Tuesday, December 06, 2016

if you are the best...

If you are the best in the world, what do you do next? If it is in behalf of your children, you take steps to become better yet. Here in the US, however, parents attempt to isolate their own children from the rabble and provide themselves an excuse to ignore public education.

Finland has been lauded as having the best public schools in the world, and yet they continue to develop and grow toward a more ideal education. Teaching is an art, after all, and artists should be supplied with all the tools necessary for their creativity and success.

The latest in Finland is that they have chosen to remove all the artificial boundaries between various disciplines. They will have no subject areas: no math, no chemistry, no social studies, etc. They have been involved for years now in an extensive teacher retraining, so that all the abstract and artificial boundaries will be removed. In case you are wondering, this is a bold move, and most of the educational world is astonished by what they have done.

Let's look at my own simplified theory of education. 1. Children love learning. 2. They have real interests that teachers can help to sustain, by doing real things. To develop a strategy to meet these two realizations, we must:  1. keep education real by doing real things, and 2. keep it meaningful by  supporting the child's interests to do real meaningful things on behalf of family, community and planet.

This does not mean the teacher simply sits at the sideline and watches a room full of cats playing on keyboards. The teachers are the adults who have experience and training in guiding growth.

It is tragic that in the USA,  people think that we are the greatest nation, that all good things were invented here, and that if it wasn't invented here, it is of little or no value.

Several years ago (2008) I asked the dean of the graduate school in behavioral sciences at the University of Helsinki whether they had been able to find evidence of the role of educational sloyd in the success of their schooling. It was actually too narrow a question. The one I should have asked was whether they might find evidence of Uno Cygnaeus' implementation of Kindergarten style learning in the success of Finnish Schools. If you go to Finland and visit a school, you will find evidence of learning through play and evidence of learning cooperatively by doing real things that break the boundaries of traditional disciplines.

In the US, we should embark on a serious program to learn a few old things about learning. In the meantime, some reality can be restored to American Schooling through the following things: Wood shop, music, field trips, museum visits, internships, math through manipulables, dramatic performances, art and other activities that are truly meaningful to kids.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others may be empowered to learn likewise.

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