Thursday, 2 October 2008

Teaching approach (Pia's sharing) - interest and equality

Pia has shared with me her views on the teaching approach in primary schools.

The objective of primary education is to inspire interest, teach students how to learn, help them develop the necessary skills rather than impart too much content. We have seen examples of her approach in Chinese class and the general Chinese learning activities in school. She has also given me the following example in teaching science.

Students are asked to move as if each of them was a water molecule to simulate the process of formation of rain. They would go from ocean as they evaporate, and form clouds in the sky, and then return to the mountains as rain. (You see the word 'mountain' in the photo above) There are various words ‘clouds, mountain, sea’ etc in both Finnish and Chinese in different spots of the school, for the kids to move about and learn the water flow in nature in a very hands-on way. The personal experience was meant to help them understand the theories.

She has also discussed the distinctive emphasis on equality under the Finnish system. They don’t encourage competition, and do not their children because childhood assessments would leave a very big scar on those kids who do not perform well at the start. it would lower their self esteem and hinder their later learning because it would be a frustrating experience. They only start more assessment at grade 10 (which is Form 4 in Hong Kong).

She also emphasises that every student is different. It is not a massive achievement to be able to learn maths faster than others - it is only a difference. Every student should just try to do their best and mind their own progress.

This is what ancient education philosophers used to advocate: 有教無類 (you jiao wu lei - every child should be taught).

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