Saturday, 10 January 2009

Contribution of the education system

The education system promotes the development of interests and pursuit of dreams in these three ways:
A. The system gives students plenty of choice in encouraging their development.

diversity of subjects in the curriculum – broad range of choices for them to dabble in and try out. I have shown just bits of the system really, but one gets the idea that secondary school is like university - students have SO MUCH CHOICE re learning literally what they like.

• the inspiring and liberal teaching approach - "first the forest, then the trees" (see the section on 'interest development' for more details on my discovery!) – Yolanda Chen introduced this concept which I find as well a very accurate description! Basically they show the students the whole picture before going down to details and honing their skills too early.

This encourages the students to explore their own way of learning their subjects, without so much discipline and control in ensuring precision when they are getting started. Students are more likely to keep up and further develop their interests. The more advanced and rigorous training can be reserved for those who are determined and interested to go further.

• postponing the streaming, and introducing flexibility and reversibility in the decisions young people have to make. Students DON'T HAVE TO SACRIFICE AND GIVE UP THEIR INTERESTS BEFORE THEY ARE OLD ENOUGH TO TELL WHAT THEIR INTERESTS REALLY ARE!

• young people are encouraged to have a balanced life with lots of ‘hobbies’. They don’t consider the sports or music as rigid training purely for the sake of cultivating their abilities or ‘talents’ in those areas. Rather, they aim to help the people to enjoy and learn in a relaxed manner, and ultimately to incorporate their areas of interests as part of their lives. This turns on the purpose and attitude in pursuing their interests – it is not for the sake of standing out from others, but for the genuine love of their hobbies. (See Julius's case for instance)

• Individual fine tuning and attention – allowing students to learn at their own pace and the curriculum and learning materials are designed for individual students.

- Encourage independent learning and thinking AND ACQUISITION of knowledge and skills - Teachers don’t give them the answers, but they help them to find the answers for themselves. (don’t give them the fish, but teach them how to fish – this way the next generation of fishermen have the ability to explore uncharted waters and go to greater lengths and depths) They are more likely to find their own worlds this way in my opinion. (See independence)

• Actual subject called Student counselling which includes classes and individual sessions with students from Grades 7 to 9 (Forms 1 to 3) to tell them what sort of options are available to them, and help them work out what to do (primarily choose between high school and technical schools). There is also one week of compulsory work experience with enterprises in the real world (organised with the help of the school). This makes the options in society known to young people in time for them to make plans for themselves – options only mean something if they are known to our next generation, and they have reasonable chance of working towards it.

B. education values: equality; respect for every child and free education for all

• no child is left behind – free education for all means every child can in theory have access to good school education irrespective of their family backgrounds and financial situation. Talented children do not lag behind because of a competition at the starting point. The philosophy behind this is that the government believes they cannot afford to lose any member of the society. Teachers IN GENERAL don't seem to think there are bad students in Finland (only with one exception from my experience)

RESPECT THE INDIVIDUAL - the individual ability, potential, thoughts, interests of each child are respected. they are encouraged to think for themselves, independently and critically from very early on. They are not meant to walk the paths already explored by the previous generations – they are meant to find out what they like themselves or their own way of going about things, and do as they wish.

• To look at this from another perspective - the philosophy of no child left behind taken further: the interests, needs and dreams of children are respected, and the society and education system try to facilitate their all-round development to the extent possible for the individuals.

comparison is not encouraged, so students do not easily feel frustrated when they don’t initially excel or master their interests. Students are encouraged to learn at their own pace, and not rushed or pushed much when they are young. Benefits of small class teaching.

C. The education system has plenty of resources and has a firm legal basis to ensure that everyone is capable of working towards these ideals.

I certainly acknowledge the decisiveness of money as a factor.
• education expenditure occupied 6.5% of GDP. Lots of resources were devoted to the system.

• various pieces of legislation to secure the quality and rights of free education for all

• teachers’ masters qualifications (either in education or their own respective subjects). the teachers themselves set good role models for lifelong learning – always enrolled in postgraduate courses during vacation time. there is in-service training as well.

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