robertogreco + finland   201

How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’ - CityLab
““This progress from one of the poorest countries of Europe to one of the most prosperous has not been an accident. It’s based on this idea that when there are so few of us—only 5.5 million people—everyone has to live up to their full potential,” he said. “Our society is fundamentally dependent on people being able to trust the kindness of strangers.”

That conviction has helped support modern Finland’s emphasis on education and literacy—each Finn takes out more than 15 books a year from the library (10 more than the average American). But Nordic-style social services have not shielded the residents of Finland’s largest city from 21st-century anxieties about climate change, migrants, disruptive technology, and the other forces fueling right-leaning populist movements across Europe. Oodi, which was the product of a 10-year-long public consultation and design process, was conceived in part to resist these fears. “When people are afraid, they focus on short-term selfish solutions,” Laitio said. “They also start looking for scapegoats.”

The central library is built to serve as a kind of citizenship factory, a space for old and new residents to learn about the world, the city, and each other. It’s pointedly sited across from (and at the same level as) the Finnish Parliament House that it shares a public square with.”



“Inside and out, the facility is as handsome as Finnish Modernism fans might expect, and it has proved to be absurdly popular: About 10,000 patrons stop by every day, on average (it’s open until 10 p.m.), and Oodi just hit 3 million visitors this year—“a lot for a city of 650,000,” Laitio said. In its very first month, 420,000 Helsinki residents—almost two-thirds of the population—went to the library. Some may only have been skateboarders coming in to use the bathroom, but that’s fine: The library has a “commitment to openness and welcoming without judgement,” he said. “It’s probably the most diverse place in our city, in many ways.””

[via: https://kottke.org/19/11/helsinkis-has-a-library-to-learn-about-the-world-the-city-and-each-other ]

[See also:
https://www.archdaily.com/907675/oodi-helsinki-central-library-ala-architects?ad_medium=gallery ]
helsinki  finland  libraries  citizenship  books  architecture  reading  community  communityspaces  democracy  openness  diversity  2019  design  oodi  literacy  progress  history  civics  society  lcproject  openstudioproject  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  publicspaces  judgement  freedom  inclusion  inclusivity  purpose  fear  populism 
14 days ago by robertogreco
From Bureaucracy to Profession: Remaking the Educational Sector for the Twenty-First Century
"In this essay, Jal Mehta examines the challenges faced by American schooling and the reasons for persistent failure of American school reforms to achieve successful educational outcomes at scale. He concludes that many of the problems faced by American schools are artifacts of the bureaucratic form in which the education sector as a whole was cast: “We are trying to solve a problem that requires professional skill and expertise by using bureaucratic levers of requirements and regulations.” Building on research from a variety of fields and disciplines, Mehta advances a “sectoral” perspective on education reform, exploring how this shift in thinking could help education stakeholders produce quality practice across the nation."

[full article in .pdf: https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/33063300/Mehta_--_From_Bureaucracy_to_Profession_--_HER_2013.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y ]
jalmehta  us  schools  schooling  scale  bureaucracy  skill  edreform  education  publicschools  professions  policy  institutions  cynicism  johntaylorgatto  pisa  assessment  singapore  finland  korea  southkorea  canada  lindadarling-hammond  expertise  professionalization  teachers  teaching  howweteach  pedagogy  management  teachertraining  responsibility  standards 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
'It’s a miracle': Helsinki's radical solution to homelessness | Cities | The Guardian
"Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally"
homelessness  housing  finland  policy  2019  homeless 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Yong Zhao "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education" - YouTube
"Proponents of standardized testing and privatization in education have sought to prove their effectiveness in improving education with an abundance of evidence. These efforts, however, can have dangerous side effects, causing long-lasting damage to children, teachers, and schools. Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, will argue that education interventions are like medical products: They can have serious, sometimes detrimental, side effects while also providing cures. Using standardized testing and privatization as examples, Zhao, author of the internationally bestselling Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, will talk about his new book on why and how pursuing a narrow set of short-term outcomes causes irreparable harm in education."
yongzhao  2018  schools  schooling  pisa  education  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  china  us  history  testscores  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sideeffects  privatization  tims  math  reading  confidence  assessment  economics  depression  diversity  entrepreneurship  japan  creativity  korea  vietnam  homogenization  intolerance  prosperity  tolerance  filtering  sorting  humans  meritocracy  effort  inheritance  numeracy  literacy  achievementgap  kindergarten  nclb  rttt  policy  data  homogeneity  selectivity  charterschools  centralization  decentralization  local  control  inequity  curriculum  autonomy  learning  memorization  directinstruction  instruction  poverty  outcomes  tfa  teachforamerica  finland  singapore  miltonfriedman  vouchers  resilience  growthmindset  motivation  psychology  research  positivepsychology  caroldweck  intrinsicmotivation  choice  neoliberalism  high-stakestesting 
march 2019 by robertogreco
The Gay Love Stories of Moomin and the Queer Radicality of Tove Jansson | Autostraddle
"In 1955, Tove Jansson asked Tuulikki Pietilä to dance. They had sat all night around the gramophone together, guarding it whilst they played their records so that nobody could change the music. But Pietilä said no: same-sex relationships were still illegal in Finland — and would be until 1971 — and – the threat of judgement from peers and colleagues was intense. Queer people know well the hollow of panic, deep in the gut, when you think that your disguises may have failed. It is why, historically, we have avoided large displays of affection; why our histories take the form of private letters, fragments hidden inside books and diaries. The story of Tove and Tuulikki is no different; soon after she refused to dance, Tuulikki sent Tove a card with a cat, fat and striped, hand-drawn on the front. A code that meant: I am thinking of you. After telephone calls over the holidays, Tove finally set off to Tuulikki’s studio. It was March, and snowing, when she walked over; the streets were dark and the fat flakes fell in drifts that made the roads shine. When she got there, the studio warm and light like a ship’s cabin at sea, they drank wine and played French records.

Jansson’s queerness is often left out in stories of her life. Puffin editions of Moomin books talked about how she lived alone on her Finnish island; documentaries still talk of Pietilä as a lifelong friend. Jansson is no
 misnomer, rather, she fits in neatly with the trend of avoiding the personal lives of gay people
 – particularly lesbians – that exists to this day. Society dissolves queer realities: erases the two bodies sharing a bed, wrapped around each other, the two bodies fucking, the moments and hours and days, the holding hands and arguing and kissing and small talk. As seen throughout history, gayness is coded as dangerous for children. It is portrayed something purely sexual or purely chaste, rarely afforded the complexity and nuance afforded to heterosexual relationships. For Jansson to be a successful children’s writer she was portrayed as sexless, loveless. It’s particularly egregious when queerness informs the work of a writer to that extent that it did for Jansson. Not only do the themes of loneliness, family and love shape her work for adults and children, but she included characters based on her female lovers in many of her works.

Before meeting Pietilä, Jansson had been in a creative crisis. She knew the demand was high for another Moomin book, but dreaded the thought of repeating herself – she longed for new ground to tread, for the freedom of inspiration. As her fame had increased, so had her awareness that the Moomins were no longer hers alone; they now appeared on waste paper baskets and brooches and wrapping paper, and the public always wanted more. In 1955 she wrote of her conflicting feelings, saying, “I can’t recall exactly when I became hostile to my work, or how it happened and what I should do to recapture my natural pleasure in it.” The knowledge that she had to write another Moomin book loomed large in her mind. It was precisely Pietilä’s influence that helped overcome her writer’s block: “That I was able to write Moominland Midwinter was entirely due to Tooti,” Jansson stated to biographer Boel Westin in Tove Jansson: Life, Art Words. Out of their love letters the character of Too-tikky had been formed, first as an inky doodle of her lover’s likeness (‘My Tootikki!’, she nicknamed Pietilä), and then slowly as a fleshed-out form.

Moominland Midwinter was a radical departure from the sun-drenched summers of the Moomin valley that readers had seen before — sailing boats framed by orange-slice suns, picnics on the terrace, dances in the woods. Instead, Moomin wakes up from hibernation in the cold dark of a Finnish winter, pine trees blanketed with snow. He is disoriented and scared, eager to wake up his mother for comfort. However, when she turns away from him in her sleep he realises he must deal with this new world — and his yearning for spring — on his own. There to help him is Too-tikky, as no-nonsense as her flesh and blood counterpart, who describes to him the dancing colours of the Northern Lights, states “One has to discover everything for oneself.” Moomin realises that the winter is needed, for after it follows the spring, lush and bright and alive. It’s hard not to read this as a mirror of Jansson and Pietilä’s relationship, blooming out of the snow and cold — in Moominland Midwinter, our narrator states “There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in.” The winter gives us as queer people the chance to show ourselves, to claim the world as ours.

This wasn’t the first lover she had included in her stories: Vivica Bandler, the married theatre director with whom Jansson had an affair in 1946, became the character of Bob. Bob’s counterpart, Thingumy, was Tove, who wrote to Bandler, “No one understands their language, but that doesn’t matter so long as they themselves know what it’s all about… Do you love me? Of dourse you coo! Sanks and the thame to you!” This exchange ended up almost entirely complete in Jansson’s next Moomin book, Finn Family Moomintroll, where Thingumy and Bob are introduced as intertwined, inextricable creatures, their names better known in conjunction than when on their own. They even look the same, only differentiated by the hat Bob wears. By placing them, idiosyncratic and unmissable, at the centre of the story, Jansson was able to make a public declaration of love in a private manner. Her passion – her willingness to depict their relationship for anybody who could decipher the code – led Bandler to warn her to be secretive. Not only was their love illegal, but it was classed as a psychiatric condition, and its reveal would have cost both women their livelihoods and families.

Queerness is Jansson’s works is never as simplistic as direct representation of lovers. It’s something that seeped into the pages, flowing along the lines in the illustrations. In a letter to Bandler, Jansson talks of how “everything has changed since I met you! Every tone is more vivid, every colour cleaner, all my perceptions are sharper.” Already so occupied with “pure, fresh colours” – fleshy greens and cornflower blues and sherbet yellows – Jansson’s passion for Bandler allowed her to utilise them further in her work, encouraging her to use them with a giddy joy on the front cover of Finn Family Moomintroll. Her renewed passion for colour around this time is also prominent in the murals she painted in Helsinki Town Hall, into which she painted Bandler, a tiny Moomintroll and herself; fan in one hand, cigarette in the other, turning her blue eyes away from the viewer’s gaze.

Throughout Finn Family Moomintroll there is a presence, cold and dark and flat, sucking the light from the sun, wilting the flowers. The Groke is the closest the Moomin books get to an antagonist, although even she is treated with sympathy. She is grey as a storm cloud, and wherever she goes the plants and creatures die. She is the antithesis of Thingumy and Bob’s happiness, the embodiment of loneliness to their companionship. It is they who get to keep suitcase of rubies in the end of the story, a treasure many long for but one whose dazzling contents are only available to those who have ‘the right’ to own it — their love makes them the only ones suitable for the honour. It’s tempting to read the Groke as an allegory for the bigotry of a society that seeks to separate lovers, and for the misery that follows. In typical Tove fashion, however, the Groke is not a figure of hatred or derision, but one of pity.

It is Too-Ticky who, in Moominland Midwinter, encourages us to empathise with the Groke — to consider how desperately lonely a life untouched by love must be. This is not to say that Jansson did not face the isolation that is inherent in the lives of most queer people — although she remained with Pietilä for the rest of her life, and although they shared connected apartments and their island cottage, she could never discuss her love with her family. Jansson was open with her friends, telling them that she the “happiest and most genuine solution for me will be to go over to the spook side;” a wonderfully matter-of-fact way of resolving her own conflicts over her sexuality. But both her father and her mother were unable to discuss it with her — Jansson describes how her father tried to speak with her after he had heard gossip, but ultimately, he could not say the “difficult word homosexual.” Jansson suspected that her mother knew, but never raised the subject, writing “I can accept this […] But it feels lonely.”

Only after her parents had died did Jansson write Fair Play, a collection of short stories that fictionalised her relationship with Pietilä. The characters in the book, Jonna and Mari, live as Jansson and Pietilä do – in adjoining apartments with connecting studios. They are – respectively – an artist, and an illustrator and writer. The stories are quiet: Jonna and Mari watch westerns together, try to protect their fishing nets from a storm, bicker over the way paintings hang on the wall. They travel to America, as their real-life counterparts did, and sleep in a tent when a guest stays in their island cottage. But it’s everyday-ness is precisely what makes it so calmly radical. It is a portrait of a lifelong lesbian couple, allowing us to see into their daily lives, the minutiae of how they live, and on display at the centre of everything is their love for one another. In her introduction Ali Smith brilliantly summarises it as “affectionate discretion […] a good-working love, a homage to the kind of coupledom that rarely receives such homage.” No longer forced to be… [more]
tovejansson  tuulikkipietilä  2018  moomins  sexuality  writing  hannahilliams  queerness  relationships  creativity  finland  love  boelwestin  1955  1946  vivicabandler  language  groke  empathy  literature  howwerite  homosexuality  alismith  affection  discretion 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Educator: In Finland, I realized how 'mean-spirited’ the U.S. education system really is - The Washington Post
"The public school system is free to all, for as long as they live. Compulsory education extends from age 6 to 16. After that, students can choose schools, tracks and interests. Students can track academically or vocationally, change their minds midstream, or meld the two together. Remember the goal: competency.

Though students are required to go to school only until age 16, those who leave before secondary school are considered dropouts. Programs designed to entice these youngsters — typically those who struggle academically for a variety of reasons — back into education address the national 5 percent dropout rate. We visited one of these classrooms where teachers rotated three weeks of instruction with three weeks of internships in area businesses.

We toured a secondary school with both a technical and academic wing. The teachers were experimenting with melding the two programs. In the technical wing, we visited a classroom where adults were receiving training to make a career switch. Free.

The fact that students can fail and return, or work and return, or retire and return had a palpable effect on the mood and the tone of the buildings. Surprisingly, considering their achievements, Finnish students spend less time in the classroom, have more breaks throughout the day, and benefit from receiving medical, dental, psychiatric care and healthful meals while in school. It was ... nice.

In comparison, the United States public school system (an idea we invented, by the way) seems decidedly mean-spirited.

Our students enter at around age 5 and have some 13 years to attain a high school diploma. Failure to earn a diploma is a dead end for most. In the United States, when students fail at school — or leave due to many other factors, sometimes just as resistant teenagers — we are done with you. Sure, there are outliers who are successful through luck, sweat, connections or all three, but for most, the lack of a diploma is a serious obstacle toward advancement.

Without a high school diploma, educational aspirations can be severely truncated. Students need a high school diploma to attend community colleges and many technical schools which provide access to advanced skills that impact the living standard.

With or without the needed diploma, any additional education is at the student’s expense in time or money — a further blow to financial standing.

The 13-year window of opportunity does not factor in the developmental level of students at the time of entry. Any educator knows that children do not arrive with the same readiness to learn.

There are many other differences. Unlike the Finnish competency system, ours is based on meeting a prescribed set of standards by passing tests of discrete knowledge. Our students face a gauntlet of tests, even though any standards can be woefully outdated by the time a graduate enters a quickly evolving job market. The Finns take matriculation tests (there is choice in these as well) at the end of secondary but all interviewed said the scores did not have much bearing on what students could do next.""
finland  schools  us  education  policy  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  competition  competitiveness  marytedro  valeriestrauss  politics  economics  assessment  testing  standardizedtesting  competency  vocational  schooling  2018  readiness  standardization  standards  work  labor  opportunity  dropouts  care  caring 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Four seasons in the life of a Finnish island
"Nestled amongst hundreds of stunning shots of the aurora borealis taken by Finnish photographer Jani Ylinampa is a series of four photos of Kotisaari, showing the island from a drone’s point of view for each of the four seasons (clockwise from upper left): spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

But seriously, go check out Ylinampa’s Instagram account…it’s packed with aurora borealis photos. What a magical place to live, where the sky lights up like that all the time."
finland  photography  seasons  classideas  cycles  change  janiylinampa 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Finnish Teachers Opt for Less Structured Start of School Year - The Atlantic
"Honestly, I doubted whether I would ever survive at a Finnish school, given the high-performing kids and the well-trained teachers, but my confidence lifted when I recalled one area of preparation I had received in the U.S.: how to begin the school year. When I packed my luggage for our move to Helsinki in 2013, I made sure to bring my trusty college textbook, The First Days of School.

“Your success during the school year,” wrote Harry and Rosemary Wong in this classic American teaching guide, “will be determined by what you do on the first days of school.” In my copy of the book, I had written an enthusiastic “true!” in the margins and circled this sentence in pencil. “You must have everything ready and organized when school begins,” advised the authors.

Like many American teachers I had known, I had taken this philosophy to heart—to such an extent that I had been in the habit of crafting detailed, minute-by-minute lesson plans for the first few days of school since my first year of teaching in Massachusetts. These plans were mostly centered on teaching my elementary-school students important procedures and routines, such as those for fetching paper and visiting the restroom. So, in an effort to make “everything ready and organized” for that big, first day of school in Finland, I did what I had always done as a teacher in America: I spent summer days filling my planner and arranging my classroom.

But in Finland, when that first week of school arrived, I noticed something odd. Many of my Finnish colleagues hadn’t visited their classrooms all summer long. The day before school began, I met one young teacher who admitted she was still deciding what to do that week. I was a little shocked. To my American eyes, my highly trained Finnish colleagues didn’t look particularly ready or organized for the first days of school. They seemed naively laid-back. Meanwhile, I felt incredibly stressed, as I strived to teach the textbook-perfect way.

During one of my tightly scripted lessons that week, I told my Helsinki fifth-graders we would practice the routine of walking in a quiet, straight line—and, immediately, I heard groans. Apparently, my Finnish students had been navigating the hallways on their own since they were first-graders, and my plan irked them. Embarrassed, I ditched this task and quickly moved on to another activity. I had entered that school year thinking that, as long as I controlled the clock and the physical environment, everything would turn out fine in my classroom. But my Finnish colleagues and students challenged this notion. They seemed to prefer to keep things a little loose at the beginning of the year. To understand this philosophy better, I recently spoke with a handful of Finnish teachers, all of whom had never been taught the “right” way to begin a school year.

“I think it's important to have a ‘soft start’ in order to let the school routines and procedures gently grow into the kids,” said Johanna Hopia, a classroom teacher at Martti Ahtisaari Elementary School in Kuopio, Finland. In Hopia’s classroom, the first days are usually spent discussing summer vacation, playing games, and exercising together. During this time, she neither hands out textbooks nor assigns homework. Jere Linnanen, a history teacher at Helsinki’s Maunula Comprehensive School, prefers that his students have “an organic process” of returning to school. “I want to start the school with as little stress as possible,” Linnanen said, “both for myself and my students.” This August, he and his colleagues took four groups of ninth-graders to a nearby park, where they chatted, danced improvisationally, and played Pokémon Go. Linnanen described the first couple of school days as ryhmäyttäminen, which literally translates as “grouping” but means something similar to the English term “team-building.”

At my Helsinki public school, I found a similar policy, where teachers and students started with a half-day and a regular class schedule didn’t start until the following week. Even at the high-school level in Finland, it’s “very common” for students not to have regular classes on their first day back, according to Taru Pohtola, a foreign-language teacher at Vantaa’s Martinlaakso High School. At Pohtola’s school, freshmen get an extra day to settle into the new school environment. “We want them to feel more at home at their new school before the real work begins,” she said.

Many of the Finnish educators I spoke with recognized that classroom structure, which typically stems from establishing rules, routines, and procedures, is valuable, but they emphasized the importance of fostering a welcoming, low-stress learning environment first. A similar sentiment is found in Finland’s newest curriculum framework for basic education: “Learning is supported by a peaceful and friendly working atmosphere and a calm, peaceful mood.”

According to Paul Tough, an Atlantic contributor and the author of the new book Helping Children Succeed, establishing a school environment—“where [students] feel a sense of belonging, independence, and growth”—helps children to develop key noncognitive abilities, such as resilience, perseverance, and self-control. Tough calls this a “different paradigm,” but one that more accurately represents what happens in today’s successful classrooms: “Teachers create a certain climate, students behave differently in response to that climate, and those new behaviors lead to success.” One of the most compelling findings of researchers, according to Tough, “is that for most children, the environmental factors that matter most have less to do with the buildings they live in than with the relationships they experience—the way the adults in their lives interact with them, especially in times of stress.”

During my first days of teaching in Finland, I led my fifth-graders to one of our school’s gymnasiums for structured, group games during their only recess blocks. I had picked the activities; they followed my rules. But this routine quickly grew boring, mostly because I ran out of fun games to introduce. Thankfully, one of my Finnish students suggested that we play “Kick the Can,” as it was something that my class had played with their fourth-grade teacher. I agreed, and the little blond boy returned with an empty plastic soda bottle.

For the next few weeks of school, I played Kick the Can with my Helsinki fifth-graders, at least once every day. Actually, it was the only group game they wanted to play with me. Moreover, they wanted me to be “it” every time, which meant that I’d count to 20, they’d hide, and I’d try to find them. Every time I’d spot my fifth-graders and call out their names, we’d link arms, creating an amoeba-like force. If I caught every one of my students, I’d win, but alas, that never happened because a sneaky fifth-grader would inevitably kick over the soda bottle (with a triumphant shout), freeing all of my prisoners.

Through our wild rounds of Kick the Can, I saw that the most valuable thing I could do during those early days of school was relax—like my laid-back Finnish colleagues—and simply enjoy relationships with my students."
finland  sfsh  schools  education  pedagogy  howwetech  teaching  control  planning  student-led  looseness  cv  2016  timwalker 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Negative Effects of American Teachers' Time With Students - The Atlantic
"On average, American educators spend more hours with students than their international counterparts—and that may not be a good thing."
teaching  us  policy  education  burnout  timothyalker  2016  finland  schedules  teachingload  time 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Almost all education research takes place in the US -- but another country is using it better | Business Insider
"Year after year, Finland is ranked as one of the world leaders in education while America lags far behind.

But it’s not that Finland knows more about how to build effective schools than the US does.

Almost all education research takes place in the US, and American schools can’t seem to learn from any of it — and yet Finnish people do.

“My estimate is that about 80% of all significant intellectual work regarding education is done here, in the United States,” says Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish education expert and the author of “Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?”.

According to Sahlberg, the most influential figure behind Finland’s achievements in education is the American philosopher John Dewey, who is known for his seminal theories on education and psychology. “Many Finnish schools have adopted Dewey’s view of education for democracy by enhancing students’ access to decision-making regarding their own lives and studying in school,” Sahlberg wrote for the Washington Post in 2014.

Sahlberg studied Dewey when he was a graduate student in Finland in the 1980s, and many universities continue to rely on Dewey’s writing and the work of other American academics today.

Over time, the ideas have helped shape the Finnish education system as one that prizes autonomy, peer learning, collaboration, and varied forms of assessment. These were all ideas developed at one time or another by American theorists, yet modern American classrooms — noted for their heavy reliance on tests and teacher-guided lectures — bear little resemblance to those up north.

Consider the Finnish program known as Me & MyCity, a set of projects designed to get kids thinking like entrepreneurs. Through role-playing they learn financial literacy and gain an understanding of how public and private funding works.

More than 70% of Finnish 6th-graders participate in Me & MyCity, often to great success. Research presented at the Association of European Economics Education conference in August showed kids “clearly” gained economic knowledge from the program, while 75% said they had a greater interest in economics, reports Tim Walker for the Atlantic.

Me & MyCity took its early cues from BizTown, an American program started by the organisation Junior Achievement, that had a similar mission of making kids financially savvy. While BizTown has seen similar improvements, no state has made it a curriculum requirement for schools to teach the program.

Sahlberg says America’s inability to make that leap — from pilot programs to widespread implementation — stems from a key difference in how America and Finland treat educational policy.

“Many of these good ideas actually stop in the school boards, who may have completely different intentions for how to run the schools in their own districts,” Sahlberg says. “Overall, education in the United States is much more political than it is in Finland, where it’s much more of a professional issue.”

Finland implements policies based on their observed effectiveness. It looks at outcomes and weighs the costs against the benefits. And unlike America’s education system, Finland essentially has just one school board, the federal Ministry of Education and Culture, which has near total oversight in which new policies schools will adopt.

“I cannot find any other reason why these great ideas that have been researched and clearly found to be effective in helping young people to learn are not more widely implemented,” Sahlberg says.

He goes on to criticise the argument that America somehow struggles to implement forward-thinking policies because of its size. Finland is small, but its population of 5.4 million is still greater than most US states. While the federal government may struggle to pass creative policies, Sahlberg believes states should be able to pick up the slack in the aggregate.

“If anybody says that the United States as a whole cannot take anything from smaller places like Finland or others,” he says, “then people should remember that America has 15,000 local systems that all have enough autonomy to do these things if they want to.”"
education  us  policy  politics  research  2016  chrisweller  finland  implementation  johndewey  sfsh  schools  learning 
october 2016 by robertogreco
Norway considers giving mountain to Finland as 100th birthday present | World news | The Guardian
"Norwegian government considers shifting border to gift its Nordic neighbour a peak that would become its highest point"
borders  finland  border  norway  geopolitics  2016  gifts  birthdays 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Learning Despite School — LifeLearn — Medium
"While organised education and deliberate, goal-oriented practice has its place, and is indeed critical, it needs to be balanced with the development of social competence and intrinsic motivation. The vast majority of learning happens in informal social situations within communities of like minded people, where individuals take initiative and learn to work with other people in meaningful settings. Schools may hinder this important avenue of growth and increase stress and anxiety.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu.

The role of informal learning

The importance of informal learning in all areas of life cannot be overstated. For anyone observing people going about their life, it is obvious that every waking moment (and indeed, also sleeping moments) presents experiences which shape our brains, and thus, learning happens. Historically, informal learning has been off the spotlights since it is more difficult to study than organised forms of education. However, during the 21st century, surveys have shown that the majority of learning happens in informal settings[1], and even governmental policies have changed to encourage informal learning[4].

Learning within workplaces can be divided into non-formal and informal learning. If these terms are unfamiliar, here are short definitions:

• Formal education is highly institutionalised, bureaucratic, curriculum driven, and formally recognised with grades, diplomas, or certificates.[1]

• Non-formal learning is organised learning outside of the formal education system.[1]

• Informal learning occurs in community, where individuals have opportunities to observe and participate in social activities.[2]

The clear majority of learning within workplaces is informal[3], even though companies spend huge resources on non-formal training of their employees.

Likewise it can be argued that a large portion of learning that happens in schools stems from informal activities, such as social interactions during recess. The magnitude of this informal learning clearly depends on how strictly pupils and their time use are controlled by the faculty. Most resources in educational systems are spent in the advancement of formal education.

How Finnish schools enable informal learning

Finnish primary schools consistently rank high in various international studies, and produce excellent educational outcomes. While there are several reasons behind the success of Finnish schools, one of their typical features is the large amount of free time pupils are given.

• For every 45 minutes of class time, 15 minutes of recess are provided. Recess is free undirected time, usually spent outdoors.

• 30–45 minutes are reserved each day for lunch, provided by the school.

• Children enter school the year they turn 7, giving them more years of free childhood than in most other educational systems.

• School days are short, starting with 4–5 hours in the lower grades, and growing to 6–8 in higher grades.

• The amount of homework is light, usually between 0–4 hours per week.

• Classroom time often includes group work, project work, and personalised learning activities.

All this generates lots of time in children’s lives where they can independently (or with partial guidance) decide what to do, explore their surroundings, and experience new things. All of this is informal learning and it can cultivate skills such as independence, critical thinking, accountability, social competence, self-efficacy, metacognition, time management, planning, and emotional intelligence.

Balancing academic, social and physical development

Finnish studies on pupils’ hobbies and free time use show that the constructive and positive spirit in classrooms increases as pupils spend more of their free time with each other; as their classmates become closer friends, motivation to attend classes increases; and continuing into higher education is more likely. Results also highlight the importance of non-programmed time, where teens are not supposed to do anything or achieve something. Exploration and experimentation are important. Creative crossing of boundaries of accepted behaviour is also important for the teens’ ethical development.[5] Social competence even as early as age 5 has been shown to be connected with adult life quality and productivity[8].

The effects of physical exercise to cognitive capacity and ability to focus are clear and are changing even workplace practices (e.g. walking meetings). Studies of Finnish students have shown that physical exercise has a positive effect on learning and cognitive functions, such as memory and executive functions, and can possibly affect academic achievement[6].

On the other hand, it is clear that to develop top talent in any field (including sports), young people need a balance of training, competition, and free play and exploration. Focusing too early on serious practice activities that are not enjoyable will damage intrinsic motivation[7].

In countries where schools control their pupils more strictly, opportunities for informal learning are diminished. Children then tend to focus their interests and motivation on their hobbies that happen after school. In some countries, children spend nearly all their waking hours on formal learning tasks, which may produce good academic outcomes, but limits severely the benefits that informal learning could provide. Finnish schools show that an approach that emphasises children’s natural tendencies for exploration and learning, can also provide excellent academic results.

Summary

A clear majority of learning for any individual happens in informal settings. While formal education and on-the-job training play a role, they will be more effective if they can acknowledge and accommodate informal learning that individuals will engage in regardless. In practice this means at least giving time for non-directed social activities, reflection, and physical activities. In addition, utilising learners’ own life interests in making formal training more engaging and relevant will increase learning outcomes significantly. Combining formal and informal is at the core of learner-centric approaches."
education  unschooling  deschooling  learning  informal  informallearning  schools  social  training  finland  play  competition  freeplay  howwlearn  howweteach  teaching  hobbies  constructivism  experimentation  2016  schedules  time  independence  timemanagement  planning  criticalthinking  accountability  metacognition  laotzu  tarmotoikkanen  competence  motivation  stress  anxiety 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Kaarina Kaikkonen
[via: https://twitter.com/womensart1/status/757455083969908736 ]

"Kaarina Kaikkonen studied at the Academy of Fine Arts between 1978 and 1983. She has become one of the leading artists of Finnish art thanks to her work in sculpture and installations.
Alongside the monumental features of her works – always strongly imbued with the environmental and architectural elements surrounding them – there is also a core linked to the impermanence and frailty of materials somewhat pointing back to the frailty of human beings.

The movement of “coming and going” from something is a recurrent formal element in the artist’s work – as we can also see in the works' titles – thus contributing to create a time bridge between past memories and their tension towards the future.

—Director, Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy."



[from: http://kaarinakaikkonen.com/videos/

"[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_uM-cc_P4E ]

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[video: https://vimeo.com/15599877 ]

Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen creates site-specific installations in both interior and exterior spaces using items of used clothing or shoes collected from local donors. The garments carry personal memories of the owner, and with them, she makes large-scale architectural forms or sculptures. While the materials she uses represent a common experience of domestic life, they also often allude to the artists' own parents - her deceased father's jackets as well as her mother's shoes.

In a new project, she collects second hand clothing from individuals of all ages around the Liverpool area, and installs them in FACT's public Atrium. The work reflects on the maternal act of doing the laundry, which can be understood as a basic symbol of healing, care, and unconditional love.

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[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHF2monXyPQ ]

Kaarina Kaikkonen uses a thousand dress shirts donated by people from the DC area to construct a large-scale, site-specific hanging installation that takes the shape of a boat. On display February 19-March 17, during the "Nordic Cool 2013 Festival" at The Kennedy Center.

------

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xDM9B_AoEI ]

The Blue Route is a new installation by leading Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen commissioned with Brighton Festival for spring 2013. This short film forms part of the gallery interpretation and details Kaarina's work and her approach to this exhibition. Fabrica co-director also gives some context to the commissioning of this piece. The film was made by Ben Harding and Tom Thistlewaite and produced by Laurence Hill.

------

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ce7GVK2qEo ]

Kaarina Kaikkonen discusses her work and her process in this artist talk which took place at Fabrica, 24 April 2013. Fabrica worked with Kaikkonen in collaboration with Brighton Festival to bring two major new site-specific works to Brighton and Hove, one piece for the gallery (The Blue Route) and the other at an outdoor location in the city (Time Passing By). This co-commission by Fabrica and Brighton Festival is part of Out of the Blue, a collaborative project involving six organisations in Brighton & Hove and Amiens (France), funded by the Interreg IVa Channel programme of cross-border collaboration."
kaarinakaikkonen  art  artists  fabric  clothing  finland 
july 2016 by robertogreco
We’d be better at math if the U.S. borrowed these four ideas for training teachers from Finland, Japan and China
"1. Raise selectivity standards for future educators. The report notes that this looks differently across the four systems. While Finland maintains very high admissions standards for entry to teacher preparation programs, Japan instead has the checkpoint at the end of training programs, requiring teachers to sit for a tough licensure exam.

2. Require that elementary school teachers specialize in content areas. Most primary school teachers in the U.S. teach all subjects. In many top countries, teacher candidates specialize in either math and science or language and social studies.

3. Focus on content knowledge. Trainee teachers in these countries study the content they will actually be teaching, say fourth grade fractions, not advanced college math. The idea is to give them a deep understanding not just of the content but also how students learn it.

4. Create structured professional learning communities. Many top countries embrace career ladders where master teachers formally train teachers in their first few years in the classroom."
math  mathematics  education  teaching  japan  finland  howweteach  emmanuelfenton 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The American Dream Is Alive in Finland - The Atlantic
"If the U.S. presidential campaign has made one thing clear, it’s this: The United States is not Finland. Nor is it Norway. This might seem self-evident. But America’s Americanness has had to be reaffirmed ever since Bernie Sanders suggested that Americans could learn something from Nordic countries about reducing income inequality, providing people with universal health care, and guaranteeing them paid family and medical leave.

“I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president … of Sweden,” Marco Rubio scoffed. “We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States of America.”

“We are not Denmark,” Hillary Clinton clarified. “We are the United States of America. … [W]hen I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.”

Opportunity. Freedom. Independence. These words are bound up with American identity and the American Dream. The problem is that they’re often repeated like an incantation, with little reflection on the extent to which they still ring true in America, and are still exceptionally American.

Anu Partanen’s new book, The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life, argues that the freedom and opportunity Americans cherish are currently thriving more in Nordic countries than in the United States. (The Nordic countries comprise Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland.) But she also pushes back—albeit gently—against the trendy notion that Nordic countries are paradises.

Partanen is an unusual messenger. After all, her personal story is a testament to the Land of Opportunity’s enduring magnetism and vibrancy; she recently became a U.S. citizen, after moving from her native Finland to the United States in part because she felt she was more likely to find work as a journalist in New York City than her American husband was as a writer in Helsinki. But her time in America has also convinced her that Finland and its neighbors are doing a better job of promoting a 21st-century version of the American Dream than her adoptive country.

Partanen’s principal question is the following: What’s the best way for a modern society to advance freedom and opportunity? She explains that Nordic governments do so by providing social services that the U.S. government doesn’t—things like free college education and heavily subsidized child care. Within that big question, Partanen poses more pointed questions about contemporary life in the United States: Is “freedom” remaining in a job you hate because you don’t want to lose the health insurance that comes with it? Is “independence” putting your career on hold, and relying on your partner’s income, so you can take care of a young child when your employer doesn’t offer paid parental leave or day care is too expensive? Is “opportunity” depending on the resources of your parents, or a bundle of loans, to get a university degree? Is realizing the American Dream supposed to be so stressful?

“What Finland and its neighbors do is actually walk the walk of opportunity that America now only talks,” Partanen writes. “It’s a fact: A citizen of Finland, Norway, or Denmark is today much more likely to rise above his or her parents’ socioeconomic status than is a citizen of the United States.” The United States is not Finland. And, in one sense, that’s bad news for America. Numerous studies have shown that there is far greater upward social mobility in Nordic countries than in the United States, partly because of the high level of income inequality in the U.S.

In another sense, though, it’s perfectly fine to not be Finland. As Nathan Heller observed in The New Yorker, the modern Nordic welfare state is meant to “minimize the causes of inequality” and be “more climbing web than safety net.” Yet the system, especially in Sweden, is currently being tested by increased immigration and rising income inequality. And it’s ultimately predicated on a different—and not necessarily superior—definition of freedom than that which prevails in America. “In Sweden,” Heller argued, “control comes through protection against risk. Americans think the opposite: control means taking personal responsibility for risk and, in some cases, social status.”

Last week, I spoke with Partanen about what she feels Nordic countries have gotten right, where they’ve gone wrong, and why, if Finland is really so great, she’s now living in America. An edited and condensed transcript of our conversation follows.

Uri Friedman: You make an argument in the book that if you think about the American Dream in a certain way—if you define it in terms of opportunity, independence, and freedom—it is actually flourishing in the Nordic region more than in the United States. Why?

Anu Partanen: For a long time now, we’ve all, both in the United States and in Europe, thought that the United States is the land of freedom. For a long time, it was certainly true: American democracy was leading the way, the American middle class was the wealthiest. America was really the place where you could make your own life and you could decide who you wanted to be and pursue the dream.

When I moved to the United States in 2008, that was the idea I had. [But] when I came here, I was actually surprised [to learn that] people were very anxious. They were in many ways very dependent on their circumstances, the opposite of being a self-made woman or man. And a lot of this is related to family: if, [when] you were a child, your parents could provide opportunities, if they could offer you a life in a good neighborhood, offer you a life in a good school.

…"
culture  economics  europe  finland  us  policy  norway  denmark  sweden  iceland  freedom  independence  opportunity  denamrk  anupartanen  urifriedman  democracy  socialism  inequality  middleclass  income  incomeinequality  immigration  taxes  daycare  healthcare  health  qualityoflife  government  society  nathanheller  politics 
july 2016 by robertogreco
7 Things Nordic Countries Are Totally Doing Right, According To 'The Nordic Theory Of Everything' | Bustle
"1. Balancing Federal Budgets …

2. Curbing Income Inequality …

3. Bringing Equity To Education …

4. Closing The Gender Gap …

5. Supporting Families …

6. Aiming For True Work-Life Balance …

7. Insuring Everyone …"
nordiccountries  scandinavia  policy  socialism  equality  us  inequality  education  gender  women  families  paternityleave  work-lifebalance  well-being  health  healthcare  universalhealthcare  finland  sweden  norway  iceland  denmark  2016  government  qualityoflife  anupartanen  middleclass 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The “parenting happiness gap” is real, new research confirms — Quartz
"It’s an almost immutable fact: Regardless of what country you live in, and what stage of life you might be at, having kids makes you significantly less happy compared to people who don’t have kids. It’s called the parenting happiness gap.

New research to be published in the American Journal of Sociology shows that American parents are especially miserable on this front, posting the largest gap (13%) in a group of 22 developed countries.

But the research also shows that it doesn’t have to be this way. Every other country had smaller gaps, and some, including Russia, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Hungary, and Portugal, actually showed happiness gains for parents.

The researchers, led by Jennifer Glass at the University of Texas, looked at what impact policies such as paid sick and vacation leave and subsidized child care have on closing that gap. It was 100%.

“As social scientists we rarely completely explain anything, but in this case we completely explain the parental happiness gap,” said Glass. In countries with the strongest family-friendly policy packages, “the parental deficit in happiness was completely eliminated, accomplished by raising parent’s happiness rather than lowering nonparents’ happiness,” the authors wrote.

It’s not just one policy, like paid parental leave, that makes the difference. It’s the magic of a package of policies spanning over a lifetime, that allow people to care for children, support them financially, and even enjoy them every once in awhile on a holiday.

The study looked at 22 European and English-speaking countries using surveys from prior to the recession, including the International Social Surveys of 2007 and 2008 and the European Social Surveys of 2006 and 2008. The group created a a three-item policy index including combined paid leave available to mothers, paid vacation and sick leave, and work flexibility, and then looked at the effect of the basket of policies, as well as the impact of each individual one, on closing the happiness gap.

They found that in countries high on the comprehensive policy index, there was no gap, or, parents were even happier than non-parents. Countries low on that index were less happy.

All policies are not created equal. Paid sick and vacation leave and subsidized child care showed the largest impact on improving the happiness of non-parents as well as parents, Glass said. This is important, because policies that spend tax money to help parents at the expense of non-parents tend to be less popular.

Studies like this present some obvious challenges. For one, people in the US are actually a weirdly happy lot overall. On a scale from 1-10, they log in around the 8-10 range. People in France rate their happiness in the middle of the scale, from 5-7. “We aren’t sure if this means the French are truly less happy than Americans, or just don’t think it is appropriate to use the extremes of any scale,” Glass wrote.

To allow for these cultural differences, the research focused on the differences between parents and non-parents in the same country. They asked: “What factors are associated with parents being less happy than nonparents, given their country’s overall average level of happiness?” The key is association (or correlation), and not causation, which is impossible to prove in studies like this.

It’s no big surprise that parents in Sweden, with its dreamy parental leave policies, are happier (compared to their non-parent peers) than parents in the US, where there is no paid leave for anything—having a baby, much less raising it. But the research helps point to which policies could help most.

Glass says it’s not that parents are unhappy. They often find parenting fulfilling, and wouldn’t have it any other way. But their stress levels tend to be high, which can overshadow any happiness to be gained from shepherding another human being through life.

And why should we even care about whether parents are happy? “Parental happiness does in fact determine our fertility rates, it does determine the types of bills we get for stress-related diseases,” Glass said. “When you have a system that is not very efficient in supporting parents, you can expect to have problems motivating people to have children and care for them.”

Conversely, she said, “People want to have more children when you make it possible for them to be effective parents and effective workers.”"

[See also: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/06/us-has-largest-parental-happiness-gap.html ]
parenting  us  happiness  policy  culture  government  kids  sweden  denmark  france  finland  russia  spain  españa  hungary  portugal  norway  jennifer  glass  paidleave  maternityleave  parentalleave  paternityleave  sociology  europe  vacation  childcare  society 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Sesat School: On parents’ involvement in education
"My friend Martin Varsavsky posted on Facebook about Michael Moore’s upcoming new film “Where to Invade Next“, which features the Finnish education system (the clip is embedded below).

Martin commented:

“What nobody addresses when speaking about the Finnish education miracle is that maybe the secret is not so much what is happening at school but the level of parental attention and education these kids are getting at home.”

Below is my response:

"Martin, you nailed the issue. I have looked into the parent involvement question a little bit as part of running Sesat School in California, and found some surprising results. Also, my father is a Professor at the Department of Education at the University of Helsinki, which probably colors my thinking.

What I found is that Finns (surprisingly, perhaps!) do not emphasize parental involvement in children’s schooling very much. Instead (not so surprisingly, and in direct contrast with the U.S.), they care a lot about involvement in the sense of children being trusted with responsibility to make decisions that genuinely impact their own lives.

Data correlates this approach with results. In 2012 the OECD (Education Working Paper 73) compared parental involvement in 14 PISA countries. Finland wasn’t part of the sample, but the findings are informative: the three kinds of parental involvement highlighted by the OECD as most effective are (1) reading books to young children (2) discussing complex issues with children (3) parents reading to themselves for enjoyment.

In contrast, the American conversation on parental involvement has focused on (1) parents attending school functions and responding to school obligations (parent-teacher conferences, for example); (2) parents helping children improve their
schoolwork; (3) parents monitoring homework and actively tutoring their children at home. These are the top three modes of parent involvement highlighted in a paper by Cotton & Reed Wikelund, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

When I compared this with the Finnish literature, I was surprised how little had been written in Finland about parents’ involvement in schooling (in the U.S. sense). Instead, Finns have been very concerned about children’s involvement in decision-making. When you search Google in Finnish for “parents’ involvement”, Google suggests results about “children’s involvement”! The Finns pay particular attention to kids’ involvement in decisions related to their own education, as well as decisions that impact their lives more broadly (urban planning, for instance).

To give you an example, here’s what Finland’s Ministry of Education wrote in 2011:

“It is recommended that student bodies be made obligatory on all levels of education, and that their objectives and responsibilities be enacted into law. Moreover, special methods [of involving very young children in decision-making] must be developed for kindergartens and preschools.”

This paper was co-signed by the Minister of Education and his deputy of Youth Affairs.

Perhaps instead of encroaching more on their kids’ lives in and out of school, U.S. parents should redefine “involvement” as courage to let their kids start making more of their important life decisions earlier, so they grow up learning that it’s perfectly normal and OK to expect to have real responsibility for one’s actions.

Food for thought :)""
jyriengestrom  finland  parenting  2016  us  education  sfsh  michaelmoore  reding  responsibility  learning  children  childhood  trust  decisionmaking 
june 2016 by robertogreco
This is why Finland has the best schools
"The Harvard education professor Howard Gardner once advised Americans, "Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States."

Following his recommendation, I enrolled my seven-year-old son in a primary school in Joensuu. Finland, which is about as far east as you can go in the European Union before you hit the guard towers of the Russian border.

OK, I wasn't just blindly following Gardner - I had a position as a lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland for a semester. But the point is that, for five months, my wife, my son and I experienced a stunningly stress-free, and stunningly good, school system. Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent No. 1 global rankings, including most literate nation.

In Finland, children don't receive formal academic training until the age of seven. Until then, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation. Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest. School hours are short and homework is generally light.

Unlike in the United States, where many schools are slashing recess, schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day. Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning. According to one Finnish maxim, "There is no bad weather. Only inadequate clothing."

One evening, I asked my son what he did for gym that day. "They sent us into the woods with a map and compass and we had to find our way out," he said.

Finland doesn't waste time or money on low-quality mass standardised testing. Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality "personalised learning device" ever created - flesh-and-blood teachers.

In class, children are allowed to have fun, giggle and daydream from time to time. Finns put into practice the cultural mantras I heard over and over: "Let children be children," "The work of a child is to play," and "Children learn best through play."

The emotional climate of the typical classroom is warm, safe, respectful and highly supportive. There are no scripted lessons and no quasi-martial requirements to walk in straight lines or sit up straight. As one Chinese student-teacher studying in Finland marvelled to me, "In Chinese schools, you feel like you're in the military. Here, you feel like you're part of a really nice family." She is trying to figure out how she can stay in Finland permanently.

In Finland teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors, in part because they are required to have a master's degree in education with specialisation in research and classroom practice.

"Our mission as adults is to protect our children from politicians," one Finnish childhood education professor told me. "We also have an ethical and moral responsibility to tell businesspeople to stay out of our building." In fact, any Finnish citizen is free to visit any school whenever they like, but her message was clear: Educators are the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats, and not technology vendors.

Finland delivers on a national public scale highly qualified, highly respected and highly professionalised teachers who conduct personalised one-on-one instruction; manageable class sizes; a rich, developmentally correct curriculum; regular physical activity; little or no low-quality standardised tests and the toxic stress and wasted time and energy that accompanies them; daily assessments by teachers; and a classroom atmosphere of safety, collaboration, warmth and respect for children as cherished individuals.

One day last November, when the first snow came to my part of Finland, I heard a commotion outside my university faculty office window, which is close to the teacher training school's outdoor play area. I walked over to investigate.

The field was filled with children savouring the first taste of winter amid the pine trees.

"Do you hear that?" asked the recess monitor, a special education teacher wearing a yellow safety smock.

"That," she said proudly, "is the voice of happiness.""
finland  education  schools  williamdoyle  health  children  teaching  learning  homework  play  outdoors  via:anne 
april 2016 by robertogreco
The Finnish Model | City Journal
"Career politicians have become incredibly boring. This helps to explain the appearance of rebel parties in every Western democracy. These new splinter groups include the Ciudadanos in Spain, the National Front in France, the Tea Party in the United States, and the Independentists in Catalonia and Scotland. Voters have grown tired of accepting the same old tunes, whistled from both Left and Right. Constantly recycled policies and programs offer no solutions to difficult, long-term, and often intergenerational problems, such as unemployment among the unqualified youth, or the excessive dependence of certain groups on the welfare state. The same goes for the debate over immigration. One side demonizes globalization; the other decries nationalism.

New ideas are far from lacking, however. Economists and sociologists in universities, laboratories, and foundations provide a steady stream of fresh approaches to these problems. But politicians don’t seem to read much these days, preferring the advice of a closed circle of marketing consultants and dried-up slogan manufacturers. This makes Finland’s move toward instituting a universal basic income (UBI)—often referred to by economists as a negative income tax—all the more refreshing. The negative income tax is often associated with the free-market economist Milton Friedman, who defended it with passion and flair in the 1970s.

This year, the Finnish government hopes to begin granting every adult citizen a monthly allowance of €800 (roughly $900). Whether rich or poor, each citizen will be free to use the money as he or she sees fit. The idea is that people are responsible for their actions. If someone decides to spend their €800 on vodka, that is their decision, and has nothing to do with the government. In return for the UBI, however, the public accepts the elimination of most welfare services. Currently, the Finnish government offers a variety of income-based assistance programs for everything from housing to children’s education to property insulation. Axing these programs should free up enough public resources to finance the UBI. The bureaucracy that currently governs welfare payments will disappear. There will no longer be any need to ask for government help, nor to fill out forms or wait for the competent authorities to examine each dossier to determine eligibility.

The introduction of a UBI should loosen the hold of public bureaucracy over Finnish citizens and reverse a century of top-down socialization in Finnish society. In practice, each citizen will automatically receive his monthly allowance and declare it as part of his taxable income. The poorest citizens—who do not pay income tax—will keep their entire allowance, while high-earners will repay a relative portion of their allowance in tax. As always, the devil will be in the details. It’s still not known whether this allowance will replace every welfare program, or if some—such as those that aid the physically and developmentally disabled—will be maintained.

Remarkably, every major Finnish political party has signed on. The Left is cheered by the socialistic idea of government-assistance-for-all. The Right looks forward to the unprecedented drop in bureaucratic control over citizens, an unheard-of extension of freedom of choice, and an unconditional restitution of part of citizens’ taxes.

The Finnish government is expecting the negative income tax to have a beneficial effect on employment and growth. Regardless of age, the underqualified will be more willing to accept poorly paid jobs, knowing they will continue to receive their UBI. By the same token, employers will be more willing to hire and fire, as the UBI will act as a social damper. As national wealth figures always depend on the number of citizens in the labor market, Finland is hoping for a clear growth spurt. The allowance may also limit the influx of migrants if the government decides to grant the UBI only to citizens and legal residents.

This project is so simple and apolitical that it’s natural to ask why it has never been tried before. The answer is quite simple. The political and bureaucratic classes fear innovation, and even more so the loss of their direct influence over society. Shrinking the welfare state will scale back politicians’ ability to buy votes. If the Finnish experiment works, all of Europe will follow suit. Something similar happened in the early 1980s, when American monetarism imposed itself and stemmed inflation, and the British privatization trend became globalized. Perhaps in the future we will refer to a “Finnish model” that makes ordinary politics more interesting, governments less heavy-handed, and citizens more responsible."
universalbasicincome  finland  2016  economics  welfare  ubi 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Scandi Crush Saga - Curbed
"Scandinavia’s focus on the home and family, assertions of democratic principles, and emphasis on traditional craftsmanship fit in well with consumerist ideals of the postwar period. Gordon, a staunch critic of the radical direction American modernism was taking, published a series of articles lashing out against the International Style—another name for the modernist architecture and design that emerged out of Europe in the 30s—which she referred to as "totalitarian," and those responsible for it as "dictators in matters of taste." Such sentiment played on Cold War era politics of the period."



"Today, Scandinavian design is once again riding a wave of success that many say stems from a wider fascination with Nordic countries. Kjetil Fallan, professor of design history at the University of Oslo, attributes the present popularity to the greater visibility of the Nordic lands during the period after the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

"When a lot of large stable economies like the U.S. were having major problems, they discovered small Nordic countries were hardly affected by it at all," said Fallan, barring Iceland, of course. He cites a renewed interest in what is commonly referred to as the Nordic model in governance and society, which is typically categorized by a strong welfare state and an emphasis on individual autonomy. Just in the past year, Sweden’s flirtation with six-hour workdays and Finland’s planned experiment with universal basic income have grabbed headlines, further piquing the world’s curiosity. Such publicity may have had trickledown effects on the design field. "There is a tendency," Fallan says, "to equate Scandinavian design as a reflection of Scandinavian society."

Nordic arts and culture, too, have become increasingly popular abroad. "I think it started with a mix of different furniture, interiors, food, music, and film," says Poul Madsen, co-founder of Normann Copenhagen, a Danish interior design brand. "Danes were announced as the happiest people in [the] world a couple of years ago and even Oprah was talking about it," he added. "Suddenly, everything we did in Scandinavia really echoed." Indeed, increased media coverage, the popularity of Danish TV in the UK, and Copenhagen’s cache of Michelin-starred eateries, like world favorite Noma, have been rolled into what Madsen describes as "one big mass of Nordic living."

Even 2009—a shaky year for consumerism in the West—was a success for the firm. Normann Copenhagen’s New Danish Modern furniture series designed and produced within Denmark included Jesper K. Thomsen’s molded beech wood Camping set, which was awarded the Good Design award by the Chicago Athaeneum later that year.

Since then, business has been booming. The company, which sells to 82 countries, has seen export markets up 45 to 50 percent per year for the past two years, although Madsen admits that their pieces are still most successful within Denmark."
design  furniture  architecture  history  materials  scandinavia  sweden  denmark  finland  norway  iceland  nordic  arnejacobsen  eeroarnio  alvaalto  pouladsen  normanncopenhagen  jesperthompsen  kristianbyrge  muuto  peterbonnén  kjetilfallan  nadialassen  olewanscher  hansbretton-meyer  iittala  kajfranck  artek  oliviaöberg  tappiowirkkala  mariannegoebl 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Delaying kindergarten until age 7 offers key benefits to kids — study - The Washington Post
"A new study finds strong evidence that delaying kindergarten by a year provides mental health benefits to children, allowing them to better self-regulate their attention and hyperactivity levels when they do start school.

The study, titled “The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health” and published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that these benefits — which are obviously important to student achievement — persist at least until age 11. Stanford Graduate School of Education Prof. Thomas Dee, who co-authored the study with Hans Henrik Sievertsen of the Danish National Center for Social Research, was quoted in a Stanford release as saying:
“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73 percent for an average child at age 11 and it virtually eliminated the probability that an average child at that age would have an ‘abnormal,’ or higher-than-normal rating for the inattentive-hyperactive behavioral measure.”

The researchers used data on tens of thousands of students from a mental-health screening survey used to evaluate children across Denmark (and in clinical and academic settings in other countries) and compared it Denmark’s census, according to the Stanford release. Youngsters who were deemed to have better self-control over attention and activity had higher assessment scores.

In Denmark, children generally enroll in kindergarten during the calendar year in which they turn 6. In the United States, too, kindergartners are typically 5 or 6 years. The researchers wrote in the study that they found “that a one-year delay in the start of school dramatically reduces inattention/hyperactivity at age 7 …. a measure of self regulation with strong negative links to student achievement.” They also found this this “large and targeted effect persists at age 11″ and affects both boys and girls.

There is a loud debate in the United States and other developed countries about the proper age to start formal schooling — with ever-younger students being put into school with formal academic work. Many early childhood experts have expressed concern about forcing very young children to sit and do academic work, arguing that kids learn best through structured play. Dee noted:
“It’s not just a question of when do you start kindergarten, but what do you do in those kindergarten classes? If you make kindergarten the new first grade, then parents may sensibly decide to delay entry. If kindergarten is not the new first grade, then parents may not delay children’s entries as much.”

Indeed, a study released early this year found that the requirement in the Common Core State Standards that kindergartners read could harm the reading development of some kids. It says:
When children have educational experiences that are not geared to their developmental level or in tune with their learning needs and cultures, it can cause them great harm, including feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and confusion.

In Finland and some other developed countries, formal academic education doesn’t start until the age of 7, when children are deemed to be mentally and physically ready for the challenge (though students in Finland have had access to high-quality preschool, which would affect their performance in kindergarten).

Many U.S. parents hold their children back a year — especially boys — so that they start kindergarten at age 6 rather than 5 to give them a chance to mature. The paper says that about 20 percent of kindergarten students are now 6 years old:
This “lengthening of childhood” reflects in part changes in state laws that moved forward the cutoff birth date at which 5 year olds were eligible for entering kindergarten (Deming and Dynarski, 2008). However, most of the increase in school starting ages is due to academic “redshirting”; an increasingly common decision by parents to seek developmental advantages for their children by delaying their school entry (i.e., the “gift of time”).

There have been early studies looking at the same or similar issue, and the results have been mixed. But Dee was quoted as saying:

“This is some of the most convincing evidence we’ve seen to support what parents and policymakers have already been doing – choosing to delay kindergarten entry.”

You can read the paper here [https://cepa.stanford.edu/content/gift-time-school-starting-age-and-mental-health ]."
kindergarten  education  children  redshirting  2015  unschooling  deschooling  finland  schools  hyperactivity  inattention  attention  selfregulation  denmark  mentalhealth  thomasdee  hanshenriksievertsen  behavior 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley’s Basic Income Bromance — Backchannel — Medium
"A cult of bros, brahmins and braintrusters is pushing the idea of a government-distributed living wage"



"Among the grassroots braintrust, Santens is elite.

His fascination with basic income started in his late 30s, with a Reddit thread about how quickly tech-induced unemployment was coming. He read about basic income as a possible solution, and was hooked. “When I came across this idea and read more and more into it, I’m like wow, this is something that can totally change the world for the better.” In the fall of 2013 he abandoned his career as a freelance web developer to become the movement’s most omnipresent advocate. “People passionate about basic income don’t have a very loud voice,” he says.

In person, Santens doesn’t have one either; he’s polite and thoughtful, a reed-like 6-foot-2. His microphone is Medium and The Huffington Post, the Basic Income subreddit he moderates, and his Twitter account, from which he tweets anything in the day’s news that can be summoned into a case for basic income. Santens also created a Twibbon to superimpose #basicincome on one’s Twitter or Facebook profile pic. Such is the newness of this movement in the United States that the guy who does all this wins a profile in The Atlantic, and gets invited to talk on a Brookings Institution panel.

The technologist crowd says a basic income will become a moral imperative as robots replace workers and unemployment skyrockets. Conservatives say it would replace the kraken of welfare bureaucracy, with its arbitrary income cutoffs and overlapping programs. Optimists say humanity will no longer have to work for survival, freeing us to instead work for self-actualization. (You know, start businesses. Go to school. Do unpaid care, volunteer, and parenting work that doesn’t add a cent to the GDP.) Progressives say it would level the playing field: the working classes could have a taste of the stability that’s become an upper-middle class luxury, and would have bargaining power with low-paid work.

It’s a compelling idea having an international moment: Finland’s government announced first steps toward a basic income pilot project in 2017. Details aren’t finalized, but early plans call for giving 800 to 1,000 euros a month to a large test group for two years instead of any other social benefits. (Tally it up to another socialist program from a Northern European country if you will, but Finland is trying to solve eerily familiar U.S. problems: a growing class of freelancers who were neither eligible for employment benefits nor unemployment, and Finns in the poverty trap: taking a temporary job decreases your welfare benefits.) Several Dutch cities aim to introduce similar programs next year, and the idea of a universal basic income has gotten some consideration and endorsements in Canada, where it was tried for five years in the 1970s in Manitoba.

In the United States, it only makes sense that Silicon Valley would be the natural habitat for basic income bros, brahmins, and braintrusts. The Bay Area is home to a fertile mix of early adopters, earnest change-the-worlders, the Singularity crowd, cryptocurrency hackers, progressives and libertarians — all of whom have their reasons for supporting a universal basic income. “Some of my friends [in favor] are hardcore libertarian types, and others will be left-wing even by San Francisco standards,” says Steven Grimm, an early Facebook engineer who now writes code for a cash transfer platform used by charities, the most direct way he could think of to apply his skills to advance basic income. If we’re name-dropping: Zipcar CEO Robin Chase, Singularity University’s Peter Diamandis, Jeremy Howard, Kathryn Myronuk, and Neil Jacobstein, and Y Combinator’s Sam Altman, Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich, Tesla principal engineer Gerald Huff, author Martin Ford, Samasource CEO Leila Janah, and Silicon Valley optimist-in-chief Marc Andreessen all support it.

So of course, while Scott Santens isn’t from here, he needs to come kiss the ring."



"Back in San Francisco at the end of his trip, Santens was mostly killing time before a 2:00 am redeye (to avoid the hotel bill, of course). We leave Patreon and head out to Market Street, and Santens snaps a photo of the Twitter headquarters plopped in the middle of the city’s tech-gentrified skid row, where the city’s polarized classes come into sharp relief.

It’s a boulevard of all the ills Santens believes basic income will solve: the shuffling homeless people — they could get cash in one fell swoop instead of extracting it from a byzantine welfare system. Lining the sidewalk are drug dealers; they could do something else, and their customers — not having to self-medicate their desperation — might dry up, too. We pass the Crazy Horse strip club. No one would have to dance or do sex work out of poverty, leaving it to the true aficionados. The high-interest payday loan shop would lose its raison d’etre.

The thought experiment of basic income serves as a Rorschach test of one’s beliefs about human nature: some people instantly worry that human enterprise would be reduced to playing PlayStation; others point to the studies of cash transfers that show people increase their working hours and production. One cash transfer program in North Carolina revealed long-term beneficial effects on Cherokee children whose parents received some $6,000 a year from a distribution of casino profits. (The kids were more likely to graduate high school on time, less likely to have psychiatric or alcohol abuse problems in adulthood.) No one debates that $1,000 a month, the amount usually discussed as a basic income in the U.S., would only be enough to cover the basics — and in expensive cities like San Francisco, not even that. Anyone wanting to live with greater creature comforts would still have the carrot of paid work.

Santens is, unsurprisingly, of the optimist group. He tells me about his baby boomer dad who moved into The Villages, the luxury retirement community in Florida (“basically Walt Disney World for senior citizens”). He says it’s a great case study in that people stay busy even when they don’t have to work: the seniors join kayak and billiards clubs, paint watercolors, and go to Zumba. “People do all sorts of things.” His dad is partial to golf.

Before he goes, I ask what he would do if he truly got a basic income, one that was not dependent on advocating basic income. “I’d do more screen-writing,” he says. “I’m a sci-fi writer at heart.”
You might be a basic income bro if, if and when basic income comes, you finally can do something else."
laurensmiley  siliconvalley  universalbasicincome  libertarianism  economics  2015  policy  government  miltonfriedman  richardnixon  edwardsnowden  martinlutherkingjr  scottsantens  arjunbanker  robinchase  peterdiamandis  jeremyhoward  kathrynmyronuk  neiljacobstein  samaltman  robertreich  geraldhuff  martinford  leilajanah  marcandreessen  rosebroome  jimpugh  finland  erikbrynjolfsson  federicopistono  singularityuniversity  automation  future  robots  bullshitjobs  efficiency  publicassistance  mlk  ubi 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Kindergarten Has Become the New First Grade - The Atlantic
"Pendulum shifts in education are as old as our republic. Steven Mintz, a historian who has written about the evolution of American childhood, describes an oscillation in the national zeitgeist between the notion of a “protected” childhood and that of a “prepared” one. Starting in the early 2000s, though, a confluence of forces began pushing preferences ever further in the direction of preparation: the increasing numbers of dual-career families scrambling to arrange child care; a new scientific focus on the cognitive potential of the early years; and concerns about growing ability gaps between well-off and disadvantaged children, which in turn fueled the trend of standards-based testing in public schools.

Preschool is a relatively recent addition to the American educational system. With a few notable exceptions, the government had a limited role in early education until the 1960s, when the federal Head Start program was founded. Before mothers entered the full-time workforce in large numbers, private preschools were likewise uncommon, and mainly served as a safe social space for children to learn to get along with others.

In the past few decades, however, we have seen a major transfer of child care and early learning from home to institution: Nearly three-quarters of American 4-year-olds are now in some kind of nonfamily care. That category spans a dizzying mix of privately and publicly funded preschool environments, including family-run day cares, private preschools in church basements, and Head Start programs in public elementary schools, to name a few. Across all of them, the distinction between early education and “official” school seems to be eroding.

When I survey parents of preschoolers, they tend to be on board with many of these changes, either because they fear that the old-fashioned pleasures of unhurried learning have no place in today’s hypercompetitive world or because they simply can’t find, or afford, a better option. The stress is palpable: Pick the “wrong” preschool or ease up on the phonics drills at home, and your child might not go to college. She might not be employable. She might not even be allowed to start first grade!

Media attention to the cognitive potential of early childhood has a way of exacerbating such worries, but the actual academic consensus on the components of high-quality early education tells another story. According to experts such as the Yale professor Edward Zigler, a leader in child-development and early-education policy for half a century, the best preschool programs share several features: They provide ample opportunities for young children to use and hear complex, interactive language; their curriculum supports a wide range of school-readiness goals that include social and emotional skills and active learning; they encourage meaningful family involvement; and they have knowledgeable and well-qualified teachers.

As an early-childhood educator, I’ve clocked many hours in many preschool classrooms, and I have found that I can pretty quickly take the temperature from the looks on kids’ faces, the ratio of table space to open areas, and the amount of conversation going on in either. In a high-quality program, adults are building relationships with the children and paying close attention to their thought processes and, by extension, their communication. They’re finding ways to make the children think out loud.

The real focus in the preschool years should be not just on vocabulary and reading, but on talking and listening. We forget how vital spontaneous, unstructured conversation is to young children’s understanding. By talking with adults, and one another, they pick up information. They learn how things work. They solve puzzles that trouble them. Sometimes, to be fair, what children take away from a conversation is wrong. They might conclude, as my young son did, that pigs produce ham, just as chickens produce eggs and cows produce milk. But these understandings are worked over, refined, and adapted—as when a brutal older sibling explains a ham sandwich’s grisly origins.

Teachers play a crucial role in supporting this type of learning. A 2011 study in the journal Child Development found that preschool teachers’ use of sophisticated vocabulary in informal classroom settings predicted their students’ reading comprehension and word knowledge in fourth grade. Unfortunately, much of the conversation in today’s preschool classrooms is one-directional and simplistic, as teachers steer students through a highly structured schedule, herding them from one activity to another and signaling approval with a quick “good job!”

Consider the difference between a teacher’s use of a closed statement versus an open-ended question. Imagine that a teacher approaches a child drawing a picture and exclaims, “Oh, what a pretty house!” If the child is not actually drawing a house, she might feel exposed, and even if she is drawing a house, the teacher’s remark shuts down further discussion: She has labeled the thing and said she likes it. What more is there to add? A much more helpful approach would be to say, “Tell me about your drawing,” inviting the child to be reflective. It’s never possible to anticipate everything a small person needs to learn, so open-ended inquiry can reveal what is known and unknown. Such a small pedagogic difference can be an important catalyst for a basic, but unbounded, cognitive habit—the act of thinking out loud.

Conversation is gold. It’s the most efficient early-learning system we have. And it’s far more valuable than most of the reading-skills curricula we have been implementing: One meta-analysis of 13 early-childhood literacy programs “failed to find any evidence of effects on language or print-based outcomes.” Take a moment to digest that devastating conclusion.

I was recently asked to review a popular preschool curriculum that comes with a big box of thematic units, including lists of words and “key concepts” that children are supposed to master. One objective of the curriculum’s ocean unit, for example, is to help preschoolers understand “the importance of the ocean to the environment.” Children are given a list of specific terms to learn, including exoskeleton, scallop shell, blubber, and tube feet. At first glance, this stuff seems fun and educational, but doesn’t this extremely narrow articulation of “key concepts” feel a little off? What’s so special about blubber, anyway? Might a young child not want to ponder bigger questions: What is water? Where do the blue and green come from? Could anything be more beautiful and more terrifying than an ocean?

The shift from an active and exploratory early-childhood pedagogy to a more scripted and instruction-based model does not involve a simple trade-off between play and work, or between joy and achievement. On the contrary, the preoccupation with accountability has led to a set of measures that favor shallow mimicry and recall behaviors, such as learning vocabulary lists and recognizing shapes and colors (something that a dog can do, by the way, but that is in fact an extraordinarily low bar for most curious 4-year-olds), while devaluing complex, integrative, and syncretic learning.

Last year, I observed some preschoolers conversing about whether snakes have bones. They argued at length among themselves, comparing the flexible serpentine body with dinosaur fossils and fish, both of which they had previously explored. There was no clear consensus on how these various creatures could contain the same hard skeletons, but I watched, transfixed, as each child added to the groundwork another had laid. The teacher gently guided the group as a captain might steer a large ship, with the tiniest nudge of the wheel. Finally, a little boy who had seen a snake skeleton in a museum became animated as he pantomimed the structure of a snake’s spine in a series of karate chops: “One bone, one bone, one bone,” he informed his friends. “I think we’re all going to have to do a lot more research,” the teacher replied, impressed. This loosely Socratic method is a perfect fit for young minds; the problem is that it doesn’t conform easily to a school-readiness checklist.

The academic takeover of American early learning can be understood as a shift from what I would call an “ideas-based curriculum” to a “naming-and-labeling-based curriculum.” Not coincidentally, the latter can be delivered without substantially improving our teaching force. Inexperienced or poorly supported teachers are directed to rely heavily on scripted lesson plans for a reason: We can point to a defined objective, and tell ourselves that at least kids are getting something this way.

But that something—while relatively cheap to provide—is awfully thin gruel. One major study of 700 preschool classrooms in 11 states found that only 15 percent showed evidence of effective interactions between teacher and child. Fifteen percent.

We neglect vital teacher-child interactions at our peril. Although the infusion of academics into preschool has been justified as a way to close the achievement gap between poor and well-off children, Robert Pianta, one of the country’s leading child-policy experts, cautions that there is “no evidence whatsoever” that our early-learning system is suited to that task. He estimates that the average preschool program “narrows the achievement gap by perhaps only 5 percent,” compared with the 30 to 50 percent that studies suggest would be possible with higher-quality programs. Contrasting the dismal results of Tennessee’s preschool system with the more promising results in places such as Boston, which promotes active, child-centered learning (and, spends more than twice the national average on preschool), lends further credence to the idea that preschool quality really does matter.

It’s become almost a cliché to look to Finland’s educational system for inspiration. As has … [more]
education  pedagogy  learning  literacy  listening  preschool  kindergarten  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  finland  erikachristakis  2015  schools  edreform  conversation  vocabulary  cv  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  directinstruction  schoolreadiness 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Finland plans to pay everyone in the country $876 a month
"Imagine this: as you're worried about how to pay bills and make your rent, you get a check from the government for $876. Every month.

That's what Finland is doing. The Nordic nation is getting closer this month to finalizing a solution to poverty: paying each of its 5.4 million people $876 tax-free a month — and in return, it will do away with welfare benefits, unemployment lines, and the other bureaucracy of its extensive social safety net.

The concept, called basic income, has been a popular source of debate among academics and economists for decades, though Finland would be the first nation in the European Union — and the first major nation anywhere — to actually implement the idea on a universal basis. The basic income was popularized by the economist Milton Friedman in the 1960s as a "negative income tax."

The Finnish proposal, which is still being drafted by the country's social welfare institution, Kela, would reportedly give each Finn 550 euros a month to start.

As a result, Finland would scrap nearly all of its other benefits programs. In Finland, as in the U.S., people get welfare benefits according to their incomes.

In contrast, the universal basic income would go to every citizen regardless of how much money he or she makes — rich or poor. the universal basic income would go to every citizen regardless of how much money he or she makes — rich or poor.

In Finland, the push for a basic income comes as the country's economy is struggling. About 10% of Finland's population is unemployed as Finland tries to claw its way out of a three-year recession.

The most recent economic forecast from Finland's finance ministry, for autumn 2015, begins flatly with grim news and little hope for a better future: "The Finnish economy is in a serious situation. GDP growth is close to zero. Unemployment is rising and unemployment spells are becoming longer. Even once the recession is over, growth will be painfully slow."

As the economic picture gets darker, more Finns support the idea of a monthly check to every Finn, struggling or not. Nearly 70% of Finland's population is in favor of a basic income, according to a September poll. In April, voters elected the country's Centre party, which campaigned in favor of a basic income, to a controlling position in the government. The basic income is, however, popular among followers of nearly all the nation's parties.

But the scheme has its drawbacks. Finland is strapped for cash, with a major push for austerity — or cutting government costs — underway.

The universal basic income would require the equivalent of nearly the entirety of Finland's revenue The universal basic income would require the equivalent of nearly the entirety of Finland's revenue, and then some, which would imply higher taxes down the line for the nation's already struggling households.

Finland's 800-euro-a-month plan, distributed among every single person in the country including babies and teenagers, would cost 52 billion euros a year, and 47 billion euros if you count only adults.

Those are enormous numbers and a tough haul when the entire government's revenue for 2016 is expected to be only around 49.1 billion euros.

Finland is already highly indebted, with the country owing the equivalent of more than 58% of all the goods and services it produces in a year, and its central bank has warned that might double.

Finland's economic situation is set to get worse because of major demographic shifts. Finland's population is rapidly aging — faster than any other country in the EU. A fast-aging population is a major problem for several reasons. It means a country's workforce will shrink, as people retire from work - which in turn means the population will be less productive. Another reason: the country's revenues will fall and its economy will stagnate over time because there are fewer people working and paying income taxes, which make up the majority of a country's revenues.

Still, the idea has recently been picking up speed on a local level for years, since the big global financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent recessions and economic struggles in major countries. In Switzerland, a years-long push for basic income grew steadily in popularity until the nation's parliament rejected it in October. The Dutch city of Utrecht is in the process of a pilot project on basic income, and seven other cities in the country have announced their intention to explore the idea, which has been discussed in the Netherlands since the 1970s.

Manitoba, in Canada, tried the idea in the late 1970s, creating, briefly, "the town with no poverty." A subsequent study by Duke University researchers found that during its "MINCOME" experiment, Manitobans had lower rates of hospitalization, particularly for mental health problems and accidents.

With income inequality a growing concern for nearly all countries, many have experimented with basic incomes. A 2008 academic study found that simple cash transfers were effective and cheap, keeping down administrative costs; a government grant of $100 in Colombia, for instance, cost only 70 cents.

In theory, the concept of the basic income is politically appealing because it satisfies people who are on the left, who are concerned with strengthening social safety nets, as well as people who are conservative and opposed to large bureaucracies. A single check cut to each citizen seems to appeal to both sides.

Different countries respond differently, however. In Switzerland, the referendum for a universal basic income actually drew ire from both sides and was roundly struck down in a vote of 149-14, as conservatives feared a monthly check would increase both laziness and a wave of unsustainable immigration, while those on the left objected to wiping out the welfare system."
finland  universalbasicincome  2015  economics  socialsafetynet  poverty  mincome  manitoba  ubi 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why Kindergarten in Finland Is All About Playtime (and Why That Could Be More Stimulating Than the Common Core) - The Atlantic
"Forget the Common Core, Finland’s youngsters are in charge of determining what happens in the classroom."



"In the study, the percentage of kindergarten teachers who reported that they agreed (or strongly agreed) that children should learn to read in kindergarten greatly increased from 30 percent in 1998 to 80 percent in 2010.

Bassok and her colleagues found that while time spent on literacy in American kindergarten classrooms went up, time spent on arts, music, and child-selected activities (like station time) significantly dropped. Teacher-directed instruction also increased, revealing what Bassok described as “striking increases in the use of textbooks and worksheets… and very large increases in the use of assessments.”

But Finland—a Nordic nation of 5.5 million people, where I’ve lived and taught fifth and sixth graders over the last two years—appears to be on the other end of the kindergarten spectrum. Before moving to Helsinki, I had heard that most Finnish children start compulsory, government-paid kindergarten—or what Finns call “preschool”—at age 6. And not only that, but I learned through my Finnish mother-in-law—a preschool teacher—that Finland’s kindergartners spend a sizable chunk of each day playing, not filling out worksheets.

Finnish schools have received substantial media attention for years now—largely because of the consistently strong performance of its 15-year-olds on international tests like the PISA. But I haven’t seen much coverage on Finland’s youngest students.

So, a month ago, I scheduled a visit to a Finnish public kindergarten—where a typical school day is just four hours long."



"When children play, Osei Ntiamoah continued, they’re developing their language, math, and social-interaction skills. A recent research summary “The Power of Play” supports her findings: “In the short and long term, play benefits cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development…When play is fun and child-directed, children are motivated to engage in opportunities to learn,” the researcher concluded.

Osei Ntiamoah’s colleagues all seemed to share her enthusiasm for play-based learning, as did the school’s director, Maarit Reinikka: “It’s not a natural way for a child to learn when the teacher says, ‘Take this pencil and sit still.’” The school’s kindergarten educators have their students engage in desk work—like handwriting—just one day a week. Reinikka, who directs several preschools in Kuopio, assured me that kindergartners throughout Finland—like the ones at Niirala Preschool—are rarely sitting down to complete traditional paper-and-pencil exercises.

And there’s no such thing as a typical day of kindergarten at the preschool, the teachers said. Instead of a daily itinerary, two of them showed me a weekly schedule with no more than several major activities per day: Mondays, for example, are dedicated to field trips, ballgames, and running, while Fridays—the day I visited—are for songs and stations.

Once, Morning Circle—a communal time of songs and chants—wrapped up, the children disbanded and flocked to the station of their choice: There was one involving fort-making with bed sheets, one for arts and crafts, and one where kids could run a pretend ice-cream shop. “I’ll take two scoops of pear and two scoops of strawberry—in a waffle cone,” I told the two kindergarten girls who had positioned themselves at the ice-cream table; I had a (fake) 10€ bill to spend, courtesy of one of the teachers. As one of the girls served me—using blue tack to stick laminated cutouts of scoops together—I handed the money to her classmate.

With a determined expression reminiscent of the boys in the mud with their shovels, the young cashier stared at the price list. After a long pause, one of her teachers—perhaps sensing a good opportunity to step in—helped her calculate the difference between the price of my order and the 10€. Once I received my change (a few plastic coins), the girls giggled as I pretended to lick my ice cream.

Throughout the morning I noticed that the kindergartners played in two different ways: One was spontaneous and free form (like the boys building dams), while the other was more guided and pedagogical (like the girls selling ice cream).

In fact, Finland requires its kindergarten teachers to offer playful learning opportunities—including both kinds of play—to every kindergartner on a regular basis, according to Arja-Sisko Holappa, a counselor for the Finnish National Board of Education. What’s more, Holappa, who also leads the development of the country’s pre-primary core curriculum, said that play is being emphasized more than ever in latest version of that curriculum, which goes into effect in kindergartens next fall.

“Play is a very efficient way of learning for children,” she told me. “And we can use it in a way that children will learn with joy.”

The word “joy” caught me off guard—I’m certainly not used to hearing the word in conversations about education in America, where I received my training and taught for several years. But Holappa, detecting my surprise, reiterated that the country’s early-childhood education program indeed places a heavy emphasis on “joy,” which along with play is explicitly written into the curriculum as a learning concept. "There's an old Finnish saying,” Holappa said. “Those things you learn without joy you will forget easily.”

* * *

After two hours of visiting a Finnish kindergarten, I still hadn’t seen children reading. I was, however, hearing a lot of pre-literacy instruction sprinkled throughout the morning—clapping out syllables and rhyming in Morning Circle, for example. I recalled learning in my master’s degree courses in education that building phonemic awareness—an ability to recognize sounds without involving written language—was viewed as the groundwork of literacy development.

Just before lunch, a kindergarten teacher took out a basket brimming with children’s books. But for these 5- and 6-year-olds, “reading” looked just like how my two toddlers approach their books: The kindergartners, sitting in different corners of the room, flipped through pages, savoring the pictures but, for the most part, not actually deciphering the words. Osei Ntiamoah told me that just one of the 15 students in her class can currently read syllable by syllable. Many of them, she added, will read by the end of the year. “We don’t push them but they learn just because they are ready for it. If the child is willing and interested, we will help the child.”

There was a time in Finland—in the not so distant past—when kindergarten teachers weren’t even allowed to teach reading. This was viewed as the job of the first-grade teacher. But, as with America, things have changed: Nowadays, Finnish teachers are free to teach reading if they determine a child is—just as Osei Ntiamoah put it—“willing and interested” to learn.

Throughout Finland, kindergarten teachers and parents meet during the fall to make an individualized learning plan, shaped by each child’s interests and levels of readiness, which could include the goal of learning how to read. For Finnish kindergartners who seem primed for reading instruction, Holappa told me it’s still possible to teach them in a playful manner. She recommended the work of the Norwegian researcher Arne Trageton—a pioneer in the area of play-based literacy instruction."
literacy  reading  finland  education  schools  children  parenting  play  timwalker  kindergarten  daphnabassok  brunobettelheim  oseintiamoah  joy  sebastiansuggate  nancycarlsson-paige  arnetrageton  waldorfschools 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Blame Society, Not the Screen Time - NYTimes.com
"Even though multiple generations have now grown up glued to the flickering light of the TV, we still can’t let go of the belief that the next generation of technology is going to doom our kids. We blame technology, rather than work, to understand why children engage with screens in the first place.

I’ve spent over a decade observing young people’s practices with technology and interviewing families about the dynamics that unfold. When I began my research, I expected to find hordes of teenagers who were escaping “real life” through the Internet. That was certainly my experience. As a geeky, queer youth growing up in suburban America in the early 1990s, the Internet was the only place where I didn’t feel judged. I wanted to go virtual, for my body to not matter, to live in a digital-only world.

To my surprise — and, as I grew older, relief — that differed from what most youth want. Early on in my research, I met a girl in Michigan who told me that she’d much rather get together with her friends in person, but she had so many homework demands and her parents were often concerned about her physical safety. This is why she loved the Internet: She could hang out with her friends there. I've heard this reasoning echoed by youth around the country.

This is the Catch-22 that we’ve trapped today’s youth in. We’ve locked them indoors because we see the physical world as more dangerous than ever before, even though by almost every measure, we live in the safest society to date. We put unprecedented demands on our kids, maxing them out with structured activities, homework and heavy expectations. And then we’re surprised when they’re frazzled and strung out.

For many teenagers, technology is a relief valve. (And that goes for the strung-out, overworked parents and adults playing Candy Crush, too.) It’s not the inherently addictive substance that fretting parents like to imagine. It simply provides an outlet.

The presence of technology alone is not the issue. We see much higher levels of concern about technology “addiction” in countries where there’s even greater pressure to succeed and fewer social opportunities (e.g., China, South Korea, etc.).

If Americans truly want to reduce the amount young people use technology, we should free up more of their time.

For one thing, we could radically reduce the amount of homework and tests American youth take. Finland and the Netherlands consistently outperform the U.S. in school, and they emphasize student happiness, assigning almost no homework. (To be sure, they also respect their teachers and pay them what they’re worth.) When I lecture in these countries, parents don't seem nearly as anxious about technology addiction as Americans.

We should also let children roam. It seems like every few weeks I read a new story about a parent who was visited by child services for letting their school-aged children out of their sight. Indeed, studies in the U.S. and the U.K. consistently show that children have lost the right to roam.

This is why many of our youth turn to technology. They aren’t addicted to the computer; they’re addicted to interaction, and being around their friends. Children, and especially teenagers, don’t want to only socialize with parents and siblings; they want to play with their peers. That’s how they make sense of the world. And we’ve robbed them of that opportunity because we’re afraid of boogeymen.

We’re raising our children in captivity and they turn to technology to socialize, learn and decompress. Why are we blaming the screens?"
2015  danahboyd  teens  youth  freedom  internet  time  screens  screentime  online  social  socialmedia  freetime  homework  socializing  learning  technology  testing  safety  parenting  schools  education  society  us  finland  netherlands  anxiety  uk 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Defies Measurement on Vimeo
"DEFIES MEASUREMENT strengthens the discussion about public education by exploring why it is so important to address the social and emotional needs of every student, and what happens when the wrong people make decisions for schools.

For information on how to screen this film for others and for resources to learn more and take action, visit defiesmeasurement.com

By downloading this film, you are agreeing to the 3 terms listed below:

1) I will only use portions of Defies Measurement or the whole film for educational purposes and I will NOT edit or change the film in any way. (Educational purposes = viewing a portion or complete version of the film for an individual, private or public event, free of charge or as a fundraiser)

2) I will post a photo or comment about the film and/or screening on the Defies Measurement Facebook page

3) I will spread the word about the film to others via social media and word of mouth. Follow us @defymeasurement #defiesmeasurement"

[See also:
https://www.shineonpro.com/
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/115791029088/defies-measurement-via-will-richardsondefies ]
testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  schools  education  middleschool  chipmanmiddleschool  lindadarling-hammond  alfiekohn  martinmalström  socialemotionallearning  poverty  iq  assessment  policy  howweteach  howelearn  learning  competition  politics  arneduncan  jebbush  measurement  quantification  inequality  finland  us  edreform  tcsnmy  community  experientiallearning  communitycircles  morningmeetings  documentary  film  terrielkin  engagement  meaningmaking  howwelearn  teaching  sylviakahn  regret  sellingout  georgewbush  susankovalik  lauriemclachlan-fry  joanduvall-flynn  government  howardgardner  economics  anthonycody  privatization  lobbying  gatesfoundation  marknaison  billgates  davidkirp  broadfoundation  charitableindustrialcomplex  commoncore  waltonfamily  teachforamerica  tfa  mercedesschneider  dianeravitch  davidberliner  publischools  anationatrisk  joelklein  condoleezzarice  tonywagner  business  markets  freemarket  neworleans  jasonfrance  naomiklein  shockdoctrine  karranharper-royal  julianvasquezheilig  sarahstickle  ronjohnson  alanskoskopf  soci 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Finland's important, misunderstood campaign to rethink how students learn - Vox
"The largest city in Finland is experimenting with getting rid of school subjects. This would mean doing away with lessons in history, math, and science in favor of teaching broader themes, where teachers work together on lessons in a given topic.

The goal is to help students in Helsinki better understand how their classwork relates to real life, and to give teachers the opportunity to work together to plan lessons. And the change, which for now has really only taken hold in one city, is likely to contribute to the idea of Finland as an education paradise, with plentiful playtime, few standardized tests, no requirement that students learn cursive, and, maybe one day, no formal subjects at all.

Next year, a new framework for Finnish education will direct schools across the country to experiment with this model at least occasionally. Because Finland has a reputation for excellent performance on international tests — although that reputation has slipped somewhat recently — the change will be closely watched. So far, though, Finland isn't throwing out the traditional approach to education entirely. Not yet.

How the new Helsinki approach to education works

Finland began experimenting with topic-based lessons in the 1970s, says Pasi Sahlberg, an expert on Finnish education and a visiting professor of practice at Harvard.

Helsinki has embraced topics instead of subjects recently, requiring schools to experiment at least twice a year with this approach to education. Beginning next year, all schools in Finland will be required to try it at least once.

At some Helsinki schools, students on the academic track are studying the European Union, combining history, geography, economics, and languages; on the vocational track, they're studying "cafeteria services," including math and communication skills, according to the Independent (UK).

This is an idea borrowed from the US: it comes from the theories of education philosopher John Dewey, who wanted to educate the "whole child," and has gone in and out of style in American schools. A vocationally oriented version of this approach has caught on recently for adults at community colleges in Washington state, where some programs instruct students in job skills and academic subjects at the same time.

How Finland is overhauling its schools

Finland's education system is internationally renowned. But the nation is in the middle of a broad overhaul of its framework for education: loose guidelines for schools and districts on what students should learn. The changes are meant to ensure the school system is in step with what the nation will need in the future, and to emphasize students working together and "the joy of learning," according to Finland's national board of education.

The main goal of the new approach is to address a concern Finns have about their education system: that it doesn't do enough to encourage curiosity and make learning relevant in the real world, Sahlberg said.

Compared with the OECD average, students in Finland are more likely to be late for school, more likely to say they give up easily when confronted with a difficult problem, and less likely to say they do more than what is expected of them. (Students in the US are also more likely to say they remain interested in their work once they've started it than Finnish students are, and are more likely to say they exceed expectations.)

"Finland has been working a long time already to try to find ways to engage young people more into their own learning and to make schoolwork more meaningful and interesting," Sahlberg said.

But Finland will still have national expectations for what students learn. In other words, even if some schools eliminate math and language classes for part or even all of the year, students will still be expected to master those subjects."

[See also: https://theconversation.com/finlands-school-reforms-wont-scrap-subjects-altogether-39328
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/26/no-finlands-schools-arent-giving-up-traditional-subjects-heres-what-the-reforms-will-really-do/ ]
finland  education  interdisciplinary  washingtonstate  johndewey  us  policy  creativity  subjects  departments  schools  teaching  learning  multidisciplinary  helsinki  pasisahlberg  libbynelson  curriculum  integratedstudies 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Finland to remove cursive handwriting from education curriculum - Education News - Education - The Independent
"Cursive handwriting will be scrapped from the Finnish education curriculum and replaced by lessons in keyboard typing, it has been announced.

The country’s education board said that the change - set to take effect in 2016 - will reflect how typing skills are more relevant than handwriting. The move has sparked debate over the future of handwriting in the classroom.

Minna Harmanen from the National Board of Education told Finnish publication Savon Sanomat that "fluent typing skills are an important national competence".

In September 2013 cursive handwriting was removed as a compulsory skill in the US, where 43 states have adopted the standard as of last year.

Misty Adoniou, senior lecturer of Language, Literacy and TESL at the University of Canberra, told The Independent: "I think they [Finland] have made a sensible decision, and it has probably come about from a sensible curriculum review.

"Cursive writing is a reflection of a time when we used a fountain pen and ink - a writing technology.

"Nobody is arguing that children shouldn't learn to write by hand. However writing technologies have continued to evolve and most of us use a keyboard of some kind to most of our written communication, so it does make sense to spend some time at school ensuring children have those keyboard skills.""
handwriting  cursive  finland  2015  curriculum  schools  education  learning  keyboarding 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Finland schools: Subjects are out and ‘topics’ are in as country reforms its education system - Europe - World - The Independent
[Update: see “Finland's important, misunderstood campaign to rethink how students learn” http://www.vox.com/2015/3/25/8288495/finland-education-subjects
https://theconversation.com/finlands-school-reforms-wont-scrap-subjects-altogether-39328
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/26/no-finlands-schools-arent-giving-up-traditional-subjects-heres-what-the-reforms-will-really-do/ ]

"For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.

Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world – including the UK – have made pilgrimages to Helsinki in the hope of identifying and replicating the secret of its success.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programmes ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional “teaching by subject” in favour of “teaching by topic”.

“This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning,” said Liisa Pohjolainen, who is in charge of youth and adult education in Helsinki – the capital city at the forefront of the reform programme.

Pasi Silander, the city’s development manager, explained: “What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life.

“Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed.

“We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society.”

Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.

More academic pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union - which would merge elements of economics, history (of the countries involved), languages and geography.

There are other changes too, not least to the traditional format that sees rows of pupils sitting passively in front of their teacher, listening to lessons or waiting to be questioned. Instead there will be a more collaborative approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.

Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager – who will be presenting her blueprint for change to the council at the end of this month, said: “It is not only Helsinki but the whole of Finland who will be embracing change.

“We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow.



Case study: Finnish approach

It is an English lesson, but there is a map of continental Europe on the whiteboard. The children must combine weather conditions with the different countries displayed on the board. For instance, today it is sunny in Finland and foggy in Denmark. This means the pupils combine the learning of English with geography.

Welcome to Siltamaki primary school in Helsinki – a school with 240 seven- to 12-year-olds – which has embraced Finland’s new learning style. Its principal, Anne-Mari Jaatinen, explains the school’s philosophy: “We want the pupils to learn in a safe, happy, relaxed and inspired atmosphere.”

We come across children playing chess in a corridor and a game being played whereby children rush around the corridors collecting information about different parts of Africa. Ms Jaatinen describes what is going on as “joyful learning”. She wants more collaboration and communication between pupils to allow them to develop their creative thinking skills."

[See also: http://qz.com/367487/goodbye-math-and-history-finland-wants-to-abandon-teaching-subjects-at-school/ ]
interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  education  schools  tcsnmy  cv  finland  curriculum  2015  policy  subjects  topics  pasisilander  lcproject  openstudioproject  learning  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  play  playfulness 
march 2015 by robertogreco
An Ancient Design in a Modern Age by Per Kristian Bergmo (Works That Work magazine)
"The lávvu served for centuries as portable housing for reindeer herders. Its practical, efficient design and cultural heritage are attracting new users across Scandinavia."



"More than just a functional shelter, however, the lávvu is also important as a gathering place, a structure that creates community. As Reider Breivik, a 72-year-old Norwegian teacher and lávvu enthusiast, says, ‘I fell in love with it in 1980 for its use as a social arena with people sitting in a circle inside, facing each other. The feeling is very similar to sitting around a campfire, and in a way, that is what you do in a lávvu. It creates a great atmosphere where everyone is equal. It is a structure people from all over the world will feel at home in. I once hosted colleagues from Kenya, and as soon as they entered the lávvu they said that it reminded them of their grandmother’s house. They ended up choosing to sleep there instead of in the house for the duration of their stay.’For Herman Rundberg, the drummer of Violet Road, one of Norway’s most popular bands, the lávvu that his family puts up every year at the Riddu Riddu music festival is a connection to fundamental values: ‘I love the silence when you wake up in the lávvu on the tundra, or in the mountains, or at a festival camp. The sound of my father lighting the fire at dawn is a moment beautiful beyond words. I also really appreciate that even in these busy, fast-paced, modern times there is a place where you can do something as simple as sitting in a circle around a fireplace and just talking and feeling. It heals your soul and calms you.’"
architecture  design  portability  culture  perkristianbergmo  sami  sweden  finland  scandinavia  nomads  nomadism  lávvu 
february 2015 by robertogreco
What We Can Learn from Homeschooling - Hybrid Pedagogy
"I explain all of this not to suggest that homeschooling creates prodigies. It doesn’t, although some homeschoolers are advanced students. My daughter is a regular, bright kid who is flourishing because she has had the opportunity to follow a personal educational path with guidance and participation from the adults in her life. She has had the opportunity to work several grades ahead in her areas of strength and take her time with math, ultimately winding up ahead there, too. In addition, she has far more options for elective study. When I was in high school, I had to choose between orchestra and chorus. There wasn’t time for both. Using free or low-cost resources, my daughter has been able to pursue subjects that are important to her: art, music, computer programming, creating videos, writing novels, and reading — lots and lots of reading. She earns PE credit by taking karate classes, where she is always working towards the next goal of a tournament or belt test. Offering a selection of electives that aren’t necessarily offered by the school, and allowing students to choose several of them would either be impossible in or highly disruptive to the current system. Most kids in traditional school are riding atop an educational super tanker, huge, powerful, and slow to stop or change course, but because we can work outside that system, we’ve been able to speed around on a jet ski.

Let me clarify that I am not using personal learning to mean “personalized learning,” the theory advocating adaptive learning as a panacea for the efficiency problems seen in educating children. Education is a messy process. Like human history itself, it’s not linear but iterative, and we need to pay attention to where each child is on that somewhat unpredictable journey. I am an educational technology advocate who would agree that adaptive learning software is good (even fun) for learning certain things, and technology, used thoughtfully, is a tremendous tool in the hands of practiced educators. However, I would also assert that personal learning ultimately prioritizes human relationships, both faculty/student and students/peers. As in the case of my daughter’s math class, using telecommuting technologies may simply allow us to extend our network of faculty and peers beyond geographical constraints.

If we build this kind of flexibility with accountability into the curriculum, will teaching look different? Yes, and in many ways it will be more difficult. It will require working one on one with students in a very intense way. The hours may be longer, the scheduling different, and more will be expected in terms of collaboration, preparation, and continuing professional development. Finally, because such highly qualified professionals will require more compensation, they may be working with larger class sizes. That’s not ideal, just realistic. I suggest, though, that being an educator in this sort of environment will also be infinitely more rewarding. When educators become facilitators or even, as Chris Friend and Sean Michael Morris argue, “lab managers,” the student truly moves to the center of his or her own learning. If we prepare them, over time, to take control of that learning, then even when some require additional help, students are more likely to thrive."



"The University of Pennsylvania admissions page welcomes homeschooled applicants as “academically talented and often courageous pioneers who chart non-conventional academic paths.” The University of Arizona has a dedicated recruiter for homeschooled students, just as they do for each county in the state. MIT claims that they have long accepted homeschooled students, who become “successful and vibrant members of our community.” If the point of an education is to foster the kind of “intellectual vitality” noted by Reider in his search for Stanford University applicants, why wouldn’t we take what we’ve learned from homeschooling successes and apply it to the education of all our students? Forget iPads. Students need what homeschooling offers: autonomy, versatility, and freedom — in other words, jet skis."
melanieborrego  education  srg  edg  glvo  unschooling  deschooling  learning  colleges  universities  admissions  2015  chrisfriend  seanmichaelmorris  autonomy  homeschool  versitality  freedom  howwelearn  howweteach  messiness  relationships  personalization  personalizedlearning  personallearning  flexibility  johnholt  stanford  ucriverside  mit  penn  leifnelson  finland 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The American Way over the Nordic Model? Are we crazy? - LA Times
"In my long nomadic life, I've been to both poles and most countries in between. I still remember when to be an American was to be envied. The country where I grew up after World War II seemed to be respected and admired around the world.

Today, as one of 1.6 million Americans living in Europe, I instead face hard questions about our nation. Wherever I travel, Europeans, Asians and Africans ask expatriates like me to explain everything odd or troubling about the conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, ask pointedly about America's trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and "exceptionality."

Their questions share a single underlying theme: Have Americans gone over the edge? Are you crazy?

At the absolute top of the list: "Why would anyone oppose national healthcare?" Many countries have had some form of national healthcare since the 1930s, Germany since 1880. Some versions, as in France and Britain, have devolved into two-tier public and private systems. Yet even the privileged would not begrudge their fellow citizens government-funded comprehensive healthcare. That so many Americans do strikes Europeans as baffling, if not brutal.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

In the Scandinavian countries, long considered to be the most socially progressive in the world, a national (physical and mental) health program is a big part — but only a part — of a more general social welfare system. In Norway, where I live, all citizens also have access to free education from age 6 through specialty training or university; low cost, subsidized preschool; unemployment benefits, job-placement and paid retraining; paid parental leave; old age pensions, and more. These benefits are not a "safety net" — that is, charitable payments grudgingly bestowed upon the needy. They are universal: equally available as a human right, promoting social harmony.

This is the Nordic Model: a balance of regulated capitalism, universal social welfare, political democracy and the highest levels of gender and economic equality on the planet. It's their system, begun in Sweden in the 1930s and developed across Scandinavia in the postwar period. Yes, they pay for it through high taxation. (Though compared with the U.S. tax code, Norway's progressive income tax is remarkably streamlined.) And despite the efforts of an occasional conservative government to muck it up, they maintain it. Why?

They like it. International rankings cite Norway as the best place to grow old, to be a woman and to raise a child. The title of "best" or "happiest" place to live on Earth comes down to a neighborly contest among Norway and the neighboring Nordic social democracies, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.

All the Nordic countries broadly agree that only when people's basic needs are met — when they cease to worry about jobs, education, healthcare, transportation, etc. — can they truly be free to do as they like. While the U.S. settles for the fantasy that every kid has an equal shot at the American dream, Nordic social welfare systems lay the foundations for a more authentic equality and individualism.

These ideas are not novel. They are implied in the preamble to our own Constitution. You know, the part about "We the People" forming "a more perfect Union" to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."

Knowing this, a Norwegian is appalled at what America is doing to its posterity today. That top chief executives are paid 300 to 400 times as much as an average employee. Or that Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chris Christie of New Jersey, having run up their state's debts by cutting taxes for the rich, now plan to cover the loss with money snatched from public pension funds. That two-thirds of American college students finish in the red, some owing $100,000 or more. That in the U.S., still the world's richest country, 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Or that the multitrillion-dollar wars of Presidents George W. Bush and Obama were fought on a credit card, to be paid off by the kids.

Implications of America's uncivilized inhumanity lurk in the questions foreign observers ask me: Why can't you shut down that concentration camp in Cuba? Why can't you stop interfering with women's healthcare? What is it about science and climate change you can't understand?

And the most pressing question of all: Why do you send your military all over the world to stir up trouble for all of us?

Europeans often connect America's reckless conduct abroad to its refusal to put its own house in order. They've watched the United States unravel its flimsy safety net, fail to replace decaying infrastructure, weaken organized labor, bring its national legislature to a standstill and create the greatest degree of economic inequality in almost a century. As they see it, with ever less personal security and next to no social welfare system, Americans are bound to be anxious and fearful. They understand as well why so many Americans have lost trust in a national government that for three decades has done so little for them (save Obama's endlessly embattled modest healthcare effort).

In Norway's capital, where a statue of a contemplative President Franklin D. Roosevelt overlooks the harbor, many America-watchers think he may have been the last U.S. president who understood and could explain to the citizenry what government might do for all of them.

It's hard to pin down why America is as it is today, and — believe me — even harder to explain it to others. Some Europeans who interrogate me say that the U.S. is "crazy" — or "paranoid," "self-absorbed," or simply "behind the times." Others, more charitably, imply that Americans are merely "misguided" or "asleep" and may still recover sanity. But wherever I travel, the questions follow, each suggesting that the United States, if not exactly crazy, is decidedly a danger to itself and others."
2015  annejones  us  healthcare  healthinsurance  socialsafetynet  scandinavia  norway  germany  uk  europe  inequality  equality  americandream  progressivism  socialism  capitalism  politics  policy  parentalleave  pensions  universality  nordiccountries  sweden  denmark  finland  iceland  individualism  equity  education  obamacare  affordablecareact  fdr 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Beautiful Bytes of Data | The Jose Vilson
"The word data slides easily off the tongue but has no personality and sounds as dry as a funeral drum. School administrators try to grace the word by telling parents that “data-driven school districts” will radically change public education, hoping that a staccato of words and a flare of alliteration will impress a captive audience. Some disingenuous school officials assert that “data-driven” is an essential tool for effectively managing a business, so why not a school system?

But it’s all a ruse. The sum of all the rhetoric about the importance of designing data-driven school districts is a shell game, a slight of hand practiced by illusionists to distract trusting parents who believe school administrators know what is best for their children. Anything “data-driven” must be beneficial for schools, parents are told, because data is information, and information is necessary to make sound decisions about curriculum, instruction and learning. And since even the best used car salesperson can no longer sell the faux elixir of Common Core now that this failed one-size-fits-all education policy has been exposed, school administrators need a new mantra to mystify parents.

Data has an ugly side, a face that frequently emerges when it is misinterpreted or convoluted to justify a faulty assumption or bad decision. The countless financial manipulations practiced by Wall Street brokers and bankers have repeatedly proven that data can be exploited and cause financial ruin for millions of people. Data may be defined as a set of values of quantitative and qualitative variables, and business savors at the trough of data, but schools should be people-driven rather than data-driven institutions.

The young man who stepped in front of the train was a beautiful byte of data, but he was more than the sum of the quantitative information collected by a data-driven school district. His social and emotional data fills less space on his school district’s list of quantifiable student data than math and science scores, and that is the shame of the present state of American public education.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease … combined. Need quantitative data? Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,400 suicide attempts by young people grades 7-12, and four out of five teens who have attempted suicide give clear warning signs. Maybe its time to take off the blinders of a data-driven school district to see clearly that our students are suffering.

Data is not our generation’s penicillin. It is an ugly word used by school administrators, policy makers, and government officials to demean the greatest social institution ever designed by human hands – a public school. Data is being used to compare the United States with countries such as Finland because the Finns score higher on international math and science tests, but can someone – anyone – tell me what Finland produces with their wealth of science and math knowledge?

[crickets]
The United States may score lower on international math and science tests, but somehow we instill creativity in our students and produce amazing technologies.

I taught and helped mentor the young man who stepped in front of the train. I helped him get a scholarship to a vocational school after he earned a high school diploma. He wanted to be an electrician, but I also knew about the many demons that tormented his gentle soul. He endured a miserable childhood, never knew his father, drank too much, and could not leash his black dog of depression. I tried to place him on a road that could lead him to a better place, believing that terra firma would make him feel a clearer path to success and salvation, but he could not see nor feel the ground beneath his feet. I failed.

I believe the vast majority of classroom teachers are not opposed to collecting data that may enhance instructional strategies or improve learning, but do object to a school system trying to emulate a business model designed to increase production and profits rather than enhance social and emotional growth. The social and emotional learning needs of children are too often omitted when describing the purpose of a “data-driven school district” and this is a flawed education philosophy.

The young man was a beautiful byte of data. Now he is a cold dead statistic."
2014  data  depression  metrics  schools  publischools  comparison  standardization  standardizedtesting  politics  policy  pisa  finland  us  testing  commoncore  josévilson 
november 2014 by robertogreco
America’s dangerous education myth: Why it isn’t the best anti-poverty program - Salon.com
"If you’ve followed the education reform debate in this country, the Finland story should be familiar by now. Almost as if engaged in an elaborate troll, Finland has apparently organized its educational system in exactly the opposite way as the reform movement here claims is necessary. The reformers say we need longer school days, but the Finns have short ones. The reformers say we need extensive standardized testing, but the Finns have almost none. The reformers say we need to keep a close leash on teachers, but the Finns give their teachers considerable freedom. Despite all of these pedagogical mistakes, the Finns consistently find themselves at the top of the international education scoreboard.

Normally, the suggested lesson of the Finland story is that the education reformers’ proposals are at minimum unnecessary and perhaps even counterproductive. Whether this lesson actually falls out of the Finland story is the subject of hotly contested arguments that are insufferably boring. However, flying under the radar of these Finland debates is a much less contestable and interesting lesson: Education cannot deliver economic equality.

If ever there was an opportunity to show that education can fix inequality and poverty, Finland is it. The children come into its education system with the lowest poverty rates in the world. In addition to its overall excellence, Finland’s education system is also extremely egalitarian in the way that it instructs its pupils. There are almost no private schools, college is free, and an ethos of total inclusion seems to reign. It is the closest thing to the liberal education utopia as you will probably ever find.

Despite all of this, Finnish economic inequality and poverty is still quite high, at least when you look at the market distribution of income. In 2010, Finland’s market poverty rate (defined as those with incomes below 50 percent of the median income) was 32.2 percent. By comparison, the United States’ market poverty was actually lower at 28.4 percent. When it comes to overall inequality, Finland’s Gini coefficient in 2010 was 0.479. This was only slightly lower than the U.S.’ Gini coefficient, which stood at 0.499.

Education boosters bizarrely think that providing everyone a high-quality education will somehow magically result in them all having good-paying jobs. But, as Finland shows, this turns out not to be true. Apparently, it’s not possible for everyone to simultaneously hold jobs as well-paid upper-class professionals because at least some people have to actually do real work. A modern economy requires a whole army of lesser-skilled jobs that just don’t pay that well and the necessity of those jobs doesn’t go away simply because people are well-educated.

The reason Finland’s ultimate distribution of income is so equal is not because its great education system has made everyone receive high paychecks (an impossible task), but because Finland has put in place distributive policies that make sure its national income is shared broadly. In 2010, Finland’s tax level was 42.5 percent of its GDP, which was nearly double the tax level of the U.S. By strategically spreading that tax money around through a host of cash transfer and benefit programs, Finland’s high market poverty rate of 32.2 percent fell to just 7.3 percent. Its child poverty rate, which Finland focuses extra attention on, fell down to 3.9 percent. Overall economic inequality took a similar dive.

The real lesson that the Finland story teaches us is not the one about pedagogical techniques that draws so much fierce debate. Rather, it’s a lesson about what very successful pedagogy and excellent education can actually do for a society. Good education can make your society well-educated and more productive, but it cannot generate a labor market in which everyone works a high-paying job. It cannot ensure that market income is distributed evenly or adequately. It cannot even come remotely close to doing those things.

The upshot of this lesson is that the fixation on education as a solution to poverty, inequality or any other distributional problem is totally wrongheaded. Good and equitable education is a huge plus for all sorts of things, but it doesn’t create an egalitarian society. Those who say it will – a group that includes reformers and their opponents – have no idea what they are talking about and, through their ignorant distractions, help sow the seeds of never-ending stratification and low-end material insecurity."
2014  education  poverty  policy  us  finland  insecurity  capitalism  society  inequality  edreform 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Dear America: If you love kids, let your schools show your affection. - Taught by Finland
"I told them about how Finnish first and second graders have about four hours of school every day, which is more like a half-day back in the United States. Not only that, but kids in Finland have a 15-minute break built into every hour of instruction (more on that later); this means that a 4-hour school day involves just three hours of classroom time for first and second graders! This is incredible news to American parents and teachers, but it’s even more amazing to Italians. I spoke with one parent who told me that her daughter, a student at a public elementary school in Bologna, does 8-hour school days (8:00 am to 4:00 pm) with barely any time for recess. Oh. My. And I used to think that a typical schedule at an American elementary school was too much for kids!

The Finnish approach of providing less academic instruction to young kids is sensible. As students in Finland grow older, they generally spend more hours at school. For example, my sixth graders are in school about six hours every day compared with the four they used to have as first and second graders. 7- and 8-year-olds thrive on shorter school days because they need lots of time for free play. Sixth graders, not as much.

When you are in school for eight hours (or even six), there is little time and energy to play afterwards. School this long can easily kill creativity, not necessarily by what happens during lessons, but by the space it takes up in the lives of young children. Research has shown that kids only start to enter a deeper level of play—where creativity and problem-solving skills develop—after 30 minutes of uninterrupted free time. If you’re a young American and Italian student, these long stretches of free play are non-existent in schools, so the only hope is that you’d have time after the school day. But that’s unlikely to happen when you’re flat-out exhausted, your homework is burning a hole in your backpack and your bedtime is just a couple of hours from when you return home.

Finns—who are typically reserved—may not be pinching and coddling babies on the street, but they’re making sure that their children are getting what they need at school. Sometimes this looks like keeping the school day short for young kids. Of course, my argument hinges on the assumption that 7- and 8-year-old Finns are spending their after school hours engaged in free play, not structured tasks like private tutoring and organized sports (as is common practice in the United States).

In January of this year, I wanted to see how most of the first and second graders at my school were using their free time after school. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just thinking wishfully that Finnish kids were playing deeply after their last class. I wasn’t disappointed. For three hours, I attended their iltapäivä kerho (“afternoon club”)—a subsidized public program that enrolls 70% of the first and second graders at my school—that was exclusively play-oriented. The adult supervisors told me that they don’t even encourage the kids to complete their meager amounts of homework before they head home at 4:00 pm because they believe young children just need time to play with their friends. And that’s exactly what I saw these 7- and 8-year-olds doing: playing dress-up, building with legos and drawing.

As I mentioned earlier, Finnish kids are entitled to take a 15-minute break for every 45 minutes of instruction. Finland takes this so seriously that it’s even guaranteed by law. While I was visiting Rome, I was told that typically Italian high school students get just 10-minutes of break every day (and they’re expected to eat during this time)! On top of this, they will spend most of the school day in just one classroom; teachers come to them. Meanwhile, kids in Finland—young and old—receive 15-minute unstructured breaks throughout the school day and they have the opportunity to slip outside for fresh air during these times, even when it’s freezing.

Obviously, these 15-minute breaks are not long enough to provide young students with time for deep play, but they’re just long enough to refocus children. So, first and second graders in Finland are putting in three hours of high-quality classroom work every morning—because they’re paced by frequent breaks—and in the afternoon, they’re playing deeply throughout the entire afternoon. That’s a pretty sweet deal for kids.

But the case of Italy still befuddles me. They clearly love children but their schools—with their long and nearly recess-less school days—do not show evidence of their affection. I feel the same way about many American public elementary schools. We say we love children (and I know, deep down, we do) and yet, we send our kids to kindergarten at the age of five and they receive full-day academic instruction. We give young children just 20-minutes or so of recess for an entire school day. We throw dozens of standardized tests at our kids, starting in third grade or even younger, narrowing their curriculum and stressing them out, along with their teachers. We require young American kids to attend school each day for nearly twice as long as young Finnish children, leaving them with little time and energy for play after school.

By providing things like frequent breaks, shorter school days and less standardized tests, Finnish schools are not doing anything particularly innovative. This tiny Nordic country is simply making sensible decisions that support the wellbeing of all children. And when you stop to think about it, this is exactly what all school systems should be doing."
finland  education  schedules  scheduling  classtime  recess  2014  timwalker  lcproject  openstudioproject  play  freeplay  unschooling  deschooling  policy  us  italy  schools  teaching  learning  howwelearn  unstructuredtime  openstudio 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Taught by Finland
"American teacher at a Finnish school."

"As an American teacher at a Helsinki public school, I'm getting to experience the innerworkings of Finnish education.

I created the Taught by Finland blog as a way to share many of my observations and insights from my time here."
teaching  education  finland  blogs  schools  howweteach  learning  children  timwalker 
august 2014 by robertogreco
A Thousand Rivers: What the modern world has forgotten about children and learning.
[also here: http://carolblack.org/a-thousand-rivers/ ]

"The following statement somehow showed up on my Twitter feed the other day:
“Spontaneous reading happens for a few kids. The vast majority need (and all can benefit from) explicit instruction in phonics.”

This 127-character edict issued, as it turned out, from a young woman who is the “author of the forthcoming book Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter” and a “journalist, consultant and speaker who helps people understand how we learn and how we can do it better.”

It got under my skin, and not just because I personally had proven in the first grade that it is possible to be bad at phonics even if you already know how to read. It was her tone; that tone of sublime assurance on the point, which, further tweets revealed, is derived from “research” and “data” which demonstrate it to be true.

Many such “scientific” pronouncements have emanated from the educational establishment over the last hundred years or so.  The fact that the proven truths of each generation are discovered by the next to be harmful folly never discourages the current crop of experts who are keen to impose their freshly-minted certainties on children. Their tone of cool authority carries a clear message to the rest of us: “We know how children learn.  You don’t.

So they explain it to us.

The “scientific consensus” about phonics, generated by a panel convened by the Bush administration and used to justify billions of dollars in government contracts awarded to Bush supporters in the textbook and testing industries, has been widely accepted as fact through the years of “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top,” so if history is any guide, its days are numbered. Any day now there will be new research which proves that direct phonics instruction to very young children is harmful, that it bewilders and dismays them and makes them hate reading (we all know that’s often true, so science may well discover it) — and millions of new textbooks, tests, and teacher guides will have to be purchased at taxpayer expense from the Bushes’ old friends at McGraw-Hill.

The problems with this process are many, but the one that I’d like to highlight is this: the available “data” that drives it is not, as a matter of fact, the “science of how people learn.” It is the “science of what happens to people in schools.”

This is when it occurred to me: people today do not even know what children are actually like. They only know what children are like in schools.

Schools as we know them have existed for a very short time historically: they are in themselves a vast social experiment. A lot of data are in at this point. One in four Americans does not know the earth revolves around the sun. Half of Americans don’t know that antibiotics can’t cure a virus. 45% of American high school graduates don’t know that the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press. These aren’t things that are difficult to know. If the hypothesis is that universal compulsory schooling is the best way to to create an informed and critically literate citizenry, then anyone looking at the data with a clear eye would have to concede that the results are, at best, mixed. At worst, they are catastrophic: a few strains of superbacteria may be about to prove that point for us.

On the other hand, virtually all white American settlers in the northeastern colonies at the time of the American Revolution could read, not because they had all been to school, and certainly not because they had all been tutored in phonics, which didn’t exist at the time. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, not exactly light reading, sold over 500,000 copies in its first year of publication, the equivalent of a book selling sixty million copies today. People learned to read in a variety of ways, some from small one-room schools, but many from their mothers, from tutors, traveling ministers, apprentice’s masters, relatives, neighbors, friends. They could read because, in a literate population, it is really not that difficult to transmit literacy from one person to the next. When people really want a skill, it goes viral. You couldn’t stop it if you tried.

In other words, they could read for all the same reasons that we can now use computers. We don’t know how to use computers because we learned it in school, but because we wanted to learn it and we were free to learn it in whatever way worked best for us. It is the saddest of ironies that many people now see the fluidity and effectiveness of this process as a characteristic of computers, rather than what it is, which is a characteristic of human beings.

In the modern world, unless you learn to read by age 4, you are no longer free to learn in this way. Now your learning process will be scientifically planned, controlled, monitored and measured by highly trained “experts” operating according to the best available “data.” If your learning style doesn’t fit this year’s theory, you will be humiliated, remediated, scrutinized, stigmatized, tested, and ultimately diagnosed and labelled as having a mild defect in your brain.

How did you learn to use a computer? Did a friend help you? Did you read the manual? Did you just sit down and start playing around with it? Did you do a little bit of all of those things? Do you even remember? You just learned it, right?”



"City kids who grow up among cartoon mice who talk and fish who sing show tunes are so delayed in their grasp of real living systems that Henrich et al. suggest that studying the cognitive development of biological reasoning in urban children may be “the equivalent of studying “normal” physical growth in malnourished children.” But in schools, rural Native children are tested and all too often found to be less intelligent and more learning “disabled” than urban white children, a deeply disturbing phenomenon which turns up among traditional rural people all over the world."



"Human cognitive diversity exists for a reason; our differences are the genius – and the conscience – of our species. It’s no accident that indigenous holistic thinkers are the ones who have been consistently reminding us of our appropriate place in the ecological systems of life as our narrowly-focused technocratic society veers wildly between conservation and wholesale devastation of the planet. It’s no accident that dyslexic holistic thinkers are often our artists, our inventors, our dreamers, our rebels. "



"Right now American phonics advocates are claiming that they “know” how children learn to read and how best to teach them. They know nothing of the kind. A key value in serious scientific inquiry is also a key value in every indigenous culture around the world: humility. We are learning."



"“It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top,” a great artist once said. Science is a tool of breathtaking power and beauty, but it is not a good parent; it must be balanced by something broader, deeper, older. Like wind and weather, like ecosystems and microorganisms, like snow crystals and evolution, human learning remains untamed, unpredictable, a blossoming fractal movement so complex and so mysterious that none of us can measure or control it. But we are part of that fractal movement, and the ability to help our offspring learn and grow is in our DNA. We can begin rediscovering it now. Experiment. Observe. Listen. Explore the thousand other ways of learning that still exist all over the planet. Read the data and then set it aside. Watch your child’s eyes, what makes them go dull and dead, what makes them brighten, quicken, glow with light. That is where learning lies."
carolblack  2014  education  learning  certainty  experts  science  research  data  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  schooling  compulsoryschooling  history  literacy  canon  parenting  experimentation  listening  observation  noticing  indigeneity  howwelearn  howweteach  wisdom  intuition  difference  diversity  iainmcgilchrist  truth  idleness  dyslexia  learningdifferences  rosscooper  neurodiveristy  finland  policy  standards  standardization  adhd  resistance  reading  howweread  sugatamitra  philiplieberman  maori  aboriginal  society  cv  creativity  independence  institutionalization  us  josephhenrich  stevenjheine  aranorenzayan  weird  compulsory  māori  colonization  colonialism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The future resident of Helsinki will not own a car
"Ten years from now, transportation in Helsinki may operate very differently from the current system.

The service will be run by transportation operators, through which the regular citizen can buy all they want with a click. This does not only entail public transportation within the city, but also carpool, taxi, a train ticket to Tampere or parking fees in the city centre.

Few want to own their own car in future, when everything can be shared. If one wishes to travel from Puotila to Pukinmäki, the "route planner" of 2025 will provide information on where to change the city bike for a car due to impending rain, in addition to information on the fastest connection.

The City of Helsinki believes in the model so strongly that it plans to test it at the turn of the year with a few major employers in Vallila. Employers are being persuaded to join in by building a platform that enables employees to buy transportation services with their own funds.

Later, the experiment will also cover Kalasatama, or another new area."
cars  helsinki  transportationn  transit  mobility  urban  urbanism  finland  2014 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Elevated Child Poverty: A Capitalist Problem | Demos
"The way capitalist market institutions distribute the national income is hostile to child-rearing. This is so for at least two reasons.

First, adding a child to your family increases the amount of income your family needs, including the amount it needs to be above poverty. But capitalist institutions do not respond to this need by distributing more income to families as they add more children, which is what sensible child-friendly and family-friendly distributive institutions would do.

Second, capitalist institutions distribute the least amount of money to workers who are at the normal age of child-having. Left to their devices, then, capitalist institutions will always have child poverty rates that are much higher than the overall poverty rate.

Indeed, we see that in the US. In 2012, the official child poverty rate was 21.8 percent, while the overall poverty rate was 15 percent. This is a child-to-overall poverty ratio of 1.45, which indicates that children are 45 percent more likely to be in poverty than the population in general.

I've written about these basic anti-family problems with market distributive institutions before. [http://www.demos.org/blog/5/20/14/child-allowance-market-failure-corrective ] Since then, I've tried to think of clever ways to illustrate my point with data. I am still working on that for the first point. Here, I attempt to illustrate the second point that capitalist income life-cycles feed elevated child poverty rates.

Life-Cycle Effect

The life-cycle effect argument is pretty straightforward and obvious once you consider it. People have children when they are young. People receive the lowest amount of market income when they are young. Their incomes then go up later on in life when they receive promotions and raises and whatnot.

I figured that, if this was true, it would also mean that the youngest children have the highest child poverty rates and the oldest have the lowest child poverty rates. This is because (given parenting norms surrounding child spacing and such) the parents of older children are, on average, older as well, meaning they are deeper into their income life-cycle. All else equal, a family with a 15-year-old child in it has had more years to receive promotions and raises than a family with a newborn (obviously sometimes these families overlap, but not typically).

Using the latest 5-year American Community Survey (5% population sample), I calculated the poverty rate for every age from 0 to 17. This was the result: [graph]

As you can see, the rates move exactly as you'd expect. At age 0, 25.5 percent of children are in poverty. So, one in four children are born into poverty. At age 1, it inches up a little to 25.8%. I suspect it ticks slightly up instead of down for reasons related to determining the poverty status of a family in the prior 12 months when their kid is less than 12 months old. From there it's down, down, down as the the parents and kids get older and older. At age 15, the child poverty rate bottoms out at 18.2%. At age 16 and 17, you see upticks again, which is likely because 16 is the age at which the Census will categorize you as an adult if you move out, meaning your poverty status will be determined by your own income and not the income of your parents.

So from age 1 to age 15, child poverty rates fall a whopping 30%. This is because of income life-cycles, which are an artifact of the way market institutions distribute income.

Some takeaways:

1. Blaming parents for the anti-family consequences of capitalist distributive institutions doesn't make much sense. When child poverty rates fall 30 percent over the life cycle, that's an income distribution problem. Moreover, the 30 percent figure can mislead. It's not as if the remaining 70 percent who are impoverished at age 15 were also impoverished at age 0. People move in and out of poverty a lot. Half of all adults will spend at least one year in it.

2. This is utterly crazy from a child development viewpoint. Child poverty in general is, but this particular pattern of it especially. We distribute the least amount of income to people right when their kids are at their crucial development stage. If you are going to throw some kids into poverty, you'd much rather it be the older ones than the younger ones. Capitalist institutions do the reverse.

3. Child benefit programs, like the child tax credit and personal exemption, that pay more benefits to those with higher incomes are similarly crazy. In addition to just broadly giving more benefits to richer families than poorer families, they also end up giving more money to families with older children than younger children for these life-cycle reasons. Yet, younger children are in more need of the money (because they are much more likely to be poor) and it is more important for child development reasons that younger children have it. One way to fix this issue is to have a universal child allowance where families with children aged 0-5 get more benefits than those with children aged 5-17.

4. This is not just about poverty. The fact is that all parents, even those not in poverty, are going to face a similar life-cycle income issue wherein they have the lowest incomes when their kids are young and highest when they are old. This is also bad and counter to everything we know about child development. This makes the case again for a universal child allowance, perhaps with a higher benefit level for young children than old children.

5. The only solution is non-market income supplements of some sort. You are not going to be able to get capitalist firms to pay entry-level workers (aka parents of young children) more money. Nor are you going to force them to pay parents more than single workers. No amount of coaxing or manipulating the market will eliminate the Child Poverty Premium as I think I will begin calling it.

Conclusion

In closing, I thought it might be useful to compare the child-to-overall poverty ratios globally using disposable income (so income that includes child benefits and the like). Here are the best 5:

1. Finland - 0.53
2. Denmark - 0.62
3. Korea - 0.64
4. Norway - 0.68
5. Sweden - 0.68

As you can see, it's the usual suspects plus Korea. In Finland, children are about half as likely to be poor as the overall population. This is because it has a robust network of family benefits. Same with the other usual suspects."
poverty  childpoverty  2014  mattbruenig  capitalism  economics  childdevelopment  us  finland  denmark  korea  norway  sweden 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Homeschooling and Finnish education :: Zengestrom
"Sahlberg’s reader will conclude that a great school is small, led by highly educated teachers who are free to do things their way, has short days and issues little homework. It relies on parents and other people who help the children learn to read early. When a child has difficulty learning something – which happens to many at some point – they get help from a specialized teacher without being stigmatized. Plus, everybody there benefits from well-designed spaces and good food.

To Sahlberg the key challenge now is personal media. Because children spend so much time on their screens, teachers find they are harder to reach. They read fewer books on their own and their learning is out of synch with their peers. Hence, more effort is required from teachers to engage each individual student. But schools are getting larger and as the kids get older, they become even less engaged and more dissatisfied. They no longer see any reason to be in class. They use their devices to access information and to communicate.

Sahlberg’s answer, which he calls the Big Dream, is school as a safe community where children are free to pursue their interests, learn more diverse things, and discover their unique talents. In the future he paints, classroom-based teaching gives way to customized, activity-based learning:
Rather than continue thinking of future schooling in terms of subjects and time allocations to them, the time is right now to make a bold move and rethink the organization of time in schools. This would mean having less time allocated to conventional subjects, such as mother tongue, mathematics, and science, and more time for integrated themes, projects, and activities.

He continues:
This would also mean a shift from common curriculum-baed teaching to individual learning-plan-based education. This would lead to extended time for all students to spend engaged in personally meaningful workshops, projects, and the arts.

Sounds a lot like homeschooling."

[Also posted here: http://sesatschool.blogspot.com/2013/12/can-homeschoolers-learn-from-finlands.html ]
yrizenhestrom  finland  education  homeschool  unschooling  schools  schooling  policy  small  pasisahlberg  2013  teaching  learning  autonomy  literacy  equality  children 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Microsoft made a secret book for Nokia employees before its takeover | The Verge
In the months leading up to Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s phone business, the two compa"nies approached Shoreditch-based media company TCOLondon to secretly build a unique book for the nearly 20,000 Nokia employees set to join Microsoft. The 128-page book was edited and illustrated in London before being printed and shipped to employees in more than 90 cities in 53 countries.

It’s a celebration of the rich history that Nokia and Microsoft both share, including etchings of Nokia’s origins in a paper mill in Finland and Microsoft’s roots in New Mexico. Illustrations range from the first-ever GSM call to surgeons using the Kinect sensor for operations. Nokia and Microsoft approached TCOLondon in mid-December, with the original plan to have the book ready and finished for February 1st. A later-than-expected acquisition meant the book was delivered to employees at the deal closure in late April. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella even visited Finland to present a copy of the “One” book to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. Here are some of the many illustrations inside the 128 pages."
books  design  nokia  finland  microsoft  bookdesign  illustration  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: The Supply of Good Jobs Does Not Automatically Expand to Match the Number of Educated Citizens
"Matt Bruenig nails it:
Education boosters bizarrely think that providing everyone a high-quality education will somehow magically result in them all having good-paying jobs. But, as Finland shows, this turns out not to be true. Apparently, it’s not possible for everyone to simultaneously hold jobs as well-paid upper-class professionals because at least some people have to actually do real work. A modern economy requires a whole army of lesser-skilled jobs that just don’t pay that well and the necessity of those jobs doesn’t go away simply because people are well-educated.

The reason Finland’s ultimate distribution of income is so equal is not because its great education system has made everyone receive high paychecks (an impossible task), but because Finland has put in place distributive policies that make sure its national income is shared broadly. In 2010, Finland’s tax level was 42.5 percent of its GDP, which was nearly double the tax level of the U.S. By strategically spreading that tax money around through a host of cash transfer and benefit programs, Finland’s high market poverty rate of 32.2 percent fell to just 7.3 percent. Its child poverty rate, which Finland focuses extra attention on, fell down to 3.9 percent. Overall economic inequality took a similar dive.

This is so obvious that it is hard to figure out how so many apparently smart people can't grasp it. The only explanation that I can come up with is that for a lot of prominent commentators, wonks and politicians, low paying jobs and the people who hold them are simply an abstraction."

[Direct link to the Bruenig article: http://www.salon.com/2014/05/12/americas_dangerous_education_myth_no_it_isnt_the_best_anti_poverty_program/ ]
economics  finland  poverty  education  socialism  2014  tomhoffman  policy  taxes  politics  work  labor 
may 2014 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Essay: 'Designing Finnishness', for 'Out Of The Blue: The Essence and Ambition of Finnish Design' (Gestalten)
"Knowing what to do when there is nothing to do
"The press conference is over, and in comes Jari Litmanen, from behind the door. And I looked at his face and I looked at his eyes, and I recognised something in those eyes. And I thought, this is a man with a great willpower. Because he was not shy, not timid, but he was modest. He is not a man who will raise his voice, or bang with his fist on the table and say, ‘We do it this way.’ No, he was more of a diplomat, not wanting to be a leader, but being a leader." [Former AFC Ajax team manager David Endt, on legendary Finnish footballer Jari Litmanen]

Finland has proven that it can take care of itself locally and globally. At home, its sheer existence is a tribute to fortitude, guile and determination, never mind the extent to which it has lately thrived. Globally, through Nokia, Kone, Rovio and others, through its diplomatic and political leadership, and through its design scene in general, it has punched well above its weight. Having been a reluctant leader, like Litmanen, will Finland once again step up to help define a new age, a post-industrial or re-industrial age? Unlike 1917, there are few obvious external drivers to force Finns to define Finnishness. So where will the desire for change come from?

Finland, and Finnishness, is not immune to the problems facing other European countries; the Eurocrisis, domestic xenophobia, industrial strife. Challenging these is difficult for an engineering culture not yet used to working with uncertainty, and in collaboration.

That requires this sense of openness to ambiguity, to non-planning, which is quite unlike the traditional mode of Finnishness. And yet there are also valuable cues in Finnishness, such as in the design—or undesign, as Leonard Koren would have it—of Finnish sauna culture.
"Making nature really means letting nature happen, since nature, the ultimate master of interactive complexity, is organized along principles too inscrutable for us to make from scratch. … Extraordinary baths … are created by natural geologic processes or by composers of sensory stimulation working in an intuitive, poetic, open-minded—undesign—manner." (Koren, ibid.)

Equally, the päiväkoti day-care system demonstrates a learning environment built with an agile structure that can follow where children wish to lead. The role of expertise—and every teacher in Finnish education is a highly-qualified expert—is not to control or enforce a national curriculum, but to react, shape, nurture and inspire. As such it could be a blueprint not only for education generally, but also for developing a culture comfortable with divergent learning, with exploration and experiment, with a broader social and emotional range, and with ambiguity.

Chess grandmaster Savielly Tartakower once said “Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do, strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.” Indeed, Finland's early development was driven by tactics—survival, consolidation and then growth in the face of a clear set of "things to do"; defeat the conditions, resist the neighbours, rebuild after war.

With that, came success, comfort and then perhaps the inevitable lack of drive. The country is relatively well off and stable, and perhaps a little complacent given the recent accolades.

Design in recent years has seen a shift towards the ephemeral and social—interaction design, service design, user experience design, strategic design and so on. Conversely, there has been a return to the physical, albeit altered and transformed by that new modernity, with that possibility of newly hybrid “things”: digital/physical hybrids possessing a familiar materiality yet allied with responsiveness, awareness, and character by virtue of having the internet embedded within. With its strong technical research sector, and expertise in both materials and software, Finland is well-placed. Connect the power of its nascent nanotech research sector—interestingly, derived from its expertise with wood—to a richer Finnish design culture capable of sketching social objects, social services and social spaces and its potential becomes tangible, just as with the 1930s modernism that fused the science and engineering of the day with design in order to produce Artek.

Finnish design could be stretched to encompass these new directions, the aforementioned reversals towards openness, ambiguity, sociality, flexibility and softness. Given that unique DNA of Finnishness — both designed and undesigned, both old and young—Finland is at an interesting juncture.

The next phase, then, is knowing what to do, despite the appearance of not having anything to do.

Buckminster Fuller, a guest at Sitra's first design-led event at Helsinki’s Suomenlinna island fortress in 1968, once said “the best way to predict the future is to design it.” Finland has done this once before; it may be that now is exactly the right time to do it again."
finland  2014  design  danhill  cityofsound  sitra  buckminsterfuller  education  strategy  culture  exploration  experimentation  ambiguity  emergentcurriculumeurope  undesign  leonardkoren  nature  complexity  simplicity  davidendt  jarilitmanen  unproduct  efficiency  inefficiency  clarity  purity  small  slow  sisu  solitude  silence  barnraising  helsinki 
may 2014 by robertogreco
verstas architects develop progressive saunalahti school
"‘saunalahti comprehensive school’ built by finnish practice verstas architects, has been designed to provide a progressive educational environment, placing a special emphasis on new ways of learning; encouraging interaction, discussion and collaboration. furthermore, the building caters for the region’s residents, providing a public library, gym and various workshops open at evenings and weekends."
finland  architecture  schools  schooldesign  education  2013  openstudioproject  lcproject 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Kokoro & Moi – Your ninjas on the ceiling
"Well hello. We are a full-service creative agency transforming brands with bold ideas and progressive concepts. Our focus is on strategy, identity and design."



"Kokoro & Moi, established in 2001, is a full-service creative agency transforming brands with bold ideas and progressive concepts. Our focus is on strategy, identity and design.

The mindset? We are always asking questions, challenging norms and piecing together new worlds to solve tasks in unique ways. It's a playground out there, so let's play with what we can with no preconceptions. In a world overloaded with messages, we use the power of design to help our clients stand out.

We create authentic and innovative strategies, craft imaginative solutions and make an impact in the required media – from print and digital to products and environments. There's always a way. However we define it here, each case is unique and a collaboration. We've worked alongside a broad and international range of commercial players, from multinationals to start-ups as well as a variety of cultural and public institutions.

This is how we intend to continue – setting the standard, then continuing to evolve it.


Our Services

1) Strategy
Positioning, Brand Architecture, Brand & Communication Strategy, Brand & Concept Development

2) Identity
Naming, Visual Identity, Art Direction, Tone of Voice & Storytelling

3) Design
Print, Digital & Interactive, Spaces & Environments, Events & Exhibitions, Editorial & Publishing, Products & Packaging, Signage & Wayfinding, Consultancy & Curation"
kokoro&moi  finland  graphic  design  graphicdesign  strategy  identity  branding 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Inspirations from Iceland: Reflections on the USA | Linda F. Nathan
"Imagine a land where pre-school education is guaranteed. Think of music teachers in most elementary schools and choirs in most secondary schools. Imagine a noticeable cleanliness of the hallways and classrooms. In many schools shoes aren’t worn inside because the staff doesn’t want the raw winter weather ruining the floors and making everything filthy. Imagine Iceland.

This Scandinavian country’s educators are thinking constructively about student engagement—through the arts and vocational education. Iceland, like the rest of Scandinavia, is not obsessed with standardized testing."
iceland  education  finland  schools  publicschools  2014  teaching  learning  standardizedtesting  testing  arts  art  vocationaleducation  us 
april 2014 by robertogreco
What These American Educators Learned in Finland | Diane Ravitch's blog
"Naturally, as educators we found Finnish schools to be very attractive, and yet we never lost our faith in the American public schools that had prepared us- the very schools to which we had also dedicated our professional lives. Quite plainly, the successes we saw in Finland should occur in the United States. Not only that, we were made aware that the entire design and implementation of the Finnish school system was based on American education research! As a matter of fact, the United States generates eighty percent of the research in education worldwide. If American education research is a good enough to base the design of one of the very most successful public education systems in the world, why is it not good enough to use in the United States? Furthermore, if we had the answers in the United States, why were we traveling to Finland to find our own answers?"
finland  education  schools  publicschools  us  policy  research  dianeravitch  2014  via:tom.hoffman 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Finnish Education Chief: 'We Created a School System Based on Equality' - Christine Gross-Loh - The Atlantic
"We used to have a system which was really unequal. My parents never had a real possibility to study and have a higher education. We decided in the 1960s that we would provide a free quality education to all. Even universities are free of charge. Equal means that we support everyone and we’re not going to waste anyone’s skills. We don’t know what our kids will turn out like—we can’t know if one first-grader will become a famous composer, or another a famous scientist. Regardless of a person’s gender, background, or social welfare status, everyone should have an equal chance to make the most of their skills. It’s important because we are raising the potential of the entire human capital in Finland. Even if we don’t have oil or minerals or any other natural resources, well, we think human capital is also a valuable resource."



"We created a school system based on equality to make sure we can develop everyone’s potential. Now we can see how well it’s been working. Last year the OECD tested adults from 24 countries measuring the skill levels of adults aged 16-65, on a survey called the PIAAC (Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies), which tests skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. Finland scored at or near the top on all measures. But there were differences between age groups. The test showed that all younger Finns who had had a chance to go to compulsory basic school after the reforms had extremely high knowledge; those who were older, and who were educated before the reforms, had average know-how. So, our educational system is creating people who have extremely good skills and strong know-how—a know-how which is created by investing into education. We have small class sizes and everyone is put in the same class, but we support struggling students more than others, because those individuals need more help. This helps us to be able to make sure we can use/develop everyone’s skills and potential."



"Academics isn’t all kids need. Kids need so much more. School should be where we teach the meaning of life; where kids learn they are needed; where they can learn community skills. We like to think that school is also important for developing a good self-image, a strong sensitivity to other people’s feelings … and understanding it matters to take care of others. We definitely want to incorporate all those things in education.

I also believe that breaking up the school day with different school subjects is very important. We offer a variety of subjects during the school day. We’re also testing out what it’s like to have breaks in the middle of the school day for elementary school students. At a few elementary schools recently we’ve been offering sports, handcrafts, or school clubs during the middle of the school day, rather than just in the morning or after school as we already do. This is to help kids to think of something else, and do something different and more creative during the day. "
finland  education  schools  poverty  professionaldevelopment  2014  kristakiuru  vocationaltraining  arts  autonomy  teaching  learning  policy  equality  equity  publicschools  howwelearn  howweteach 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Moomins in November: Tove Jansson's Escapist Magic : The New Yorker
"In 1915, a mother makes a sketch of her one-year-old daughter’s hands. “Look what beautiful hands, one flat, with outstretched fingers, one with a clenched fist,” she notes. The hands were to be key, as they belonged to Tove Jansson. Jansson was born in Helsinki, and spent most of her life there and on islands in the Pellinge archipelago, in the Gulf of Finland. On top of producing the nine Moomin books—about the adventures of a family of buoyant, good-hearted creatures that look like upright hippos—she painted, drew a Moomin comic strip, illustrated children’s classics and her own stand-alone picture books, and wrote fiction for adults. (As Damion Searls wittily observed in Harper’s Magazine, “It is rather as though Jonathan Franzen not only admired Charles Schulz but was Charles Schulz, retired from comic strips and deciding to try his hand at a family novel.”) But the anecdote of the sketched hands, one flat and one clenched, also heralds a conflict. In Jansson’s narratives, whether tilted to children or adults, a debate can be felt rustling under the surface: it’s between voices that speak for the open hand of compromise and diplomacy and those that see the truth as naked or nothing, wills that would rather do whatever the hell they like."



"Jansson’s parents were two recognized, Swedish-speaking artists, the sculptor Viktor Jansson and the illustrator Signe Hammarsten. (The latter’s sculpting plans were sacrificed to family—instead, she merely designed more than two hundred postage stamps.) Home was continuous with studio, at night filled with music and the couple’s creative friends. While freedom exists in principle, when you grow up in such a setting, and one of your family pets is a monkey named Poppolino, chances are you will become an artist yourself."



"As for relationship stuff, “Tove Jansson” naturally goes into that. Jansson was taken with men and women, came close to marrying, and found lasting love with the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä. (She is the basis for Too-ticky in the Moomin stories, while the couple’s shared working life underpins “Fair Play.”) The evidence points to nothing simple, yet does suggest that Jansson’s adult view of her father’s role in the family, combined with “the utterly hellish war years,” came to affect her outlook on the male sex as a whole: “Of course I’m sorry for them and of course I like them, but I’ve no intention of devoting my whole life to a performance I’ve seen through … A men’s war!” These words, which I’ve abridged for space, were written as the Continuation War, between Finland and the Soviet Union, dug in. Part of the Second World War and strangely its own affair, the conflict saw Finland accepting help from Germany. Jansson, whose best-known cartoons were aimed at Hitler, couldn’t abide her father’s politics—he had fought against the Bolshevist side in the civil war during his youth, and stood by Germany as a liberator—nor his private anti-Semitism.

Writing the Moomins afforded an escape at war’s end. After a quiet start, the series took off in the fifties, bringing welcome financial stability—but the success also represented a kind of detour. Jansson’s ambitions for painting never left her. Now free time was scarce, thanks to an unceasing flow of fan mail, the minutiae of merchandising, processions of visitors, and, until Lars, one of her brothers, took over, the arduous demands of the comic strip. For a while, there was no pleasure to be found in working. Thankfully, social media didn’t exist yet: “I could vomit over Moomintroll,” she wrote. “I shall never again be able to write about those happy idiots who forgive one another and never realize they’re being fooled.”"
tovejansson  finland  families  art  design  writing  compromise  diplomacy  tuulikkipietilä  moomin 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Education in the Age of Globalization » Reading the PISA Tea Leaves: Who Is Responsible for Finland’s Decline and the Asian Magic
"While the East Asian systems may enjoy being at the top of international tests, they are not happy at all with the outcomes of their education. They have recognized the damages of their education for a long time and have taken actions to reform their systems. Recently, the Chinese government again issued orders to lesson student academic burden by reducing standardized tests and written homework in primary schools. The Singaporeans have been working reforming its curriculum and examination systems. The Koreans are working on implementing a “free semester” for the secondary students. Eastern Asian parents are willing and working hard to spend their life’s savings finding spots outside these “best” education systems. Thus international schools, schools that follow the less successful Western education model, have been in high demand and continue to grow in East Asia. Tens of thousands of Chinese and Korean parents send their children to study in Australia, the U.K., Canada, and the U.S. It is no exaggeration to say that that the majority of the parents in China would send their children to an American school instead of keeping them in the “best performing” Chinese system, if they had the choice.

The East Asian education systems may have a lot to offer to those who want a compliant and homogenous test takers. For those who are looking for true high quality education, Finland would still be a better place. But for an education that can truly cultivate creative, entrepreneurial and globally competent citizens needed in the 21st century, you will have to invent it. Global benchmarking can only give you the best of the past. For the best of the future, you will have do the invention yourself."
yongzhao  standardizedtesting  pisa  china  korea  finland  globalization  canada  us  australia  testing  2013  education  schools  learning 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Secret to Finland's Success With Schools, Moms, Kids—and Everything - Olga Khazan - The Atlantic
"So what about education reform, then? Finnish school expert Pasi Sahlberg has written that Finnish schools are based on "improving the teaching force, limiting student testing to a necessary minimum, and placing responsibility and trust before accountability."

It's true that Finnish teachers design their own curricula and don't have to deal with test-score-based evaluations, but school officials there are also placing young minds in very well-equipped hands: All teachers have graduate degrees in education and their subject areas of expertise. And schools are funded based on need, so the most struggling schools get the most resources. There is no "Teach for Finland," as Sahlberg has said.

But in some ways, even the Finnish way of educating requires a strong welfare system as a foundation. The country has an extremely low child-poverty rate, which likely makes teaching without testing or score-keeping much easier. And how many American teachers would love to get a master's degree but aren't willing to take on the student loans that come with it?

"The easiest [explanation] is to say that Finland seems to be a well-performing system overall, as far as the international rankings are considered," Sahlberg told me. "So, it is no wonder the education system also works well."

The no-testing model also makes sense for a culture that's low on one-upmanship: "I think one of the more important things is that there's less of an emphasis on competition in Finland," Marakowitz said. "Many Finnish children don't know how to read before they go to school, and you need a certain kind of cultural setting for that. Some U.S. parents would be quite freaked out.""
finland  us  education  happiness  politics  policy  socialdemocracy  pasisahlberg  welfare  socialsafetynet  community  socialism 
july 2013 by robertogreco
BBC News - Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes
"For 75 years, Finland's expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It's like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world's lowest infant mortality rates."
babies  culture  finland  parenting  2013  infantmortality  cardboard  health  healthcare  society  mothers  children  priorities 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Amanda Ripley: Ask the kids on Vimeo
"Amanda Ripley is an investigative journalist who writes about human behavior and public policy. For Time Magazine and the Atlantic, she has chronicled the stories of American kids and teachers alongside groundbreaking new research into education reform. “Kids have strong opinions about school. We forget as adults how much time they sit there contemplating their situation.”"
amandaripley  journalism  education  us  finland  korea  southkorea  poland  comparison  pisa  2012  schools  schooling  poverty  math  science 
february 2013 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Journal: Fabrica
"a type of school, or studio, or commercial practice, or research centre. Fabrica, hovering between all these things yet resisting the urge to fall into becoming any one of them, is perhaps genuinely without parallel. This makes it a little tricky to explain, but this ability to avoid pigeonholes is also to its credit."

"hybrid organisation—part communications research centre…but also part arts and design school, part think-thank, part studio. My kind of place."

"While I might occasionally characterise Fabrica as the pugnacious upstart, or startup, whose agility might challenge the established institutions, it’s clear we also have a lot to learn from the likes of the exemplary creative centres like the RCA, and from Paul in particular. His experience across the Design Museum, Cooper Hewitt and the RCA will be invaluable, and he’s beginning to draw together a great advisory board. Watch that space. I’m also exploring various newer models for learning environments, from Strelka and CIID to MIT Media Lab and School of Everything, alongside the centres of excellence like the RCA and others. My father and mother, more of an influence on me than perhaps even they realise, were both educators and learning environments and cultures may well be in my DNA, to some degree."

"…the other idea that I’m incredibly interested in pursuing at Fabrica is that of the trandisciplinary studio."

"With this stew of perspectives at hand, we might find project teams that contain graphic designers, industrial designers, neuroscientists, coders, filmmakers, for instance. Or product design, data viz, sociology, photography, economics, architecture and interaction design, for instance. These small project teams are then extremely well-equipped to tackle the kind of complex, interdependent challenges we face today, and tomorrow. We know that new knowledge and new practice—new ideas and new solutions—emerges through the collision of disciplines, at the edges of things, when we’re out of our comfort zone. Joi Ito, at the MIT Media Lab, calls this approach “anti-disciplinary”."

"And living in Treviso, a medieval walled Middle European city, our new home gives me another urban form to explore, after living in the Modern-era Social Democratic Nordic City of Helsinki, the Post-Colonial proto-Austral-Asian Sprawl of Sydney, the contemporary globalised city-state of London, and the revolutionary industrial, and then post-industrial, cities of the north of England."
1994  australia  uk  finland  venice  helsinki  london  sydney  domus  josephgrima  danielhirschmann  bethanykoby  technologywillsaveus  tadaoando  alessandrobenetton  rca  schoolofeverything  strelkainstitute  joiito  medialab  mitmedialab  ciid  paulthompson  nontechnology  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  marcosteinberg  jocelynebourgon  culturalconsumption  culturalproduction  code  darkmatter  fabricafeatures  livewindows  colors  andycameron  richardbarbrook  californianideology  discourse  sitra  italy  treviso  helsinkidesignlab  benetton  culture  culturaldiversity  socialdiversity  diversity  decisionmaking  sharedvalue  economics  obesity  healthcare  demographics  climatechange  research  art  design  studios  lcproject  learning  education  2012  antidisciplinary  transdisciplinary  cityofsound  danhill  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
The Global Search for Education: A Look at a Finnish School | Education News
"What percentage of the children read at their grade level or higher?

In Finland, we don’t categorize children according to their reading skills.  In each class we have children with varying abilities and talents.  So does this class in the Aurora School.  Teaching is adjusted to serve the different abilities in the classroom.

[Photo with caption] CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENT DISORDERS OR OTHER DISABILITIES ARE PLACED IN THE SAME CLASS WITH ALL OTHER PUPILS

What percentage of the children can do math at their grade level or higher?

In Finland, we monitor pupils’ learning achievement at the national level only using sample-based tests.  We don’t have data available that would allow us to answer that question.  In our city, we know that our pupils, on average, are a little bit above the national average based on these sample-based tests.  The Aurora School has been in the sample and the school has performed at a good level in the city of Espoo."
leadership  control  curriculum  standarization  standardizedtesting  testing  pasisahlberg  howweteach  learning  teaching  schools  2012  tracking  abilitygrouping  grouping  education  finland  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Finland is about to start using crowdsourcing to create new laws — European technology news
"Tech-driven democracy fans in other countries may not find the environment as conducive to crowdsourced legislation right now, but on the other hand they just got themselves a model to study. If crowdsourced legislation is going to work anywhere, Finland would be the right place for it to happen."
lawmaking  law  politics  crowdsourcing  democracy  via:tealtan  finland  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Data Cuisine | Exploring food as a form of data expression
"Have you ever tried to imagine how a fish soup tastes whose recipe is based on publicly available local fishing data? Or what a pizza would be like if it was based on Helsinki’s population mix? Data cuisine explores food as a means of data expression - or, if you like – edible diagrams."
opendata  finland  2012  srg  cooking  gustatorization  gustatory  dataexpression  helsinki  datacuisine  data  food  jenlowe 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Low2No smart services workbook - Low2No
"This work often involves positioning these otherwise technology-led areas in a more human-centred, and behaviour-oriented, framework — getting well beyond the hype about "smart cities" — whilst also trying to connect it to business drivers (the lack of the latter has hampered pretty much any serious progress in smart cities.)

A particular approach has been a focus on active rather than passive citizens. Too often such technologies can suggest an automation of processes without thinking through the behavoiural implications."

"Note: these print-on-demand books are designed to be updated. This is actually version 2, as you will note. So it is explicitly "work in progress", and that should serve as a caveat. (This was the first time we'd tried this approach, which we took further with the Helsinki Street Eats book: here, and discussed here.)"
customerjourney  finland  helsinki  helsinkistreeteats  smartservices  howto  activecitizens  human-centered  urbanism  urban  smartcities  personalinformatics  low2no  deliverables  methods  methodology  unbook  2010  2012  danhill  sitra  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
Walking tour of Helsinki's architecture | Travel | The Observer
"Design is to Helsinki as literature is to Dublin and samba is to Rio. It is simply a cultural manifestation of the national character, and Finns are sensible, detail-oriented people. Apart from the great Alvar Aalto, few Finnish designers or architects are widely known outside their own country. But to Finns themselves, designers such as Tapio Wirkkala and Ilmari Tapiovaara are household names. Their furniture from the 1940s and 1950s – once inexpensive, hard-wearing everyday items that now count as collectible classics – is still passed down from generation to generation.

Beyond simple, perfect objects, Finns have an innate sense of the role design can play in society. How many countries can you think of that make design a matter of government policy? Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, uses designers to address issues from sustainability to education. Let's just say they take their design pretty seriously."
artek  marimekko  cheltenham  bertramgoodhue  secondglances  stevenholl  jugend  walking  cities  worlddesigncapital  alvaraalto  architecture  2012  policy  sitra  design  finland  helsinki 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Åh
"Åh [o:h] is a platform for creative collaboration between Johanna Lundberg and Elin Svensson. From 2008 to spring 2012, it served as a studio practice for the two designers, producing award winning work from art direction to illustration, publications, branding, stationery and websites.

Their clients include The Architecture Foundation, Financial Times, The Finnish Institute in London, Grafik Magazine, The Guardian, Helsinki Arts Initiative, kulör, Newly Drawn, OK Do, Time Out Magazine and YCN.

As well as continuing together in a collaborative capacity, Johanna and Elin are now pursuing projects individually in the fields of design and illustration. To discuss potential projects, please contact either one"
finland  okdo  graphicdesign  Åh  johannalundberg  elinsvensson  uk  webdesign  typography  illustration  design  webdev  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Q&A
"Q&A is a project-based alliance between four Helsinki practices. Operating in the fields of design, strategy, architecture and art, they come together for multifaceted commissions and initiatives, to ask and propose."
q&a  laurijohansson  prototo  marttikalliala  villetikka  wevolve  jennasutela  okdo  strategy  designthinking  architecture  art  design  finland  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
(Post)Material - Q&A
"(Post)Material is a three-day event that proposes questions and answers for contemporary design practice operating across the wildly varying dynamics of atoms, bits and ideas. Curated by Q&A;, a joint effort between four Helsinki-based design and research studios, and facilitated by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, the event brings together an assemblage of practitioners and academics in a daily talk show at WantedDesign, The Tunnel (11th ave b/w 27th & 28th) on May 19–21, 2.30 pm–4.00 pm every day.

“We tend to talk of the ‘information age’ without realizing that the future is as much about energy and materials as it is about information,” postulated Manuel De Landa in 1994. From design’s perspective, could this historical point in time—a resource-hungry industrial epoch rapidly nearing its expiry date—be defined as the ‘(post)material’ age?"
kokoro&moi  (Post)Material  materials  sustainability  information  volume  clog  teemusuviala  kylemay  roryhyde  okdo  jennasutela  kivisotamaa  cmmnwlth  zoecoombes  seungholee  dong-pingwong  colleenmacklin  finland  sitra  bryanboyer  prototo  marttikalliala  wevolve  villetikka  manueldelanda  designthinking  design  energy  postmaterial  nyc  2012  events  q&a  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post
"In the United States, education is mostly viewed as a private effort leading to individual good. The performances of individual students and teachers are therefore in the center of the ongoing school reform debate. By contrast, in Finland, education is viewed primarily as a public effort serving a public purpose. As a consequence, education reforms in Finland are judged more in terms of how equitable the system is for different learners. This helps to explain the difference between the American obsession with standardized testing and the Finnish fixation on each school’s ability to cope with individual differences and social inequality. The former is driven by excellence, the latter by equity."
via:tom.hoffman  us  finland  equity  equality  inequality  poverty  policy  education  standardizedtesting  society  socialinequity  differentiation  standardization  2012  politics  mindset  edreform 
april 2012 by robertogreco
COMPANY
"COMPANY IS AAMU SONG & JOHAN OLIN. COMPANY work as artists, designers, and producers, running their own shop in Helsinki."

[See also: http://com-pa-ny.com/products/tanssipage.html AND http://com-pa-ny.com/at_moment.html AND http://www.wowsan.com/?p=872 AND http://www.salakauppa.fi/ ]
architecture  clothing  wearables  glvo  finland  johanolin  aamusong  art  helsinki  fashion  design  wearable 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Salakauppa (Secret Shop)
"Salakauppa (Secret shop) is Company's little dream come true in the center of Helsinki. All products in Salakauppa are designed by Aamu Song & Johan Olin of Company and are manufactured by our dearest factory friends in Finland, Belgium and Korea. For us design means celebrating the brilliant traditional skills and genuine materials. Welcome."

[See also: http://com-pa-ny.com/ ]
wearables  clothing  design  belgium  korea  johanolin  aamusong  salakauppa  finland  helsinki  wearable 
february 2012 by robertogreco
SUOMEN SALAT / Top secrets of Finland | Finnish national gallery webshop
"'Documentation of an exhibition with a smooth blend of fine art and crafts, museum and shopping. The designer duo Company (Aamu Song and Johan Olin) brought Finnish design up to date with original innovations, humour and 100% usability, without forgetting aesthetic values. 32 pages, fully illustrated.'"
johanolin  aamusong  suomensalat  design  art  books  finland 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Next month, as part of Helsinki’s status as Design... - Mrs Tsk *
"Next month, as part of Helsinki’s status as Design Capital 2012, Marimekko launches a series of guerilla recreations—across Helsinki & online—of the Mari Village, a utopian project (& money sink) started in 1962 by Armi Ratia, the firm’s tough-yet-visionary founder.

Marimekko’s own PR about what this will involve is vague, & doesn’t show any images of the original site, developed in collaboration with the architect Aarno Ruusuvuori. The company certainly doesn’t go into the doubts Armi Ratia had about the village—originally planned to house 3500 inhabitants—or the reasons the plug was pulled in 1966.

My interest piqued by passing references by my friend Jenna Sutela and others, I’ve had to scour obscure PDFs to find the fullest account of the Mari Village, or Marikylä, with its experimental homes. Here’s a series of screenshots of Juhani Pallasmaa’s essay—published in Capitel Art in 1985—The Last Utopia, some images of the Marimekko Sauna System…"
nenetsuboi  history  marimekkosaunasystem  aarnoruusuvuori  helsinki  design  utopia  1985  1966  juhanipallasmaa  marimekko  jennasutela  momus  imomus  finland  armiratia  1962 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Museum of the Near Future 1 - Anni Puolakka, Jenna Sutela, Anna Mikkola (Eds.) - ourpress
"Museum of the Near Future (MNF) is an apparatus for looking sideways at and intervening in urban situations and institutions. It presents itself as social installations—such as literary circles or other temporary communities—which are set up on museum premises. Producing space for imagination and discourse, these parasitic installations attempt to destabilize perceptions of what is possible, and desirable, between the now and the next in a given area.

The first iteration of Museum of the Near Future took place at the Museum of Finnish Architecture’s dormant villa in Helsinki during autumn 2011 and in collaboration with Berlin-based Motto Distribution. MNF I explored micro-political and experimental modes of participation in Helsinki, a city undergoing grand urban transformations, such as its rapid expansion to centrally located former harbour areas or the recent identity-defining missions. Composed of a thematic book society/shop in an underused institutional facility, & involving…"
annamikkola  annipuolakka  jennasutela  pop-upmuseums  pop-upgalleries  situationist  urbanism  urban  lcproject  glvo  social  pop-ups  temporary  participatory  installations  parasiticinstallations  installation  2012  mottodistribution  helsinki  berlin  finland  books  okdo  museumofthenearfuture  museums 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Immerse yourself in the sounds of the Arctic (Wired UK)
"Adams, Plaid and Persen combined the poem with electronic music and the ambisonic field recordings to produce a piece titled Nord Rute -- the first in a four-part collection of performances about indiginous peoples titled The Compass Series, which merge poetry from Valkaeapää, music from Plaid and ambient audio from Adams. Nord Rute is a narrative account of the Sami people's annual migration.

The resulting performance is described as a "three dimensional psycho-acoustic experience" and an "ambisonic narrative evocation". During a performance the floor is covered with reindeer pelts and surrounded by speakers that create a plane of sound within which blindfolded audience members can immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the journey across the frozen wastes. To enhance the experience, there'll be absolutely no heating -- blankets will be provided and schnapps will be served instead."
ambient  surroundsound  ambisonics  rossadams  sháman  korpiklaani  music  singing  joik  yoik  nomadism  nomads  sound  sápmi  russia  finland  sweden  norway  sami  tundra  arctic  2010  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Laboratory — Art Space for Now
"LABORATORY — ART SPACE FOR NOW is a gallery located in the creative heart of Helsinki. Run and curated with love by Finnish photo agency Viewmasters, Laboratory offers exhibitions, experiences and events during the world design capital year. Nothing permanent — Just like the moments of sheer brilliance good photography captures."
pop-upgalleries  viewmasters  photography  artspace  openstudioproject  lcproject  glvo  art  helsinki  finland  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Slot car racing in Finland: What’s great about... | The Kid Should See This.
"Slot car racing in Finland: What’s great about this is not the actual slot car racing (though both co-curators liked that), but the serious benchwork happening to fix and fine tune the cars."

[video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtwkRd6zHwg ]
glvo  edg  srg  expertise  dedication  2010  2012  finetuning  tuning  fixing  craft  passion  slotcarracing  slotcars  finland 
january 2012 by robertogreco
INSPIRE / NEWS & ARTICLES | Design Indaba
"Besides gearing up for World Design Capital 2012, Helsinki is undergoing a food revolution enabled by the temporary, experimental nature of pop-up restaurants."
2012  trends  temporary  pop-uprestaurants  pop-upcafes  restaurants  food  international  finland  helsinki  popup  pop-ups  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success - Anu Partanen - National - The Atlantic
"Yet one of the most significant things Sahlberg said passed practically unnoticed. "Oh," he mentioned at one point, "and there are no private schools in Finland."

This notion may seem difficult for an American to digest, but it's true. Only a small number of independent schools exist in Finland, and even they are all publicly financed. None is allowed to charge tuition fees. There are no private universities, either. This means that practically every person in Finland attends public school, whether for pre-K or a Ph.D.

The irony of Sahlberg's making this comment during a talk at the Dwight School seemed obvious. Like many of America's best schools, Dwight is a private institution that costs high-school students upward of $35,000 a year to attend -- not to mention that Dwight, in particular, is run for profit, an increasing trend in the U.S. Yet no one in the room commented on Sahlberg's statement. I found this surprising. Sahlberg himself did not."
innovation  norway  homogeneity  policy  politics  equity  society  inequality  diversity  equality  democracy  learning  pisa  standardizedtesting  2011  schooling  schools  privatization  pasisahlberg  privateschools  us  education  finland  anupartanen  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
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