What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school success

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Caesar753, Jan 2, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,743
    Likes Received:
    424

    Mar 23, 2012

    The most astounding thing about your country when I visit (and I love your country by the way) is the huge social divide that you see. You have Calcutta style poverty living on your streets next to Cadillacs and Rolls Royce parking lots. It is also the way that many of your population, even ones in 'good' jobs are but a couple of missed paychecks away from living in a box.
     
  2. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    4,328
    Likes Received:
    570

    Mar 23, 2012

    Blazer, much of that is due to choice and attitude. So much of our society cannot see the need to wait for something. Instead it is "mine, mine, mine, now, now, now." There is very little social and individual responsibility.

    I am astounded at the above statistic that 75% of pregnant, poor women do not want to be pregnant. Absolutely astounded. That is such a relatively easy thing to avoid. Again, it goes back to personal responsibility.

    We will never be able to achieve Finland's success rate because we are not Finland. You'll never find a significant number of people who are willing to be on an equal plane.
     
  3. Loves the beach

    Loves the beach Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 23, 2012

    Unfortunately, I am in agreement with this statement. You have to have enough people on board for it to work. There are too many who flat out don't care.
     
  4. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    144

    Mar 23, 2012

    I personally like it. Seperates the wheat from the chaff so to speak. plus an an element of chance to the game..mostly it seems if you are born into a family with good parents you will win, if not you lose. However there is about 10% in either direction that will exceed expectations or fail to meet them. It's all about the individual and what she/he wants to do with their lives."whether you think you can or can't, you are right" so to speak.

    However, I do understand that if I had been born in Finland or the UK or Yemen or Syria or China or wherever I'd probably believe something entirely different than what I do now. Probably true if I'd been born here in the US to different parent(s) or in a different part of the country.
     
  5. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,743
    Likes Received:
    424

    Mar 24, 2012

    I'm sure you wouldn't like it so much if you were living on the streets. I know that over here we look at the US as a land where anyone can succeed but probably in reality it is the same as the UK. If your family is already at the top then you will be at the top. If you family is at the bottom then you stay at the bottom. With a few notable exceptions that are always trotted out to show that anything is possible.
     
  6. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    144

    Mar 24, 2012

    as I stated earlier...

    the probability of a person doing significantly better or worse than their parents (or parent in these days) is not very high. However it appears that it (the chance to improve) is nil in most other places. You can point to the homeless and I agree that that is a terrible situation but we have people in this country who describe themselves as "poor" who own vehicles, celllphones, can purchase liquor, tobacco, fast food and other luxury items, cable TV, etc.Some of my students would tell you that they are poor. Yet they can tell you about the latest video game they are playing at home.

    Contrast that with the "poor" people in Central America, Africa, Asia, etc.Some of those people are truly stuggling just to stay alive.
     
  7. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    4,328
    Likes Received:
    570

    Mar 24, 2012

    yep. Poor is apparently a relative term.

    My own children often say they are poor. Because they cannot do the things that their friends do. And they will sometimes go into their BEDROOMS, sit at their DESKS, use a COMPUTER to access FACEBOOK to whine about not having the $$ to do what they want. @@

    My children have a great chance of doing better financially than my husband and I. Our choices placed us in our economic situation. We chose to take lower-paying jobs in order to spend more time with family, immediate and extended. We chose to have a stay-at-home parent for most of the kids' childhoods.

    However, the opportunity to better your life is very much available in the US. I know several multi-generational families who have a parent/grandparent that broke out of the public assistance cycle yet the next generation goes back in. One of my coworker's daughter did just that and when her mother called her on it, the daughter said it was easier that way. It is easier to get sucked into what your friends and family do than it is to struggle for a higher standard of living.
     
  8. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 24, 2012

    You are on a factual basis, if I might interrupt your ideological fervor for a moment, utterly wrong. Any number of ethnic (immigrant) groups have started at the bottom and have risen to par with the larger society. African-Americans remain the frustrating exception, of course, for any number of arguable reasons, but that discussion is beyond the scope here.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    Mar 24, 2012

    "Ideological fervor"??
     
  10. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,743
    Likes Received:
    424

    Mar 25, 2012

    Surely, with the exception of the Native Americans you are all immigrants?
     
  11. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,592
    Likes Received:
    4

    Mar 25, 2012

    Truly as far as immigrants go both the South and North American populous is all immigrants. The Native Americans immigrated here a lot earlier than anyone else though.
     
  12. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,382
    Likes Received:
    553

    Mar 28, 2012

    So maybe the lesson we can learn from Finland is to set a goal to eliminate poverty. We are Americans. We can do whatever we choose to do.

    What won't work is to take the public money out of public schools and give it to charter schools or voucher systems.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6,401
    Likes Received:
    2,253

    Mar 29, 2012

    I don't believe that poverty is the problem with students learning. Schools now provide both breakfast and lunch. Families get money from the government for food, shelter, now even cell phones, etc.

    What I think is the BIG problem with student achievement has much to do with how we meet the needs of the students as they walk into school. Alfie Kohn (some of his ideas I like and others I hate) wrote an article about the idea of students 'ready to learn' implying that in order for academic learning to happen certain skills and motivations must be in place in the children already. When they are not in place, blame starts to happen. What DOES NOT HAPPEN many times is the teaching of those lacking schools within the school setting. If the home (parents or previous childcare) was not able to get the student to that point whether it be because they tried and the student needs more help or parents don't know what skills are needed or parents are not able to teach them because they themselves don't have them, the school has not adapted to address the issue.

    Now one can start the blame game of NCLB, but this gap has existed for a very, very long time even before NCLB. Then it was because the accountablity was lower, now is the stress of trying to reach a goal has made schools try to hammer the end result with fear that if they spend time tackling those underlying needs they won't get the students where they need to be. Neither worked. Neither will ever work.

    We need to meet kids where they are. That is one of the reasons Finland works so well. They have high quality day care or preschools for children instead of the mismash we have here. We have some stellar preschools, but comparing one to another you will see a great divide. But I am sure in Finland if a child comes in lacking some basic skills, that is what they address first understanding that you cannot build on non-existant skills and just punish the child for not having those skills as often happens in classrooms across America.

    I'm not blaming teachers for all of this, it is a systemic problem. It is this strange idea that we have an equal starting point with the children mandated to the system.

    We will never be able to emulate Finland if we continue to ignore the fact that we have to meet the student where he is, not where we really want him to be. If that means that on child needs to work on attention skills and another needs to be working on phonics, then we need to find out how we can set up schools so that we can meet students where they are. Sure you can give the phonics lessons to all kids, but the ones that cannot attend will get little to nothing out of it. We cannot then go back and say that we taught that child phonics. We didn't. We had the child try to comply to the lesson without good results. That is all we really did.

    Finland cannot be brought here without the traditional school model (regardless of the new ideas that constantly come along that still keep the same method of not meeting students where they are) changing.
     
  14. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    144

    Mar 29, 2012

    OK, I went back and reread the article...it appears that Finland is 'about on par" with Singapore and South Korea as far as test scores, which appear to be the criteria for ranking. Why not emulate them? Why Finland? I get the desire to be #1 which is the American way but paradoxically, the Finnish gentleman in the article appears to discourage competition as a modus operandi. Interesting article. Would I love for the US to be #1 in education? - of course, to strive to be the best is the American way. However, the article did not address benefits to Finland that came with the "title" -yes it was ranked very high, if not #1, on the quality of life but was this the result of improvements in the educational system? Or were they ranked highly before? Just food for thought, not really expecting anyone to know the answers.
     
  15. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    Messages:
    766
    Likes Received:
    21

    Mar 29, 2012

    My favorite part of the article:

    For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master's degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it.

    I believe respect and decent pay would help out a lot (along with other things, of course)
     
  16. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,382
    Likes Received:
    553

    Mar 30, 2012

    Finnish police do not prowl the streets to shut down illegal "cram schools". The culture in South Korea encourages children to spend 6 to 10 hours outside of school cramming for tests. Finland has nothing like this and yields better results. Their system is more compatible with ours.


    _______________________________________________
    favorite blogs: http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  17. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,743
    Likes Received:
    424

    Mar 31, 2012

    It would be interesting if one of your smaller states decided to trial the Finnish model to see if it worked. Sadly Politicians of all hues and in most countries can only see as far as the next election and a change such as this would take a generation to come to some sort of measurable effect. Too long a timescale for a political bean counter. I beleive that in many Scandinavian countries the party in power rarely changes so they can take a much longer view safe in the knowledge that they will stay in charge long term.
     
  18. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Messages:
    1,396
    Likes Received:
    4

    Mar 31, 2012

    Poverty is more than not having food for breakfast or lunch, or getting money from the government. It is also a state of mind. Many of my families, who are of lower socio-economic status- do not value education. It is that simple. Given a choice of paying the electric bill or taking the family to the movies, they will go to the movies. It is the right here, right now syndrome. So, when I am teaching subject material to students who don't see the value of it, they shut down. It does not matter to them that the math I teach them at 11 years old will be useful to them at the age of 25, let alone the rest of their lives.
    In that respect, I understand that meeting them where they are is important. But I also feel that until we address all issues that cause the lack of achievement in this country, the gap will continue to be there, and continue to grow.
     
  19. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    4,328
    Likes Received:
    570

    Mar 31, 2012

    ITA
     
  20. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    4,212
    Likes Received:
    8

    Mar 31, 2012

    Can I teach in Finland, please?

    I just skimmed the article, but I strongly agree with:
    -LESS STANDARDIZED TESTS!!!
    -Paying and treating teachers as professionals
    -Continuous, quality professional development for teachers
    -More hands-on learning
    -Educational equality
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6,401
    Likes Received:
    2,253

    Mar 31, 2012

    For years the schools' excuse for the gap was that kids were hungry and couldn't learn. Well, kids were fed and nothing improved. Thing is, nothing really changed in the classroom either except the kids had food and were no longer hungry. In fact, many kids getting free lunches throw them out. So, now on to the next reason for the poor to not excel without having to revamp the school, poverty is a mindset.

    Complaints about why kids aren't learning in the classroom at very low grades has more to do with skill set, background knowledge, language skills, etc. Mindset won't change this unless you think that those with the poverty mindset, as you say, will change their ways. Again, the focus is outside of what school can do instead of addressing the underlying weaknesses that many poor children come to school having. Finland also provideds psychological services for their students for the subset that needs it. We only have token school psychologists. They are there to meet the legal requirements (and some are really stellar), but they don't actually do what is needed for some of the kids.

    The other issue is that we need a mindset in the school were every adult is on the same page. This rarely happens. Kids get mixed signals all the time.

    There are many issues when educating children in communities of high poverty, but I really haven't seen too many schools that address the underlying learning issues. I have seen one or two. It is amazing the growth of the students when this happens. It is also amazing to see what happens when some of the adult players change and everyone is no longer on the same page - success dwindles. The only thing that changed in the situation is the staff.
     
  22. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,094
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 31, 2012

    I think the Finnish model is definitely worth studying due to it's success. It may not be possible to integrate it completely into the American system due to the number of cultural and social differences, but we could consider ways to integrate the best elements.

    I agree completely that our system will never improve significantly until it becomes a valued and respected field as it is in other countries. Teachers mold, guide, prepare and build our future generations. That, alone, should be reason enough for teaching to be one of the most highly valued and respected occupations available. Instead, though, teachers have become the scapegoats when the system fails due to it's many flaws. There are "bad teachers" in our schools, just like there are bad employees in ANY field or occupation, but that doesn't make the decline of the system or the apathy and failure of student the fault of the teacher.

    Nothing will change until teaching becomes a respected occupation rather than the political whipping post for larger issues. Under current conditions, it is perfectly understandable why most college students would NOT want to consider teaching as a career; low pay for the amount of education required, long hours AFTER the school day has supposedly "ended", and (most of all) demonization and criticism of teachers in general when students don't perform well. If we want our education system to improve and succeed, then we MUST make it a desirable and prestigious occupation to pursue.

    Social factors and conditions certainly play a huge role in the attitude children (and even their parents) have towards education. I just watched The Ron Clark Story this week. It was a very impressive story and I felt there were many important points that we all can learn from.

    When a 12 yr old girl has to babysit her three siblings, cook supper, get baths for the others, get them in bed and clean the house, it is no wonder she sees school (and especially homework) as a waste of her time. It was also impressive how Ron Clark got the mother to realize the ability and potential her daughter had. Those (and a few other examples) were the obvious lessons, but there were other incidents I felt were equally important.

    In the opening scene, he sees a child that has been made to stand in a trash can in the hallway by his teacher. When he asks the boy what is going on, the child says "My teachers says I can't learn anything, so I should be thrown out with the trash." How many brand new teachers would have the courage to risk the wrath of an established teacher by removing the student from they have given. I know this was an extreme example that any of us would think is completely wrong on a myriad of levels, but what about other consequences that aren't as outrageous, but still equally damaging to the students' self-esteem.

    The most important message I got from the movie was that Clark took immediate action or spoke his mind (despite the consequences) when he saw something that he thought was wrong; picking the kid up (literally and figuratively) to remove him from the trash can, confronting an abusive foster parent for making a hateful and ignorant remark about one of his students and encouraging the mother that was so angry with him to give her daughter a chance to achieve her potential.

    We DO need to be aware of the lives our students have outside of the school, because that affects their attitude and behavior IN school. We need to show our kids, in actions far more than words, that we truly care about them and their success.
     
  23. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0

    Mar 31, 2012

    A few days ago, I saw the film The Finland Phenomenon with a roomful of teachers here at my school, and I skimmed a bit in the book Finnish Lessons.

    Our first impression was that the Finnish schools weren't that different from ours, except for their being much more committed to what we would call "vocational education." It's important to say that there is no sense there that those who "can't hack it" in the academic stratum "drop" into the vocational. In fact, many students spend a while in the vocational area, then return to the academic because they find that there is something they need and want to learn there.

    We attributed the similarities to two main causes:

    1) Parents and students in Finland value education. It's the same here. Granted, students and parents here do seem at times to be more interested in academic success than in learning per se, but let's not look a gift horse in the mouth. The students do give us an opportunity to teach them, they do their work, and learning does happen. Our various test scores too are very high, for whatever that may or may not be worth.

    2) There is a tradition and a genuine practice of trust among those involved in education. Teachers are very well trained and are then trusted to do their jobs. There is no "teacher evaluation" as we understand the term, no "accountability" in the dreary pseudo-objective faux-industrial sense in which we know it. Instead, they share the work of teaching teachers and of teaching students. Here at my school, we have had a similar tradition (a "democratic" school," too complicated to explain here), though the lamebrained minions of accountability are to be seen lurking there at the edge of the firelight.

    I was struck too by the fact that only the very best students have any shot at becoming teachers. This stands in embarrassing contrast to our system, in which those who major in education have historically been among the weakest of undergraduate and graduate students academically.

    Some who watched the film wondered whether we were really seeing the full spectrum of students there. There was a kind of Brady Bunch look about them, it must be admitted. We hear the same thing, though, about our school, where so many of the girls, it seems, become miraculously blonde by ninth grade.

    All in all, we have a saying here that our school is "not the real world." I guess I am left wondering the same thing about Finland.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Missy
Total: 394 (members: 2, guests: 377, robots: 15)
test