Monday, March 26, 2012

Teachers TV: Outdoor Learning with Forest School

The Forest Schools concept comes originally from Scandinavia where there has been a long tradition of encouraging young children to play and learn in the outdoors, in ‘Getting Out of the Classroom.

Friday, March 9, 2012

No Classroom Schools

The traditional setup of school classrooms—straight rows of desks with accompanying chairs—doesn't do much to foster creativity or collaboration. Many experts have proposed redesigning classroom furniture, but a Swedish school system wants to take things a step further. Vittra, which operates 30 schools in Sweden, is seeking to ensure learning takes place everywhere on campus by eliminating classrooms altogether. 


Monday, February 20, 2012

What exactly is this PISA test?

We hear in the Finland Phenomenon how their students outperform the rest of the world in international testing. The PISA test (Programme for International Student Assessment), is a three-yearly assessment of 15-year old students in OECD member countries. 2009 was the last year of completion. What do these these tests of reading, math, and science look like? Are they pedagogically fit for use in comparing national education systems? Take the following sample test and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Click this link PISA SAMPLE TEST

Monday, February 6, 2012

Common Sense - Poverty = Finland's Education Success

Last summer I wrote a blog post (link below) after reading reviews of Dr. Tony Wagner's Finland Phenomenon and an article by Dr. Stephen Krashen. There are many on each side of this debate - each very quick to judge - and the following post was an attempt to glean the best from each. While some suggest the mere implementation of Finnish practices will bring us to the promised land, others dismiss  the success story as attainable only in homogenous and economically equitable societies. Perhaps in reality we can take cues from each side and see how they relate to us at ISB. One of the goals of the Lunchtime Inspiration sessions (apart from the lunch) is reflection; and by examining the practices of others we hope we learn more about ourselves.

Common Sense - Poverty = Finland's Education Success
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Susie's Thoughts

Our grade 3 teacher, Susie Hart sent me her comments after we viewed the first part our study on Finnish Schools. You can comment under any post...


It's not rocket science

What makes Finland different?
It is about where the Finnish Powerful believe their investments should be channeled.

In the video we heard that Finland has recognized that its only major export is intelligence. I wonder where critical thinking would rank in America's list of major exports? Or, in that of any industrialized nation where the majority exports are objects? In manufacturing countries you really don't want to have a nation of thinkers. You want, what we have, an industrialized vision of education where everyone learns their small part and they learn to do it well, over and over, without questioning it.

Singapore is another country which is seen as a beacon of learning. Why? Same thing. What else do they have to offer? Why do Asian societies seem to have such a higher level of respect for education? Because those countries that don't already control all the other major world assets!

So how come China, as a major manufacturing player with plenty of assets, seems to be doing so well academically too?

In my view it is because they can see the future and, instead of wanting to jump in bed with the big guys or fight against them (aka the Cold War), they want to take them on at their own game by creating a whole new hand of cards.

Is it really surprising that all the major players are beginning to pay attention to the importance of learning in the 21st century? Of course not. They, like Finland, Singapore and China know that industrial prosperity cannot continue, at least not at the same pace. The future will require people to find alternative sources of energy by working together across national boundaries.

None of this is rocket science. How does the "little guy" ever compete with the "big, powerful, rich guy"? He outwits him - obviously.

The question remains, however, what can we learn (and apply) from Finland's investment into its future generations?

International schools, especially the smaller, community schools, have a lot of similarities with Finland's model. For the most part, I believe that we have supportive, well-educated families, we have small classes sizes, we have resources, we have flexibility in curriculum planning and assessment, we have an open, intelligent and forward thinking group of educators, and we have well-adjusted, responsive students.

Yay, for us!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Can U.S. Schools Learn from Foreign Counterparts?

Marc Tucker, president of NCEE and author of Surpassing Shanghai, says U.S. educators typically have not been receptive to adopting best practices from foreign nations, but he believes their resistance is thawing.“We’ve encountered a view of real suspicion, and often outright rejection, because Americans of many stripes, both left and right, viewed the experience of other countries as irrelevant for a long list of reasons,” he says. “People would say, ‘Those countries are all homogeneous; we’re very heterogeneous. Those countries educate some people, and we educate everybody.’ The evidence that other countries were outperforming us was rejected out of hand because American educators felt they were unfair comparisons.”