“This creativity aspect is very important because in Finland we believe that risk-taking, creativity and innovation are very, very important for a society like ours. And particularly working in this global and globalized world it is more important than what you actually know and remember, it is more what you are and what you are capable of doing.” ~ Pasi Sahlberg
Watch this video!
Key Drivers of Educational Performance in Finland — Listen in as Pasi Sahlberg describes how Finland created the highest-ranking education system in the world. (22 min., 21 sec.)
In both Asia and North America, schools are driven by statistics and measurements that guide many of the decisions made about how to improve and excel. Meanwhile Finland continues to beat to it’s own drum, to think and to act differently… and to outperform data-driven countries. What I found most compelling about this talk was the data-driven evidence that suggests that educational reforms we are seeking globally are counter-productive. What scares me most about this is that it seems so many people I’m connected to online intuitively know this already, and yet standardization, test-taking and a ‘more time in the classroom’ focus seems to prevail in most of the ‘reform’ that is happening now.
In my last post I said, “more and more, I’m thinking that the changes we want… and need… involve truly questioning everything we do structurally and why we do it?”
More questions come to mind when I hear this talk and see the graphs Sahlberg shares:
In ‘Thinking about Change‘ I recently said,
“We have to stop counting a teacher’s ‘instructional minutes’ and start giving them ‘learning minutes’. We have to stop talking about ‘teaming’ and starting giving teachers time to be a team.
What if a teacher had 1/3 of the day to plan, collaborate and yes even prep for their classes? What if at least one course every year had to be co-taught with another teacher in the room? How would these structural changes open doors for some cultural changes in school?
1. Time- Pro-D, preparation, planning & play
2. Co-teaching & collaboration opportunities
3. Models & Mentorship
When I think about changes in schools, I want to believe that we can implement structural changes that encourage our teachers to be better, by design of those changes, not in spite of them. I want to believe that we can’t complain about a broken model and then try to fit a new plan into the same model.”
Less is more: Teach less, learn more.
This applies to students and instructional time too! (The US fits somewhere between France and the Netherlands.)
The best graph that Sahlberg shared reminded me a lot about what Andy Hargreaves preaches in ‘The Fourth Way‘, “Responsibility before Accountability”. This was what I came up with after a presentation with Hargreaves:
Here is the graph shared by Sahlberg:
The Finnish Way is to prioritize “Professionalism” over “Marketization”. I love the use of the term ‘Marketization’ as textbooks and testing are ‘big business’ and I question how much of the ‘Global Educational Reform Movement’ is influenced and driven by profit?
Less is more: Teach less, learn more. This approach can not be fostered in a model of ‘Marketization’.
“Risk-taking, creativity and innovation” are not fostered in a model of ‘Marketization’.
Professionalism is not fostered in a model of ‘Marketization’.
In a ‘market’ model there are always winners and losers. In education, every student needs to be provided with the opportunity for individualized success.
Who benefits from a sub-standard but highly standardized educational system? Reform suggests the restructuring, not redecoration, of an antiquated model. What model to you want for your students? What model do you want for your children? What model do you want for the future innovators and leaders of our world?