Sunday, January 13, 2013

Reform Lessons from Finland

From Sahlberg, P. (2010). Finnish Lessons: What the World Can Learn from Educational Change in Finland. New York: Teachers College Press.

"We should reconsider those education policies that advocate choice, competition, and privatization as the key drivers of sustained educational improvement. None of the best-performing education systems currently rely primarily on them. Indeed, the Finnish experience shows that a consistent focus on equality and shared responsibility--not choice and competition--can lead to an education system in which all children learn better than they did before. Hoping that the problem of inadequate education would be fixed by paying teachers based on their student's test scores or converting public schools into private ones through charters or other means is not included in the repertoire of educational improvement in Finland." (p. 134).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Response to Unfounded, Nonsensical Educational Reform Agendas:

We must be the educational leaders, teachers, parents, researchers, students, and American citizens that swim against the currents of unfounded, nonsensical educational reforms (and the present wave of unfounded, nonsensical educational reform efforts won't be the last). We must set and stay a course of coherence. We must displace the comfortable, quick-fix, unquestioned reliance on compliance with the passionate, patient, persistent discomfort of transformational change--toward excellent public schools in every community for every child. Kids don't grow by happenstance--first their fingers, then their toes, then their elbows, then their brains. Growth, rather, is collective; whole. It is a minute, ubiquitous, simultaneous symbiosis. Just as a fetus develops in the womb--moment by moment, day by day, month by month until the right time--children's understandings evolve. Only in still pictures and hindsight is there a moment in time; a silver bullet; an obvious way forward. The development of the mind--of a person, of a citizen, of understanding--is an HD, 3D movie. It lives. We must move educational reform from reactionary political platforms and special interests to creating equal access to excellence through research, shared responsibility, and collective action. Excellence and equitable access. Altruism. Mother and child. Mind and environment. Child and society. Schools and communities. Interdependent. Interdependence. Interdependency. Symbiosis.

CCS is on the right path. We must stay the course.

"While [examples from excellent, comprehensive educational systems in the highest performing countries] hold great promise, they call for patience. Reforming schools is a complex and slow process. To rush this process is to ruin it. The story of Finland's educational transformation makes this clear. Steps must be grounded in research and implemented in collaboration by academics, policy makers, principals, and teachers." 
(Sahlberg, P. 2010. Finish Lessons. Teachers College Press, New York. P. 3)