“Every day we lead the nation into the future with our words and actions simply because we are teaching the future of our nation.” Chipwood, Time to Teach, Time to Learn, ,1999
I recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Pasi Sahlberg speak at the BCSTA Annual General Meeting. Dr. Sahlberg is from Helsinki, Finland and was speaking on “Finnish Lessons; What can BC learn from educational change in Finland?” His presentation helped me to understand why and provided me, as a BC educator some context which explains why Finland continues to score higher than other jurisdictions in international assessments. He also provided me with the opportunity to re3flect and “Dream” as we continue our discussions on Personalized Learning. Some of the “Lessons” Dr. Sahlberg emphasized included:
1. Invent your own way Context and circumstance are different and must be acknowledged when developing our version of “Learning Without Boundaries”. We need to develop our own Coquitlam District Framework and implement in our own effective manner.
2. Personalization In Finland, educators are highly trained, accepted on a par with other professionals and respected for what they accomplish. There are lessons here for all of us. Society and government need to recognize and support the human resources we have in our Education System and find multiple ways to acknowledge and praise the system and personnel much more. We don’t have standardized assessments for the legal or medical system. Should they exist in the educational system?
3. Partnerships Dr. Sahlberg indicated that Finland’s education system is supported strongly by partnerships with municipalities and business companies. From my perspective I think that business companies need to be more active in supporting schools and we have to be more welcoming and open to such partnerships.
4. Youth Activity Dr. Sahlberg indicated that Finnish students do not do a lot of homework. They and their parents belong to organizations that keep them socially and physically busy in the afternoon and evenings. Again, for me, he reinforced my belief that youth, positively engaged in out of school activities and programming, generally perform well in school.
The Finnish education system is built on principles of organization that Andy Hargreaves introduced to us through his “4th Way Framework”. Dr. Sahlberg’s observations of these principles in action are very interesting. I forward my own interpretation of his words for your consideration.
1. Less is more – cover less curriculum and do it better
2. Teaching and learning are different – both need to be understood and supported.
3. Test less and learn more.
4. Learning is different from achievement – concentrate on learning.
5. Educators must focus on responsibility (both as individuals and as school collectives) and less on accountability.
6. Teachers should collaborate frequently and always with purpose.
7. Teachers are professionals and should be treated as such and act appropriately.
8. Always teach with HOPE for the learners.
I was impressed with Dr. Sahlberg and his message and look forward to a discussion of these principles as part of our context. For more information on his background and many presentations please check his website at http://www.pasisahlberg.com
“Hope is not a feeling or a mood, or a personality type. Hope is a choice.” Jim Wallis, The Great Awakening. 2007