The African Heritage Foundation (AHF) invites you to attend a two day forum on restructuring education in Barbados for our future development. The AHF is in the process of creating a learning academy ( B.A.A.S.E) that will be operated on an educational system formulated and guided by best case educational systems internationally (as in the case of Finland) and our own creativity and culture. B.A.A.S.E is an acronym for the Barbados Aklebulan Academy for Social Empowerment.
The forum is free and you are invited to register at this link https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-african-heritage-foundation-teachers-working-forum-tickets-29292156629
Let us take a look at Finland.
Some people regard Finnish schools as a utopia, a fairy tale land where teaching is regarded as a dream job by young people, where parents trust in the ability of schools to educate their children to be good human beings, and where political decision-makers all agree on the direction of changes in educational policy.
To other visitors, the Finnish school system is regarded as an oddball swimming against the current of other countries’ education systems, or as a young Hollywood-style rebel. Children do not begin formal education until the age of seven. The school day is shorter, and less homework is set than in other countries. Finnish school children do not spend time sitting lots of tests or exams – the only test that is applied as a universal yardstick is the matriculation exam, which comes at the end of secondary school.
So what is the ‘golden thread’ that runs through the world-famous story of Finnish schools? Why do schoolchildren in Finland outperform their peers in most other countries? Many books and articles around the world have addressed these questions. My own story includes three aspects that address this topic.
The first aspect describes the way Finland has worked over many years to build an excellent educational system based on the principles of equality and fairness for all children. This means that schools are funded according to pupils’ needs; every child has the right to early-childhood education and a secure school environment; all schools pay attention to pupils’ health and well-being; and the curriculum emphasises each individual’s overall growth and learning.
The second aspect is about how teachers in Finnish schools have more time during the school day to interact and collaborate with their colleagues than in most other countries. For example, a typical Finnish teacher working in a secondary school spends much less time teaching per day as their American counterpart. Collaboration among teachers in a school strengthens professional networks and social capital, which many studies have shown to be linked to improving the quality of teaching and learning.
The third aspect of my account describes how play has a central role in Finnish educational concepts about children’s development and learning. Finnish legislation ensures that every hour of teaching must include a quarter-hour for pupils’ own activities. In most schools, these breaks are used by the children for self-directed play. In many other countries, play and other activities during the school day have had to give way to the teaching of reading and maths.
The reason the Finnish education system has become a world leader is not because Finns have managed to improve teaching and learning in schools using the same methods as in other education systems. Some have wondered whether it might be because Finland’s small, homogeneous population has made it easier to implement changes that are difficult to achieve elsewhere. What is true is that Finland has bravely pursued its own path of change, which differs from the paths of other countries.
I often hear terms like ‘persistent’, ‘able to solve fiendish problems’ and ‘moderate diplomats’ to describe Finns and who they are. These characteristics crop up in fictional literature about Finnish people as well as historical works detailing the achievements of great statesmen. Solving the challenges that people face will depend on how well we succeed in guiding each person via the education system to discover their own talent. “For the past fifteen years, Finland has been well ahead of the curve in education,” Sir Ken Robinson wrote in his afterword to my book. He added: “The rest of the world has much to learn from these Finnish Lessons. One of the most important is that this story is still evolving and is far from over.”
This article is made up of excerpts of MINIMALISM IN EDUCATIONAL REFORM from Pasi Sahlberg's blog Finnish education reform
As parents and educators, what progressive steps can be offered to the children of Barbados, to better equip them with the skills required in this changing world?