They do what they do.
Thinking about schools and peers and parent-child attachments....I came across one of my favorite posts .
I don't think I can bring myself to read the article. Life is too short.
Oh don't worry, they just use Finland to argue that all private options (including universities) should be abolished in the name of equity. (I exaggerate slightly).
Come on Catherine, we're counting on you!What is the problem with that thesis? The first thing comes to my mind is that the Finns make education a very selective college program to get into, so the author has this backwards--the Finns value excellence in teachers more than equality. I was going to blog the Smithsonian piece on Finland, but never got around to it. I sometimes have the uneasy feeling that when Americans ooh and ah over education stuff in other countries, we aren't noticing that there are equivalents here. Like, when they say that in Finnish schools, kids get medical care, do they really mean doctor appointments, or do they mean just having a school nurse like we have in the US? There's never enough detail to judge. Also, I remember the Smithsonian article talks about the Finnish schools providing taxi rides for school kids who need it (which if you think about it, is not unlike our school buses). Just guessing here, but I bet a lot of countries that blow us out of the water in math don't provide free and reduced hot lunch.
It's OK. I read it. It says blah, blah, woof, woof.
*when they say that in Finnish schools, kids get medical care, do they really mean doctor appointments, or do they mean just having a school nurse like we have in the US?*Uhhh, some of you do. Our public schools have nurses 1 1/2 days of the week. Mostly they get their paperwork done and deal with big problems aka lice, ringworm etc. and then they're off to the next school.
"Uhhh, some of you do. Our public schools have nurses 1 1/2 days of the week. Mostly they get their paperwork done and deal with big problems aka lice, ringworm etc. and then they're off to the next school."Ah, but they didn't say that the Finnish schools have full-time medical personnel. It's all kind of hazy. When my daughter was in pre-K in DC, her public school had a half-time nurse. Interestingly, school policy was that only the nurse could administer medicine to children. I never asked how that policy applied to emergency inhalers for asthma, but I wondered.
Two points I hardly ever here in all the discussion about Finnish education:(1) Finnish is an unusually easy language to learn to read. If English were as easy as Finnish, our country's reading test scores would be much higher than they currently are.(2) The way math is taught in Finland is very similar to the way it is taught in the top-scoring Asian countries. I have used a curriculum written by a Finnish math teacher (Math Mammoth) and it is very similar to Singapore Primary Mathematics.
Sorry about the typo in the first sentence. I think that's my cue to get off the computer and start getting ready for bed!
Don't they also have dedicated math teachers at the elementary level?
you guys are cracking me up ----- !
Crimson Wife is absolutely right about Finnish being an easy language to learn to read (she says with great authority!)No, seriously, I recall reading that Finnish is a highly phonetic language in Dianne McGuinness's book, I believe.My sense is that countries with highly phonetic languages have **not** gone down the whole language path -- although that could be wrong. That's the way it looks to me, just skimming through various materials.It makes sense: when a language is obviously phonetic, you would have less chance of 'losing' the knowledge that written language is invented as a way to encode spoken language.
From the article:"Finland's schools owe their newfound fame primarily to one study: the PISA survey, ..."From the PISA site:"OECD/PISA mathematical literacy deals with the extent to which 15-year-olds can be regarded as informed, reflective citizens and intelligent consumers."Look at the sample questions at the PISA site. Lots of graphs. We're not talking STEM careers here. It's more like a typical NCLB state test. Doing well on this test is only an indicator of the basics.This is a typical defense of low US scores:"The majority of U.S. students, who are white, “actually rank near the very top on international tests.” But minority and low-income students face obstacles to such achievement because of differences in the quality of educational systems and household income."True enough, but which is it; quality educational systems or household income? If it's household income, what does that mean? Does it mean that those parents turn off the TV or that they do the school's job by teaching at home? For students at the top, do educators know exactly what goes on at home? Is it just making sure that they do homework? They really don't want to know the answer.Yesterday, I read a letter to a local newspaper where a doctor complained that what needs to be fixed first are the parents. This might be the case in some instances, but I've never seen anyone actually try to separate the parents variable from the school variable and relate them to the material on tests.I look at the actual questions on tests and the raw scores and I wonder what goes on at schools all day. If there are disruptions, then why don't they separate the willing and able from those who are not? If this can't be done, why are parents and kids not allowed to find their own solution? If a school system is not a quality educational system, why do they prevent parents from going somewhere else? In our area, educators are fighting tooth and nail against allowing urban parents from choosing to send their kids to Achievement First schools. The detractors talk about lack of educational oversight and how money will be diverted away from public schools. It doesn't matter that the amount of money per student continues to rise. Also, urban parents are apparently not smart enough to know whether school A or school B is a better choice.Back when I got into this 10 years ago, I never dreamed that the public discussion of the issues would stay at such a very low level of detail. I'll call it a corollary to the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect. I can't assume that other public discussions over policy (economic, health care, etc.) are at any higher level.
I read a letter to a local newspaper where a doctor complained that what needs to be fixed first are the parents. Yeah, well, somebody needed to fix Ed and me, that's for sure!Somebody needed to explain to us that we needed to move to the cheapest house in the cheapest town with the cheapest taxes and then HOMESCHOOL.
true confession: when I first got into all this, I really did not know that written language is a code for spoken language.I knew what phonics were, or at least I thought I did.I understood both Spanish and French well enough to read news articles (Spanish & French) and even novels (Spanish) in the languages.But I really, truly did not 'get' the fact that spoken language was primary, or that alphabets had come into existence to encode the sounds of spoken language.I used to go over to the Children of the Code website to read studies about reading instruction, and I would think, "Why do they call this site Children of the Code?"Mind you, I didn't dispute **any** of the findings on synthetic phonics. I must have had some kind of implicit knowledge that written language is, in fact, a code for spoken language. But I didn't understand what I knew.When it finally hit me - writing is a code for speaking - I was gobsmacked.I started telling people, The reason to "use" phonics when you teach reading is that phonics is what writing IS.IN CONCLUSION: I think a whole lot of knowledge has simply vanished from the earth.Things people used to know - like spelling is reading (almost) - have gone missing.
Don't they also have dedicated math teachers at the elementary level?Good question.I am a BIG believer in dedicated teachers for math as early as possible.I'm starting to be a believer in dedicated teachers for literature and writing, too -- I'm not sure about that, but .... writing is HARD, and understanding literature is not easy, either .... I dunno.I've asked Ed about the 'cumulative learning' issue in history (i.e., do 'gaps' in your history knowledge harm your ability to learn history).He says the answer is: Not really. You can take history courses out of sequence and learn what the professor is teaching you. Presumably, background knowledge in history is easier to acquire in a 'just-in-time' manner, as Barry calls it.That said, ANY form of 'just-in-time' learning is bad, I think, BECAUSE of the 10-year rule: all knowledge requires 10 years to be 'consolidated' inside the brain...Anyway, I think I've just talked myself out of the idea that we need specialized teachers in anything but math early on.I DO want specialized curricula!!!!
The first thing comes to my mind is that the Finns make education a very selective college program to get into, so the author has this backwards--the Finns value excellence in teachers more than equality.Fantastic point!Wish I'd thought of that.I basically looked at that tagline and just put up the white flag. Brain Blank.Fine.Equity over excellence.That's the answer.Have it your way, and WELCOME TO IT.
I ESPECIALLY APPRECIATE FALSE DICHOTOMIES.
Don't you just wish Americans would STOP IGNORING stuff?Come'on people.Get with the program.SEE the stuff Teachers College sees!
It's OK. I read it. It says blah, blah, woof, woof.I'm taking Steve's word for it.
I don't remember having school nurses when I was a kid.I don't remember school nurses inside individual schools in LA, either (but I have a memory of nurses who traveled from one school to the next).
"Back when I got into this 10 years ago, I never dreamed that the public discussion of the issues would stay at such a very low level of detail."I believe that the education beat is where a lot of beginning reporters start and then work their way up to "real news". So, if that is true, it explains the phenomenon we've experienced where every news article on innovation in schools is about how fantastic it is that this teacher is breaking up the rows of desks, doing hands-on activities, etc. Nobody's ever done that! Those articles are (if my theory is correct) often written by rookies who have no idea of the history of the subject (which they could discover for themselves if they read a few old education articles from their own papers). Of course, this doesn't explain why more seasoned reporters fall into the same trap...What can I say? Maybe it's just a very powerful meme. Our own Katharine Beals has done a number of good posts on this subject that I expect many of us have enjoyed. http://oilf.blogspot.com/2011/12/more-front-page-accolades-hands-on.htmlFrom the article she blogs, "High school feels different in the big white mansion at the edge of the Navy Yard - no desks in rows. No 47-minute class periods. No warnings to remove the hat, put the cellphone away, take the exam seriously. Instead, small groups of students are designing their own workshop space. They're drawing up more efficient bus routes for the Philadelphia School District. Their teachers act as mentors, sounding boards, not lecturers." Yeah, and Robin Williams is about to stand up on his desk. Yeesh.
In the late 1950s and into the 1960s we were worrying about the Soviets doing better in education than we were doing. Life magazine ran a 5-issue series in 1958 on how poorly American education was doing, both compared to the Soviets and compared to how well it *could* be doing. If you update the dates and prices and change Russia to China, you could reprint the series today.In the 1980s, the country we looked to educationally was Japan.Right now the country is China. Finland gets a small turn because we like the idea that test scores and learning can be a lot better without the amount of work that the Russians/Japanese/Chinese spend on academics.In a decade it will be some other country.The names change, but the story doesn't.-Mark Roulo
The Russians really were that good, especially in math and science.
As far as I can tell, the best-performing countries don't expect their kids to discover multiplication, reading or anything else on their own; teachers explicitly teach the material. From what I've read, China, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Finland, India and Russia all have far better math curricula than we do. However, I don't think the Russians gave capable kids a choice about being engineers etc, and perhaps the Chinese don't, either. I really don't want to go that far. I have a number of family members who had/have the ability but not the interest.
Empirically, race matters a lot in academic achievement, so let's compare Finns to Finnish-Americans.Googling "academic achievement finnish americans", one of the first links http://www.folkstreams.net/context,129 says this:"Two studies the third-generation Finnish Americans, the grandchildren of immigrants, show considerable educational achievement. One study of 194 third-generation Finnish Americans, born in Pelkie, is shown in the table below.National estimates based on the assumption (a good one) that those born between 1946-1955, reporting Finnish ancestry are members of the third generation, show that: 95 percent had graduated from high school, 67 percent had some college, and 33 percent were college graduates (Stoller and Forster 1992). Hence, the UP pattern of Finnish American educational achievement is similar to the national picture."A 95% high school graduation rate and 33% college graduation rate is pretty high. What are the comparable numbers for Finns in Finland born between 1946 and 1955?
I'm trying to get some more info on what math texts/curriculum is used in Finland. Crimson Wife refers to Mammoth Math, which may be written by someone from Finland but doesn't ensure that that's the method used now in Finland. I asked Richard Askey about this and he sent me this linkHe states: "This link gives part of the reason. Paul Andrews, a math educator in Cambridge, England, Homerton College which is the ed school of Univ. of Cambridge, led a study of middle school mathematics educationin England, Finland, Flanders, Hungary, and Spain. He told me themathematics teaching in Finland is incoherent. Flanders is much better."The link talks about what PISA measures as opposed to TIMSS. In 1999, Finland participated in TIMSS. The Finnish 8th graders did better than the US, but were 14th at 520 (top score was Singapore's 604; US' score was 502). See this link.
"I don't think the Russians gave capable kids a choice about being engineers etc"A real Russian can give a better answer than me on this, but my impression is that back in Soviet days, there were lots of college slots in technical fields and few in the humanities. So you could get one of those humanities slots if you were good enough. The issue was that it was a purely vocational system where majors were supposed to prepare you for particular professions and they thought they needed lots of engineers and fewer people qualified to teach humanities.One nice feature of the system was that science departments trained people to be both technicians or teachers. One of my close Russian friends studied in a physics department and had dual qualification to either work in a lab or teach physics in school. (I defer to any real Russians.)
"I don't think the Russians gave capable kids a choice about being engineers etc"There is also a difference between an engineer here and an engineer there (in USSR). All technical majors how had 5 years of education at the institutes or universities were given a degree of an engineer. Both my parents are engineers. I think that was the most common degree with the same salary for every one. In Soviet Union, the student at the University (Institute) was getting "speciality" from the first year. All classes one had to take were mandatory and no choices, electives were allowed. In fact, the schedules were made by the main office for the groups of people in a given major. So a 100 incoming freshman would be divided into 5 groups, each group had the seminars /labs in their own time, and lecture together. There was no wiggle room. And, once entering a major, you could not change it. Very few "general" subjects were given, mostly speciality. For instance, my mother is a chemical engineer -she had no Biology classes in University, or Literature, or art. I went to veterinary school because I loved animals (but also because there was no mathematics as the entrance exam or anywhere along the schooling years. Math beyond algebra was of no interest to me).Speaking of the slots for students - in centralized planning system schools were given the projected numbers of specialists needed in a given area. But humanities (philology?history?) were always easier to get into than into a technical major. Exo
Exo- hi!!!!So good to see you again!
A 95% high school graduation rate and 33% college graduation rate is pretty high. What are the comparable numbers for Finns in Finland born between 1946 and 1955?I'm thinking....presumably Finland, like most or all of Europe, adopted universal education just after the war...but would Finland have had enough colleges to then put 33% of h.s. graduates through college as well? (Obviously, I don't know when Finland adopted universal education.)One more thing: Finns who emigrate to the U.S. may well be genetically different from Finns who don't emigrate to the U.S.Specifically, they may have higher levels of dopamine receptor gene 4 - DRD4.I'd love to know whether people with higher levels of DRD4 have different levels of college graduation.
"Speaking of the slots for students - in centralized planning system schools were given the projected numbers of specialists needed in a given area. But humanities (philology?history?) were always easier to get into than into a technical major."Aha. On the other hand, my impression is that the Soviet-trained Russian literature school teachers that I've met were really smart people, probably even smarter than the rank-and-file Soviet engineer. (But think for a moment what exactly it requires to become qualified as a Russian lit teacher. That's a vast body of knowledge to master. If you didn't have an excellent memory, it would be suicidal to try to qualify as a Russian lit teacher.) When I taught in a school in Russia, one other thing that stood out from studying the schedules posted in the teachers' lounge was that beyond the early grade, they didn't teach "math" or "science." They'd have separate biology, separate chemistry, separate physics, separate algebra, separate geometry, and you wouldn't take year-long breaks from the subject (although obviously, you didn't have each subject every day--too many subjects). Exo?
"The majority of U.S. students, who are white, “actually rank near the very top on international tests.” Right.That's why my high-IQ, culturally advantaged, white rising-5th grade son placed into the end-of-semester 3rd grade textbook in Singapore Math.I think this comment has to go up front.
Hi there)I've been reading the threads but not writing for quite a while... My teaching load increased this terribly this year.Amy, I'll try to answer as comprehensibly as I can... The topic is hot for me - the strange logic of school system here is still strange, even after teaching HS for 6 years and following my son through the elementary school for 5.Momo4 was write - we were not expected to discover anything in school, we were taught explicitly. Which, I think, along with not having "electives" helped to keep the schooling at 10 years, and 9 months a year.In grades 1-4,the subject load for students was kept light - math, reading,and language every day, plus drawing, crafts and labors (such as using erecto constructors to teach motorics and use of tools (screwdrivers, washers etc), Nature Observations (science), Community and Society, Music (Choir) - once or twice a week. There were no more than 5 periods in a school day, with 5 minute breaks between the periods, and 20 minutes for snack in the middle of the day. One teacher taught all subjects. The same teacher who was your grade 1 teacher would be your teacher in grades 2 and 3. The teacher for early grades most likely was a graduate of a pedagogical junior college (3 years of study), which prepared teachers for early grades. In grade four, the subjects were taught by subject teachers. The "cabinet" system was introduced, meaning that the students had to go to different rooms for different subjects. Geography began (and continued twice a week until grade 7), History began with the history of the local area (History continued until grade 10, twice a week);Reading became Literature, and foreign language began twice a week(with classes broken in halves to create smaller sections). Oh, and in 2 grade Ukrainian language began (Every Republic and locality also taught their local language). Will be continued...Exo
Teachers in grades 4-10 were all "specialists" with University degrees. They knew their subjects first and foremost, and nobody heard of a Biology teacher teaching physical science there (unlike here).It is true, I have never heard of "science in general" as a subject. Every discipline was taught separately and coherently over several years. The logic was also seen in timing of introduction of topics in different disciplines - Algebra began in grade 6, along with Physics. Physics reinforced algebra with application of equations and formulas. Physics continued until grade 10 (I think, we finished on nuclear physics and quantum theory). In grade 7, Algebra continued, and new subject of Geometry started. Algebra and Geometry continued until grade 8.(3 or 4 times a week). Discrete Mathematics and Analysis with intro to higher math were given in grades 9 and 10.(Have to confess, there I lost my interest in math, and just followed the motions, which got me my only B in the transcript). I often complain that I have to teach General Biology to students who have no clue about chemistry; unfortunately, they have no clue about the living world around them either (how plants reproduce is a complete mystery).In Soviet school, the sequence of biology began with Botany in grade 5, Zoology in grades 6 and 7, and Human Biology in grade 8. General Biology was given in grades 9 and 10 (which made much more sense since the students were equipped with examples and understanding of living creatures. The subject was given twice a week. Since Chemistry began in grade 7 (Inorganic Chemistry in grades 7 and 8, and Organic Chemistry in grades 9 and 10), it probably made Bio teachers' life easier and saved time - they didn't have to explain the structure of the atom or difference between organic and inorganic compounds to General Bio students)And even in higher grades, the number of periods per day for students was kept at 6 (and some days, 5), so we were done bu 1:30pm... And had much more time for other activities. Also I think that not having the same subjects every day allows school not to become routine and gives some time to digest what was learned.Re: Broad knowledge of literature teachers. Universities (unlike Institutes) were preparing what was called "theorists" who could become academics or... teachers in institutes and schools (grades 4-10). So yes, they had much broader theoretical base that a graduate from an institute, who was "specialized" into a given profession. From another point, nothing prevented a graduate from an institute to continue into post-grad and go into research and join the academia. Hope that clarifies at least something. For myself, I still use Russian math textbooks with my son, and I used the Physics 6 and 7 textbooks to translate when I taught Physical Science for freshmen in my HS. Plus, when my I have to make recommendations to my Hon. Bio students in regards what to take next year, I say Chemistry and Physics - together.Exo
Sorry for typos, need "edit" button...Exo
we were not expected to discover anything in school, we were taught explicitly. Which, I think, along with not having "electives" helped to keep the schooling at 10 years, and 9 months a year.RIGHTI learned this year or last that a few states actually assert that students are entitled to an "efficient" education.At the time, I thought: now there's a potential loophole.
Under the Russian schedule as I knew it, the little kids have a very short school day. They have something similar in Germany where school runs roughly to lunch time (but then there's a fair amount of homework).Also, to amplify what Exo said, in the upper grades kids would have separate Russian lit AND separate Russian language (i.e. grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.).
Amy said: " to amplify what Exo said, in the upper grades kids would have separate Russian lit AND separate Russian language (i.e. grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.)"Yes. Even better - reading and writing were separate subjects in early grades as well. Language (Russian, Ukrainian) was taught as a "science", with rules and laws rules, that were increasing in difficulty with the grades. (In fact, History was also considered a "science", any discipline was a "science of..." That's why, perhaps, I was so confused here - "My child studies science", - What else can you study but the science?)Literature was first of all analysis of literature works; we read books or excerpts, and then read critical articles, and the wrote essays using the critiques and historical accounts etc - possibly the reason I could write my scientific research papers easy. Exo.
"(In fact, History was also considered a "science", any discipline was a "science of..." That's why, perhaps, I was so confused here - "My child studies science", - What else can you study but the science?)"Oxford's Russian dictionary defines "nauka" as science, knowledge, learning, study, scholarship, so it's a much broader word than "science" (which tends to mean just biology, chemistry and physics). Also, I think in English science is often contrasted with art. So we say stuff like "XYZ is an art rather than an exact science." (When my husband was a kid in Poland, he told his parents that he wanted to marry Nauka. I guess they broke up.)
Sorry--the Oxford definition of "nauka" did not include "knowledge," but I kind of think that it should be on the list.
Amy, I think you are correct, "nauka" is broader than "science", I can understand that now. Obviously, the direct translation of science had greater impact on confusion. Nauka was also often contrasted with art, (with ballet, opera, music, and drawing understood as art). Nauka - is something that can be taught and learned (words uch'oba, nauchit', uchenik - studies, to teach, student - have the same root), art comes when you have an inborn talent. Just a thought - if all disciplines were considered nauka - science, was it an implicit message that they could be taught and learned with no relation to the "talent"?Exo
Post a Comment