The graph allows students to see their growth or lack of. Students reflect on quizzes each week with regards to academic behaviors.

    The goal is that students will see that it is their behaviors and efforts that determine their success or failures. They reflect on not just the grade but also the process.

    2. I have "great work" board where I put up only 8 students work each month. No other student work (other than art) is displayed in the room. Each month students have to choose a piece of work they are proud of and write a paragraph describing why they are proud of it. I then read and choose work to display based on their explanations. Emphasis is on what each individual student is proud of, effort, growth..etc.

    3. I need to find more concrete ways to build and grow students self-esteem.

    What do others do to support effort in your classrooms?
     
  28. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I really like idea #2.

    My school required something similar to your idea #1. In theory, I like it, but I didn't like the way it was executed at my school. Just another thing they threw on us without having a solid plan in place first...

    In my classroom, I started using "effort beads" this year. [Disclaimer: I got the idea from another teacher in my district. I didn't come up with it on my own.] It's basically just mardi gras beads that I kept in a supply caddy with the "effort beads" label. As I would walk around the classroom during independent or paired practice, I would place a set of beads over my students' necks if they were demonstrating academic behaviors. This was after we had a discussion on growing our brains and explicit conversations about what effort looks like in the classroom. The kids loved it! They would take the beads off and return them after each lesson/activity and start fresh with the next one.
     
  29. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Pashtun, I really liked your post. Thank you for sharing your great ideas. I think we can get way more out of this board by sharing ideas to change the culture rather than arguing why it is the way it is!
     
  30. Tyler B.

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    When I worked with impoverished students, I noticed they did not reinforce themselves after a significant accomplishment. I took to proving to them that they had made progress, then explaining to them that they should expect to feel proud when they saw how many minutes they had read, or when they completed an assignment.

    I like the Great Work bulletin board, but I'm uncomfortable with just 8 students up there. How about if you have a rubric that students can use to decide they are done with a project, then make **** sure every kid is successful? Have it a class celebration board.
     
  31. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I don't like whole class boards, imo, it cheapens the meaning and doesn't have the same feeling of pride. My opinion of course.

    Every student gets on the board, but only 8 at a time, and they get to explain why the work they chose is important for them. It rotates every month. The rubric is they have to feel successful and proud of the work they put up. No other criteria, just their sense of pride. They have to explain it in a paragraph on a note card.
     
  32. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    They have also invested a lot into the family such as one income homes where 32 hours 4 days a week is full time. Sundays are a family day with no places open for business. Much, much more.

    They have a 'Save the Children' motto that is loaded with benefits starting with paid maternity leave 50 work days BEFORE delivery and 105 days AFTER delivery. This is for every woman...even self employed.

    There is too much to list.
     

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