It’s no secret that I have become very interested in the Finnish education system over the last little while and on reflection I think there’s a lot about the way they do things that backs up why we chose to home educate. I came across this article in The Atlantic called The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland by Tim Walker. It pretty much encapsulates a lot of my ideas about the need for younger children to have A LOT of free play time and not foisting academics on to them.
Personally I still struggle with letting go of the need to do maths or reading, but I am relaxing more about it the longer we home educate. It’s so ingrained to think that kids need to be taught everything that I am constantly facing my own issues around what I think we should be doing. Some days I win that battle beautifully, other days – not so much!
Sitting here on the fringes of our education system it worries me to see us following the US / GERM model where the need for more ‘accountability’ is based on ideology rather than based on observable facts & research. More testing and more emphasis on the outcome rather than the journey. We are beginning to treat our kids like a commodity – their worth is tied to their test scores !! Really ?!?!
You want to narrow the gap, but you open things up to competition. Ummm, yeah. Not sure how you see that working. Competition & league tables must lead parents to create an imbalance in opportunity through the financial ability to buy in zone. I’m not sure how you can’t see that this increases the gap you are trying to close. A little bit more funding does nothing to even the playing field when you are talking about serious money at one end of the spectrum.
Also, how about instead of screwing your teachers down by making them accountable, you consider lifting them up with professional development and improving the working conditions? Any reasonable business person knows that a successful company is built through happy, engaged and valued staff. If you want to look at schools in a business-like way, which is of course the GERM way. So why are you making things harder rather than easier? Why aren’t you elevating the status of teacher and addressing the training, mentoring and long-term retention. Why aren’t you attracting the best and brightest to the profession, if it’s the teachers who aren’t holding up the standards? As the boss of the school system, perhaps your hiring skills suck and you aren’t actually that great a boss to work for.
It’s all smoke and mirrors, political ideology trumps the needs of the child – and it is one very big reason why we will continue to home educate. Whatever mistakes I make as a parent trying to do this will be outweighed by the positives my kids will gain from having the freedom to focus on what they want to learn and how they want to learn. It’s going to be much better than having them value themselves on the basis of somebody else’s idea of what scores highly in a written test.
I really hope your lovely little school child is that monkey there, or heaven help his self esteem and mental picture of himself !
Apologies for the rant. Whenever I think about this topic it starts to grind my gears. We don’t have to face this because of the path we’ve chosen, but I hate to think of all those lovely little people being told to climb trees when clearly they are much better swimming in the open ocean – and then feeling stink about themselves because they can’t do it. Heartbreaking to think of it !!
For more about the Finnish style, take a look at these videos over at YouTube.
- Finland – Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education
- What if Finland’s Great Teachers Taught in Your Schools?