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#1319938 --- 01/24/12 02:58 AM Finnish Lessons
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/10/10
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Loc: NYS
Finland has been a flashpoint of debate in American education reform circles lately. The small Nordic nation of 5.5 million has earned great notice for dramatically improving its international test scores to the point now where its kids routinely rank among the very best in the world academically.

When reformers complain about the mediocre test performance of the U.S. they sometimes point to Finland, a nation that 30 years ago also had mediocre scores before a steady rise that eventually pushed it to the top of the heap. Some are asking: If Finland can do it, why can’t we?

Finland’s system, he said, could not work in the U.S. Factors of societal, economic and cultural differences must be considered and will always shape a country’s education system to make it unique.

But if Sahlberg insisted he couldn’t prescribe exactly what the U.S. needs to do to succeed, he was confident he could identify some of what we’re doing wrong. He shared four lessons for the U.S. from Finland that challenge some of the school reform conventional wisdom in the U.S. and especially in Indiana.

In short, he argued that several of the fundamental beliefs of reformers here — reformers like Bennett — were just flat wrong.

Lesson 3: Test less, learn more

Finland has little high stakes standardized testing and is actually seeking to test kids less often. Sahlberg does not even believe every child needs to be regularly tested in this way. Finland has one universal standardized test (think SAT) given to students at age 19 who are going on to college.

Sahlberg noted that the U.S. and countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Japan that have pushed in the direction of more testing all saw their math scores drop since they began those efforts while Finland’s scores keep going up.

The U.S., with its expansive testing required by NCLB, is in a league of its own, he said. Testing gets schools away from the business of learning, he argued.

No other country has ever done anything as stupid as this,” he said. “There is no evidence this makes you succeed.”

Instead, countries should just test random samples of kids to assure schools and school systems are moving in the right direction.

The acceptance rate for ultra-competitive teacher training programs is just 10 percent (about as hard as getting into an Ivy League school here). Students are expected to complete masters degrees before they can begin teaching and the degree programs are research-based and rigorous, requiring a thesis project as in other challenging fields.

Oh and college and graduate school in Finland is entirely free, paid for by the government.

Sahlberg bemoaned the American obsession with performance pay and the war here on unions (95 percent of teachers in Finland belong to unions).

“Rewarding individuals for good performance will not change the system,” he said. “This is nonsense. It doesn’t work like this.”

The U.S. seems to be working toward “de-professionalizing” teaching, Sahlberg said, pointedly criticizing programs like Teach For America, which place recent graduates mostly from elite colleges in classrooms after a summer training session.

“There is this ‘anybody can teach’ mentality,” he said. “As long as you come from Harvard you can be a teacher after a five-week summer course. There is very little hope for success with these policies.”
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#1319981 --- 01/24/12 01:00 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
cwjga Online   content
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Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 12650
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: twocats


“There is this ‘anybody can teach’ mentality,” he said. “As long as you come from Harvard you can be a teacher after a five-week summer course. There is very little hope for success with these policies.”


Bingo, I think you have it.

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#1320227 --- 01/25/12 04:57 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
Offline

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Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 7644
Quote:
“No other country has ever done anything as stupid as this,” he said.
I beg to differ, the history books are full of stupid things done by countries. And police blotter around the country are full stupid stuff done by your colleagues.

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#1320293 --- 01/25/12 07:38 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: ]
Ayuveda Offline
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Registered: 04/05/10
Posts: 6367
Loc: Imagine
Originally Posted By: Chicago Jesus
Quote:
“No other country has ever done anything as stupid as this,” he said.
I beg to differ, the history books are full of stupid things done by countries. And police blotter around the country are full stupid stuff done by your colleagues.


colleagues?

You really want to bring up police blotters state-by-state? How about we start a roll call of violent crimes committed by your mentally disturbed, neglected and disenfranchised 'brother veterans' in need of help,returning home with murder and mayhem on their minds.
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#1320305 --- 01/25/12 07:52 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: Ayuveda]
Offline

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Registered: 01/16/12
Posts: 7644
Originally Posted By: Ayuveda
Originally Posted By: Chicago Jesus
Quote:
“No other country has ever done anything as stupid as this,” he said.
I beg to differ, the history books are full of stupid things done by countries. And police blotter around the country are full stupid stuff done by your colleagues.


colleagues?

You really want to bring up police blotters state-by-state? How about we start a roll call of violent crimes committed by your mentally disturbed, neglected and disenfranchised 'brother veterans' in need of help,returning home with murder and mayhem on their minds.
Feel free, that should keep you busy for at least a year.

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#1320329 --- 01/25/12 09:24 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: cwjga]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: cwjga
Originally Posted By: twocats


“There is this ‘anybody can teach’ mentality,” he said. “As long as you come from Harvard you can be a teacher after a five-week summer course. There is very little hope for success with these policies.”


Bingo, I think you have it.


I am shocked and pleased that you are not a TFA supporter. We've found common ground.
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1320342 --- 01/25/12 10:00 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
bluezone Offline
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Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 33253
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats
He shared four lessons for the U.S. from Finland that challenge some of the school reform conventional wisdom in the U.S. and especially in Indiana.


Lesson 3: Test less, learn more

Finland has little...


and what are lessons 1, 2 and 4?

_________________________
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1320343 --- 01/25/12 10:04 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 33253
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats
“Rewarding individuals for good performance will not change the system,” he said. “This is nonsense. It doesn’t work like this.”


that is how the real job market operates
rewarded for performance
_________________________
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1320350 --- 01/25/12 10:30 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
MeRightYouWrong Offline
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Registered: 06/30/11
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mountain of Truth
The Crisis of Education in America: "How to Become a Serf"
A society in which people exist for the sake of companies is a society enslaved
by John Kozy


Educational systems now train workers to fulfill the needs of companies. A society in which people exist for the sake of companies is a society enslaved. But there's a deep problem with the notion that education should equal vocational training. To paraphrase a very famous and renowned person, man does not live by work alone. Indeed, the knowledge and skills needed to earn a living in a capitalist industrial economy are of little use in human relationships, and human relationships are the core of everyone's life. Schools devoted to vocational training provide no venue for teaching cultural differences, for trying to understand the person who lives next door or in another country. Value systems are never evaluated; alternatives are never considered. As a result, although we all live on the same planet, we do not live together. At best, we only live side by side. At worst, we live to kill each other. Education as vocational training reduces everything to ideology, our devotion to which causes us to reject the stark reality that stares us in the face, because our ideologies color the realities we see and people never get wiser than those of previous generations. People have become nothing but the monkeys of hurdy gurdy grinders, tethered to grinders' organs with tin cups in hands to be filled for the benefit of the grinders. And this is the species we refer to as sapient. What a delusion!


For many years, I have been troubled by what I saw as the results of what passes for education in America and perhaps elsewhere too. Why is it, do you suppose, that one generation does not seem to get any smarter than the previous one? Oh, it may know more of this or that, but what it "knows" does not translate into smarts. In other words, why don't people ever seem to get wiser? Why do they repeat the same mistakes over and over?

For centuries, an education was thought to be comprised of considerably more than one providing the skills and requirements needed to carry on a trade or profession. For instance, consider this passage:

"Education is not the same as training. Plato made the distinction between techne (skill) and episteme (knowledge). Becoming an educated person goes beyond the acquisition of a technical skill. It requires an understanding of one’s place in the world—cultural as well as natural—in pursuit of a productive and meaningful life. And it requires historical perspective so that one does not just live, as Edmund Burke said, like 'the flies of a summer,' born one day and gone the next, but as part of that 'social contract' that binds our generation to those who have come before and to those who are yet to be born.

An education that achieves those goals must include the study of what Matthew Arnold called 'the best that has been known and said.' It must comprehend the whole -- the human world and its history, our own culture and those very different from ours. . . ."

This idea of an educated person was often summarized in the phrases, a Renaissance man, and un homme du monde. But these expressions are hardly heard any more. Educated people no longer exist. We are nothing but the monkeys of hurdy gurdy grinders, tethered to grinders' organs with tin cups in hands to be filled for the benefit of the grinders.

"Governor Rick Snyder wants to tie retraining programs to companies' needs . . . and encourage more Michigan residents to earn math and science degrees under an initiative aimed at making workers more competitive in the global marketplace."

The hurdy gurdy grinder's monkey exists for the sake of the organ grinder; Governor Snyder wants Michigan's residents to educate themselves for the sake of companies. Workers are to fulfill companies' needs rather than vice versa. President Obama has said similar things.

But there's something wrong, something terribly wrong, with this picture. A society in which people exist for the sake of some non-human entity is a society enslaved. And this picture gets even more horrid with the realization that workers are expected to pay to acquire the required skills. Students are being asked to pay for the privilege of becoming serfs.

Living things in the natural world exist as ends in themselves. Everything they do is done for their own benefit or the benefit of their offspring. Horses in the wild do not acquire skills in order to perform tasks that benefit other horses. When a human being acquires a horse and trains it to perform a skill for the person's benefit, the person provides for all the natural needs of his horse. Horses don't come begging to be trained to be ridden. What kind of perversion is the requirement that people should beg to be trained to be serfs?

But neither a hurdy gurdy grinder's monkey or a riding horse are educated; they are trained. There is no such thing as a Renaissance monkey!

Education in America, and perhaps other places too, is as fractured as shattered glass. The federal agency called the Department of Education's only power is the ability to cajole schools mainly by offering them money. There are public and private schools, and the public ones are governed by local school boards, the members of which are not even required to be able to read or write. State school boards exist to have some influence over local boards, but again, the power of the states is limited. Education in America is a local affair. The people on these school boards are the ones that control what is and how it is taught. For instance, creationism is often given equal standing with evolution. Students are often required to engage in practices that are clearly unconstitutional. All of this is done to suit the views of school board members, not society or even students.

Teachers are certified by subject matter. Perfectly good mathematics teachers may not be able to write literate essays. English teachers are not required to understand even elementary algebra. The schools do not employ hommes de monde. And what is true in the primary and secondary schools is also true in colleges and universities. Les specialistes rule the classroom. Trained monkeys all!

Now vocational training works, of course, if people know what industries need workers and if workers want those jobs. But often, especially in times of crisis, this knowledge doesn't exist. Yet there's a deeper problem with the notion that education should equal vocational training. To paraphrase a very famous and renowned person, man does not live by work alone. Indeed, the knowledge and skills needed to earn a living in a capitalist industrial economy are of little use in human relationships, and human relationships are the core of everyone's life.

Although the United States is often referred to as a multicultural melting pot, most highly developed nations today have multicultural populations. Different cultures embody different values. Those values often clash and erupt in violent behavior. If people understood these cultural differences, these clashes could be ameliorated. But schools devoted to vocational training provide no venue for teaching cultural differences, for trying to understand the person who lives next door or in another country. Various value systems are never evaluated, and alternatives are never considered. As a result, although we all live on the same planet, we do not live together. At best, we only live side by side. At worst, we live to kill each other.

Education as vocational training reduces everything to ideology. Religion is an ideology and no one ever questions a person's right to her/his own. Economics, although often touted as a science, is an ideology. Part of free marked economic theory is the belief that when an established industry falters and declines, some new industry will come forth and employ the newly unemployed. But nothing in economics can compel that to happen. This belief is akin to the belief in a Second Coming. It is purely ideological. Even science has become an ideology. People believe, for instance, that science will discover solutions to all of our problems. But again, there is nothing in science that compels that. It is perfectly possible that, as human beings destroy their environment, science will be unable to correct the damage and that life on this planet will perish. Worse, ideologies contribute to human stupidity; our devotion to them causes us to reject the stark realities that stare us in the face.

So what is required if we are to make one generation smarter than the previous one? We need to educate Renaissance men who comprehend the whole human world, its history, our own culture, and those very different from ours. Vocational training will never produce such people.

John F. Kennedy was glorified when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country." Shouldn't he have been vilified? Do countries exist to benefit their peoples or do their peoples exist to benefit their countries? What good is a country that requires the sacrifice of its people?

Since the Enlightenment, it is generally agreed that legitimate governments are those that govern with the consent of their peoples. Does anyone really believe that people would consent to living in a nation that made it clear that the lives of most citizens would be fated to live for the benefit of the few who control the nation's institutions? Isn't that exactly what slavery is?

Analytical thinking, even when valid, can lead people down invalid roads, because analysis alone tends to overly simplify questions. When used to answer the question, What must be done to put unemployed people to work?, it leads to attempts to make education equivalent to vocational training. But when put into practice, it results in people who lack the ability to understand their value systems and evaluate them properly. They end up being hurdy gurdy monkeys or, as Arnold put it, the flies of a summer, born one day and gone the next. If a nation's institutions do not exist to benefit its citizens, the institutions, not the people, are faulty.

In Classical Greece it was known that the unexamined human life is not worth living. Vocational training never presents people with opportunities to examine one's life; so people end up relying entirely on ideologies which have no intellectual basis and are often absurdly false, but "falsehoods are not only evil in themselves, they infect the soul with evil."

If human beings wish to endure, their ideologies must be subjected to serious criticism; otherwise, no generation will ever be smarter than its predecessors and continuing to refer to ourselves as sapient is a sheer delusion.



John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site's homepage.

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#1320351 --- 01/25/12 10:40 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: bluezone]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: twocats
He shared four lessons for the U.S. from Finland that challenge some of the school reform conventional wisdom in the U.S. and especially in Indiana.


Lesson 3: Test less, learn more

Finland has little...


and what are lessons 1, 2 and 4?



You don't want to know. One of them said our students were in school for too many hours. Finnish elementary students go to school for 4 and a half hours a day. I didn't DARE put that up. HA!
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Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1320353 --- 01/25/12 10:46 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: MeRightYouWrong]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
"Teachers are certified by subject matter. Perfectly good mathematics teachers may not be able to write literate essays. English teachers are not required to understand even elementary algebra. The schools do not employ hommes de monde. And what is true in the primary and secondary schools is also true in colleges and universities. Les specialistes rule the classroom. Trained monkeys all!"

Except elementary teachers. We are trained in how children learn, human motivations, child development, brain function (and of course, how to train children to bubble in answers).
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Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1320354 --- 01/25/12 10:47 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
bluezone Offline
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Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 33253
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats

You don't want to know. One of them said our students were in school for too many hours. Finnish elementary students go to school for 4 and a half hours a day. I didn't DARE put that up. HA!


two more left
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"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1320355 --- 01/25/12 10:49 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
bluezone Offline
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Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 33253
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats
Finnish elementary students go to school for 4 and a half hours a day.


and how many hours for the higher grades?
_________________________
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1320358 --- 01/25/12 11:13 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: bluezone]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
I don't know, but I found this:

Delineated High School
While there is little grading and in essence no tracking in Finland, ninth grade does become a divider for Finnish students. Students are separated for the last three years of high school based on grades. Under the current structure, 53% will go to academic high school and the rest enter vocational school.

Using that format, Finland has an overall high-school dropout rate of about 4%. Even at the vocational schools the rate of 10% pummels America’s 25% high school drop out rate.

There is no silly “college for all” mantra and there certainly isn’t a push to have all students sit through a trigonometry class if that is not relevant to the student. More importantly, there is also no negative connotation to the concept of vocational school.

Imagine...students being allowed to learn a trade.
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Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1320361 --- 01/25/12 11:40 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
VM Smith Offline
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Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 38160
Loc: Ship of Fools
Quote:
53% will go to academic high school and the rest enter vocational school.


Sounds good; at least Finland will have qualified people in the skilled trades. America, it seems, is determined to have too few, while having a surfeit of people who have bought a "credentialist" degree, and who, not really being college material, have wasted their time and money.
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#1320362 --- 01/25/12 11:42 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: VM Smith]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
It's FANTASTIC; but, hey, what do we know?
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Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1320363 --- 01/25/12 11:45 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
VM Smith Offline
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Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 38160
Loc: Ship of Fools
Quote:
Oh and college and graduate school in Finland is entirely free


I'm guessing, while banging my head on the wall over that grammar, that the author is American.
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If you vote for government, you have no right to complain about what government does.

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#1320365 --- 01/25/12 11:51 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: VM Smith]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/10/10
Posts: 11904
Loc: NYS
HA! And look at this---Gasp! Not even allowed to be thought in this country...

While “the U.S. holds teachers accountable for teaching” in Finland “they hold the students accountable for learning.”

Perhaps more importantly, there is a realization of the realistic academic potential of the entire student population. As Murray notes in another article, “Half of all children are below average, and teachers can do only so much for them.”

Most educators cringe upon hearing such a statement given an inherent belief that they can make a difference in the life of a child. But Murray does not contest that thought. Instead he focuses on the fact that there are limitations to innate intelligence.

Murray’s opinion, and we concur, is that more American students should examine the option of vocational education/training. Notes Murray, finding a lawyer or physician is relatively easy but finding a plumber, carpenter or other qualified tradesman in America actually tends to be far more difficult.
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Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1320368 --- 01/25/12 11:58 PM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: twocats]
VM Smith Offline
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Registered: 11/29/05
Posts: 38160
Loc: Ship of Fools
One of my favorite true stories:

An advisor one told Ike that half the people in the country were below average intelligence. He replied, "Well, what can we do about it?".
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If you vote for government, you have no right to complain about what government does.

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#1320370 --- 01/26/12 12:01 AM Re: Finnish Lessons [Re: VM Smith]
Cuzi Sedso Offline
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Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 1428
Loc: NY
Guess they never visited Lake Woebegon.

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