Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Educational reforms in Finland

From Dennis Hayes, Professor of Education at University of Derby:

"It easy to lampoon education reforms in Finland that aim to scrap the teaching of traditional subjects in favour of broader topics. The new initiative could see history, geography and languages replaced for periods by interdisciplinary "phenomenon-based" projects on topics such as the European Union. Instead of sitting in rows learning facts about the world, pupils can rush around corridors or the web and collect information in a spirit of "joyful learning".

"Ridicule was my immediate response but what is happening has serious and sad consequences. It will ultimately waste not only children’s time, but their education."

"The reasons given in Finland for the reforms are a familiar: this set of initiatives is necessary to meet the challenges of working life in "modern society". What it means is that education is no longer valued for its own sake but is seen as having instrumental value for the economy. This is often supported by claims about how to stop education being boring and make it more relevant through new pedagogic practices. The pattern is the same across the world and we are seeing a shift from a concern with classroom content to a concern with practice."

"There is a lesson here for every teacher and parent. Even in a country often lauded as an educational success story, if you do not understand why your education system was excellent you can still throw it away."

Knowledge and skills

"The idea of being "modern" and promoting projects, multi-disciplinary activities and communication skills instead of traditional subjects is a rejection of education. But some people, including a few of my colleagues, celebrate this shift and one praised it as "thinking outside of the box". I was even invited to celebrate this change by watching a live streamed event which would emphasise "Finland’s recent decision to de-silo".

Like Canada etc, Scotland too is promoting interdisciplinary learning in Curriculum for Excellence. In other words, project based learning is very much `inside the box` these days.

Here are some of the supposed benefits:

Learners are motivated and involved; they demonstrate an inquisitive attitude. Learners develop confidence in facing challenges, both intellectual and practical. Learning is connected and directly related to real-life experiences. Learners work individually and collaboratively... 
It supports the development of skills for learning, life and work.

 See also

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