LGP Education thread

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LGP Education thread

Postby count2infinity on Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:43 pm

A very interesting read: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/arc ... ss/250564/

From his point of view, Americans are consistently obsessed with certain questions: How can you keep track of students' performance if you don't test them constantly? How can you improve teaching if you have no accountability for bad teachers or merit pay for good teachers? How do you foster competition and engage the private sector? How do you provide school choice?

The answers Finland provides seem to run counter to just about everything America's school reformers are trying to do.

For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.

Instead, the public school system's teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.

As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. "There's no word for accountability in Finnish," he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. "Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted."

For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master's degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it.

And while Americans love to talk about competition, Sahlberg points out that nothing makes Finns more uncomfortable. In his book Sahlberg quotes a line from Finnish writer named Samuli Puronen: "Real winners do not compete." It's hard to think of a more un-American idea, but when it comes to education, Finland's success shows that the Finnish attitude might have merits. There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.

Finally, in Finland, school choice is noticeably not a priority, nor is engaging the private sector at all. Which brings us back to the silence after Sahlberg's comment at the Dwight School that schools like Dwight don't exist in Finland.

"Here in America," Sahlberg said at the Teachers College, "parents can choose to take their kids to private schools. It's the same idea of a marketplace that applies to, say, shops. Schools are a shop and parents can buy what ever they want. In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same."
Last edited by count2infinity on Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby itissteeltime on Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:50 pm

I don't think I agree with this Finnish way of schooling, not sure why haha
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby count2infinity on Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:52 pm

itissteeltime wrote:I don't think I agree with this Finnish way of schooling, not sure why haha


lol... It's because you're 'merican and in 'merica we do things our way, not that soff european way!
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby itissteeltime on Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:57 pm

count2infinity wrote:
itissteeltime wrote:I don't think I agree with this Finnish way of schooling, not sure why haha


lol... It's because you're 'merican and in 'merica we do things our way, not that soff european way!


How do they weed out the weak?
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby Pavel Bure on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:00 pm

As soon as those surveys start testing the top 5% of 15 year old American students and comparing them with the world they have very little merit. At 15 every child in America is still required to go to school however the rest of the world does not operate like this. The American system is considered poor when compared worldwide is because all American students are tested not the top students where as the rest of the world only has top students left at that age because they want to be in school and work hard to be there instead of being forced to go there.

In my opinion the problem with America's school system is two fold 1. NCLB and 2. Forcing children to go to school when clearly some don't belong in regular school and should be in trade schools learning a skill. So no I don't buy into the Finnish way of teaching because the students tested/polled do not represent their entire population while the Americans tested do.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby count2infinity on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:12 pm

Pavel Bure wrote:As soon as those surveys start testing the top 5% of 15 year old American students and comparing them with the world they have very little merit. At 15 every child in America is still required to go to school however the rest of the world does not operate like this. The American system is considered poor when compared worldwide is because all American students are tested not the top students where as the rest of the world only has top students left at that age because they want to be in school and work hard to be there instead of being forced to go there.

In my opinion the problem with America's school system is two fold 1. NCLB and 2. Forcing children to go to school when clearly some don't belong in regular school and should be in trade schools learning a skill. So no I don't buy into the Finnish way of teaching because the students tested/polled do not represent their entire population while the Americans tested do.


For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.


I've said it for years... high school isn't for everyone.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby mac5155 on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:14 pm

I wonder how the crime rate and other things would be affected if school wasn't mandatory. I'm not saying I'm against making it optional but I just don't think it would work out as well as I think it would.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby Gaucho on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:19 pm

itissteeltime wrote:
count2infinity wrote:
itissteeltime wrote:I don't think I agree with this Finnish way of schooling, not sure why haha


lol... It's because you're 'merican and in 'merica we do things our way, not that soff european way!


How do they weed out the weak?




And while Americans love to talk about competition, Sahlberg points out that nothing makes Finns more uncomfortable. In his book Sahlberg quotes a line from Finnish writer named Samuli Puronen: "Real winners do not compete." It's hard to think of a more un-American idea, but when it comes to education, Finland's success shows that the Finnish attitude might have merits. There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby itissteeltime on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:26 pm

count2infinity wrote:
Pavel Bure wrote:As soon as those surveys start testing the top 5% of 15 year old American students and comparing them with the world they have very little merit. At 15 every child in America is still required to go to school however the rest of the world does not operate like this. The American system is considered poor when compared worldwide is because all American students are tested not the top students where as the rest of the world only has top students left at that age because they want to be in school and work hard to be there instead of being forced to go there.

In my opinion the problem with America's school system is two fold 1. NCLB and 2. Forcing children to go to school when clearly some don't belong in regular school and should be in trade schools learning a skill. So no I don't buy into the Finnish way of teaching because the students tested/polled do not represent their entire population while the Americans tested do.


For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.


I've said it for years... high school isn't for everyone.


That's true. I think you could make an argument that there's a ridiculous amount of 14 year olds that are rebellious and decide theyre too cool for school. But, they're forced to stay in school and go on to do great things because of it. There is something to be said for keeping kids in school. 14 year olds don't know anything. I'm also not totally a NCLB fan.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby npv708 on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:38 pm

itissteeltime wrote:
count2infinity wrote:
Pavel Bure wrote:As soon as those surveys start testing the top 5% of 15 year old American students and comparing them with the world they have very little merit. At 15 every child in America is still required to go to school however the rest of the world does not operate like this. The American system is considered poor when compared worldwide is because all American students are tested not the top students where as the rest of the world only has top students left at that age because they want to be in school and work hard to be there instead of being forced to go there.

In my opinion the problem with America's school system is two fold 1. NCLB and 2. Forcing children to go to school when clearly some don't belong in regular school and should be in trade schools learning a skill. So no I don't buy into the Finnish way of teaching because the students tested/polled do not represent their entire population while the Americans tested do.


For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.


I've said it for years... high school isn't for everyone.


That's true. I think you could make an argument that there's a ridiculous amount of 14 year olds that are rebellious and decide theyre too cool for school, only to go on and become brilliant minds. There is something to be said for keeping kids in school. 14 year olds don't know anything. I'm also not totally a NCLB fan.


NCLB is a disaster. I could probably go into a massive rant about it, but won't for the sake of this discussion. It emphasizes everything that's wrong with America. It eliminates the "middle class" of education, for both schools and students. The richer schools get richer, the poorer schools get poorer and the smarter students get more help, while the less intelligent get little help. In an ironic way to look at it, NCLB has created an education knowledge gap between the have and the have-nots. Schools that need the most help are the ones getting the least help, while massive cheating scandals have been exposed nationwide. NCLB just contributed to the downfall of a system that has not been updated in structure since the 1890's.

I consider NCLB one of the biggest failures of the Bush Presidency and that should say a lot.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby Pavel Bure on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:46 pm

itissteeltime wrote:
count2infinity wrote:
Pavel Bure wrote:As soon as those surveys start testing the top 5% of 15 year old American students and comparing them with the world they have very little merit. At 15 every child in America is still required to go to school however the rest of the world does not operate like this. The American system is considered poor when compared worldwide is because all American students are tested not the top students where as the rest of the world only has top students left at that age because they want to be in school and work hard to be there instead of being forced to go there.

In my opinion the problem with America's school system is two fold 1. NCLB and 2. Forcing children to go to school when clearly some don't belong in regular school and should be in trade schools learning a skill. So no I don't buy into the Finnish way of teaching because the students tested/polled do not represent their entire population while the Americans tested do.


For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.


I've said it for years... high school isn't for everyone.


That's true. I think you could make an argument that there's a ridiculous amount of 14 year olds that are rebellious and decide theyre too cool for school. But, they're forced to stay in school and go on to do great things because of it. There is something to be said for keeping kids in school. 14 year olds don't know anything. I'm also not totally a NCLB fan.

That's why the vast majority of other countries have trade schools where students learn skills to get jobs. I'm not advocating them stopping going to school but the general education is terrible. If they don't want to stay in "regular" school then go learn a trade and enter the workforce. That's how it usually works.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby blackjack68 on Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:59 pm

itissteeltime wrote:
count2infinity wrote:
itissteeltime wrote:I don't think I agree with this Finnish way of schooling, not sure why haha


lol... It's because you're 'merican and in 'merica we do things our way, not that soff european way!


How do they weed out the weak?


They send them to the NHL.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby count2infinity on Fri Dec 30, 2011 2:04 pm

itissteeltime wrote:
count2infinity wrote:
itissteeltime wrote:I don't think I agree with this Finnish way of schooling, not sure why haha


lol... It's because you're 'merican and in 'merica we do things our way, not that soff european way!


How do they weed out the weak?


i know you're being sarcastic... but to be completely honest, in America there's no way to weed out the weak, at all.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby Gaucho on Fri Dec 30, 2011 2:09 pm

blackjack68 wrote:
itissteeltime wrote:
count2infinity wrote:
itissteeltime wrote:I don't think I agree with this Finnish way of schooling, not sure why haha


lol... It's because you're 'merican and in 'merica we do things our way, not that soff european way!


How do they weed out the weak?


They send them to the NHL.


Nananana nanana nanana nananananana
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby MWB on Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:47 pm

count2infinity wrote:A very interesting read: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/arc ... ss/250564/

Instead, the public school system's teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.


I think some schools have tried doing this, making things more individualized for everyone. The problem is, trying to do that and teach for a standardized test to cover everyone is very cumbersome and impossible time wise. However, focusing on each individual student is the right way to go.

People need to be open to new ideas on concepts. Many people say how awful public education is, but then are the first to fight against new ideas.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby count2infinity on Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:15 pm

I worked/went to school in Bedford County. There are 5 public schools there... I've had this idea for a long time that I think would work, but would likely never happen. The two biggest schools in the county are pretty much centrally located. Keep those two as "regular" high schools. That leaves 3 other schools... make one a math/science accelerated school, one an ag/tech/trade school, and one an arts/business/english school. Everyone can go to the two "regular" high schools, but you have to test/qualify for the 3 specialized schools. If you really think about it, by high school kids have a good idea as far as what general thing they want to do with their life. Make it so that if they change their mind, they can transfer if they qualify, but limit the transferring to a certain number of times. I realize it's a lot of work, but I think that it'd work great given time for people to get adjusted... but then again, I don't have a PhD in education and i'm not the Department of Ed so what do I know???
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby itissteeltime on Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:24 pm

count2infinity wrote:If you really think about it, by high school kids have a good idea as far as what general thing they want to do with their life.


I disagree. I think the large majority of students go into college undecided.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby count2infinity on Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:28 pm

itissteeltime wrote:
count2infinity wrote:If you really think about it, by high school kids have a good idea as far as what general thing they want to do with their life.


I disagree. I think the large majority of students go into college undecided.


I taught for a couple years... I didn't mean that they knew EXACTLY what they wanted to do with their life. What i meant was they know if they want to go to college (and often times know if they have what it takes for college), want to go military, want to do trade stuff, like science/math, like english/arts, believe me, they have a far better understanding of their skill sets and an idea of what direction they want to take by 9th grade, and those that don't know, just go to the "regular" high school.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby TheHammer24 on Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:32 pm

c2i - I haven't read the article thoroughly yet, and I'm always interested in your ideas on this subject, but I wonder what your take is on this aspect:

or Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master's degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it.


This is in stark contrast with the utterly saturated teacher market in the United States, particularly in Western PA. Assuming this could fix the problem, how could we begin to implement these kind of change in the American system?
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby count2infinity on Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:40 pm

The best way to change that? Supply and demand! Did you know that most schools pay the chemistry teacher (a very specialized and intense amount of work to get the degree...believe me ;)) and the history teacher (dime a dozen, no offense history teachers out there) the same amount? The nation is just absolutely saturated with elementary ed and history teachers and there just isn't a demand for them. So pay those teachers that take more/harder training to get the degree more money. Also, keep the pay about where it's at for starting teachers (pretty low) and then after a certain number of years, boost the pay to make it a comfortable/prestigious job (similar to how doctors go through their residency), but make it so that teachers have to work their butt off (as most do, but some don't) to keep their job. Make it easier for administrators to fire bad teachers. As much as I know a lot of people out there have a problem with this coming statement, i feel as though it's true... get rid of the union. it was created with good intentions but has been morphed into something that protects the bad teachers as well as the good ones.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby Pavel Bure on Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:41 pm

Teaching programs are way too easy IMO right now. I can tell you the majority of my classmates are not what I would consider smart enough to be teachers. Can't do simple math, can't write simple papers, don't understand science, the list goes on and they want to teach. It's quite frankly terrible that these people will be educating children.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby count2infinity on Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:43 pm

Yeah, as Pavel stated, it's too easy to get a teaching degree at the moment. They have an exam called a praxis exam. It's very very simple math and English questions that a mediocre student could pass, but yet i hear people take 2 or 3 times to pass it... ridiculous.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby TheHammer24 on Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:43 pm

count2infinity wrote:The best way to change that? Supply and demand! Did you know that most schools pay the chemistry teacher (a very specialized and intense amount of work to get the degree...believe me ;)) and the history teacher (dime a dozen, no offense history teachers out there) the same amount? The nation is just absolutely saturated with elementary ed and history teachers and there just isn't a demand for them. So pay those teachers that take more/harder training to get the degree more money. Also, keep the pay about where it's at for starting teachers (pretty low) and then after a certain number of years, boost the pay to make it a comfortable/prestigious job (similar to how doctors go through their residency), but make it so that teachers have to work their butt off (as most do, but some don't) to keep their job. Make it easier for administrators to fire bad teachers. As much as I know a lot of people out there have a problem with this coming statement, i feel as though it's true... get rid of the union. it was created with good intentions but has been morphed into something that protects the bad teachers as well as the good ones.
I'm on board with most of those reforms, but I still think the market (at least west Pa) would be pretty saturated. You're right. There's just so maaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnyyyyyyy Elementary Ed teachers.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby MWB on Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:02 pm

TheHammer24 wrote:c2i - I haven't read the article thoroughly yet, and I'm always interested in your ideas on this subject, but I wonder what your take is on this aspect:

or Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master's degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it.


This is in stark contrast with the utterly saturated teacher market in the United States, particularly in Western PA. Assuming this could fix the problem, how could we begin to implement these kind of change in the American system?


That really is one of the big keys... Make it more difficult to become a teacher. That will result in better teachers. The problem with that is that teachers (rightfully so) would want to be paid at a higher level. And I agree with c2i, at least to some extent, to get rid of unions. Or at least limit their power in terms of protecting teachers from being fired. Right now in union states, tenure means everything. It shouldn't be that way, and the only way to change that is to change the unions.

The other issue with this idea of principals being responsible for dealing with bad teachers is that they simply don't have time now. Their primary concern is dealing with difficult students/parents. If we went to a system of more trade schools/less cookie cutter high schools, that problem would diminish as well.
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Re: What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school succ

Postby TheHammer24 on Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:04 pm

MWB wrote:
TheHammer24 wrote:c2i - I haven't read the article thoroughly yet, and I'm always interested in your ideas on this subject, but I wonder what your take is on this aspect:

or Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master's degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it.


This is in stark contrast with the utterly saturated teacher market in the United States, particularly in Western PA. Assuming this could fix the problem, how could we begin to implement these kind of change in the American system?


That really is one of the big keys... Make it more difficult to become a teacher. That will result in better teachers. The problem with that is that teachers (rightfully so) would want to be paid at a higher level. And I agree with c2i, at least to some extent, to get rid of unions. Or at least limit their power in terms of protecting teachers from being fired. Right now in union states, tenure means everything. It shouldn't be that way, and the only way to change that is to change the unions.

The other issue with this idea of principals being responsible for dealing with bad teachers is that they simply don't have time now. Their primary concern is dealing with difficult students/parents. If we went to a system of more trade schools/less cookie cutter high schools, that problem would diminish as well.

Agreed. You don't really need to raise pay. There's already a ridiculous supply. You just need to make district hire more selectively and fire with more ease. The first step truly is pretty easy. Eliminate the unions.
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