We aren't Finland

July 14, 2016

 

Watch the video.

 

No homework and a 20-hour school week? Sounds awesome, sign me up. That’s right in my philosophical wheelhouse; less is more; dispense with the unnecessary. So, why do I cringe when I see these clips turn up in my social media feeds?

 

I have the belief that as educators we tend to overvalue the effectiveness of our pedagogy to teach things that don’t matter. We adopt practices and models, we change strategies and explore taxonomies, all with the intention of improving learning outcomes. Teachers, schools and politicians make knee-jerk reactions to research and statistics – we need more phonics, more science, more history, more Australian history, lets get back to basics, get more technology, use less technology, more coding, social skills, ant-bullying programs, swimming lessons, dancing lessons, movement lessons, meditation, mediations, media studies, legal studies, home economics, entrepreneurialism, handwriting, keyboard skills … you get the picture. I’m not sure any of these things matter. I’m more certain it doesn’t matter how teachers go about teaching them.

 

Listen to the Math teacher (2:28) - happy students, happy children. That’s not an education program – that’s a culture. That doesn’t come from a school, it’s reinforced by a school. It’s not a curriculum. It comes from you. It comes from parents. It comes from a community.

 

Imagine a school in which the first and only priority was to make sure children were happy – not entertained, mind you, not doing whatever they want, but happy – truly happy. What would that look like? How much time does that take? As a parent would you be happy with that curriculum? I’m convinced that any success I’ve had as a teacher has been as direct result in making students happy. I know that right now, the students in my class struggling the most are also the ones who are least happy.

 

No homework on it’s own won’t change anything – shorter school days won’t change anything. Communities considering what they really value in education and empowering their schools to achieve them? That’d help. A culture that values happiness over arbitrary scores and grades? That’d be something.

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Scarcity

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