Focus on Finland, and More Comparative Education

Today’s post is very short – just two references to two excellent articles that we strongly recommend as essential reading for anyone who cares about children and education. Please make time to have a look at them, and then scroll through some more photos we took at  the Courtauld collection – for more enjoyment of great art.

The first article comes from a business website – Business Insider International – and is yet another instance of business people being ahead of the game as far as understanding the real issues for education in the 21st Century. (3D Eye readers may recall our previous posts highlighting statements made by the Confederation of British Industry, and also articles in Forbes Magazine)

http://www.businessinsider.com/finland-education-school-2011-12?op=1

26 Amazing Facts About Finland’s Unorthodox Education System

Since it implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland’s school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings for education systems.

So how do they do it?

It’s simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses.

This article is a brilliant, easy to digest, and very well presented summary of the key differences that took Finland to the top of the international achievement rankings.

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The second article comes from this week’s Education Week

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/07/18/36zhao_ep.h31.html?tkn=RXPFfOWUi7DZOntAyaz6k5nhOdlVmzXjPjGS&cmp=clp-edweek

 Doublethink: The Creativity-Testing Conflict

 By Yong Zhao

Doublethink is “to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them,” according to George Orwell, who coined the phrase in his novel 1984.

American education policymakers have apparently entered the zone of doublethink.

They want future Americans to be globally competitive, to out-innovate others, and to become job-creating entrepreneurs. Last year, the Obama administration announced a $1 billion-plus public-private initiative to support entrepreneurial activities, which included support and rhetoric surrounding youth-entrepreneurship education. And the U.S. Department of Education says that “entrepreneurship education as a building block for a well-rounded education not only promises to make school rigorous, relevant, and engaging, but it creates the possibility for unleashing and cultivating creative energies and talents among students.”

State leaders have taken similar actions. California, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma have begun exploring the development of measures to gauge the extent to which schools foster creative and entrepreneurial qualities in their students, according to a Feb. 1, 2012, article in Education Week.

In the meantime, the policymakers want students to be excellent test-takers. The federal government is racing to the top of standardization and standardized testing; states are working hard to make two subjects common and core for all students; an increasing number of teachers are being paid based on their students’ test scores; and students are fed with an increasingly narrow, standardized, uniform, and imagination-depleted education diet. All these measures are intended to improve students’ academic achievement, or, in plain English, test scores.

But test scores are not measures of entrepreneurship or creativity. Not even scores on the intensely watched and universally worshiped Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, are good indicators of a nation’s capacity for entrepreneurship and creativity.

This article also highlights the achievements of Finland.

Here in England we might settle for “double-think”, since single-think still rules, as far as our politicians are concerned – the vast majority of our lawmakers and policy-drivers still believe that attainment in timed tests and examinations is the be-all and end-all.

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About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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