Sunday, April 03, 2011

the anti-tiger mother approach

Time Magazine has an article this week about Finland's Educational Success-the anti-tiger mother approach." I'm very interested in Finland in part because it was the home of educational sloyd, and also because their educational method comes closest to our own at the Clear Spring School. I also presented a paper at the University of Helsinki and visited the wood shop there where kindergarten teachers learn to teach woodworking to their students, so I have been following the success of Finland's school model for some time. There are many educators from around the world wandering off to Finland to see what they can glean from Finland's methods. You can save big money by visiting here in Northwest Arkansas and would likely be just as blown away by what we are doing at the Clear Spring School.
The Finns are as surprised as much as anyone else that they have recently emerged as the new rock stars of global education. It surprises them because they do as little measuring and testing as they can get away with. They just don't believe it does much good. They did, however, decide to participate in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), run by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). And to put it in a way that would make the noncompetitive Finns cringe, they kicked major butt. The Finns have participated in the global survey four times and have usually placed among the top three finishers in reading, math and science.

In the latest PISA survey, in 2009, Finland placed second in science literacy, third in mathematics and second in reading. The U.S. came in 15th in reading, close to the OECD average, which is where most of the U.S.'s results fell.
The closest competitors are China and Korea where they use an oppressive rote memorization technique rather than one stimulating hands-on learning and student inquiry. So here in the US, we have a choice. We can either crack the whip and lose our creative edge and crap-can our joy of learning in the same snap, or we can move more clearly and firmly in the direction offered by Clear Spring and the hearty Finns.

The photo above is of students testing the mineral exploration tools they made in the Clear Spring School wood shop.

Make, fix and create.

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