kitchen table math, the sequel: "Scandinavian Excellence": Tinted Glasses

Friday, March 28, 2008

"Scandinavian Excellence": Tinted Glasses

Liz posted here about Scandinavian excellence in schools. According to that article, "They found that educators in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark all cited autonomy, project-based learning, and nationwide broadband internet access as keys to their success.".

funny. The WSJ posted this article, "What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?" a month ago. They quote the same consortium. But that article didn't cite the sophisticated technology, the project based learning. It also didn't say anything about age 4-7.

It did have a quote from someone from COSN:
"Officials from the Education Department, the National Education Association and the American Association of School Librarians saw Finnish teachers with chalkboards instead of whiteboards, and lessons shown on overhead projectors instead of PowerPoint. Keith Krueger was less impressed by the technology than by the good teaching he saw. "You kind of wonder how could our country get to that?" says Mr. Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, an association of school technology officers that organized the trip."

Other choice excerpts:
"Visitors and teacher trainees can peek at how it's done from a viewing balcony perched over a classroom at the Norssi School in Jyväskylä, a city in central Finland. What they see is a relaxed, back-to-basics approach. The school, which is a model campus, has no sports teams, marching bands or prom."

For those wondering about the homogeneity of the student body,
"Despite the apparent simplicity of Finnish education, it would be tough to replicate in the U.S. With a largely homogeneous population, teachers have few students who don't speak Finnish. In the U.S., about 8% of students are learning English, according to the Education Department. There are fewer disparities in education and income levels among Finns. Finland separates students for the last three years of high school based on grades; 53% go to high school and the rest enter vocational school. (All 15-year-old students took the PISA test.) Finland has a high-school dropout rate of about 4% -- or 10% at vocational schools -- compared with roughly 25% in the U.S., according to their respective education departments"

Definitely looks like the article writers at least are writing what they want to echo. Who knows what the various groups took away.

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