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A look at Finland's attitude toward schools and teachers. A world apart from views here.

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 07:38 PM
Original message
A look at Finland's attitude toward schools and teachers. A world apart from views here.
Edited on Sat Dec-11-10 07:40 PM by madfloridian
Linda Darling-Hammond was President Obama's education advisor during his campaign. Many of us hoped she would be Secretary of Education, but Arne got the honors.

She published a study last year of how Finland handles education. The attitude there toward teachers is of respect and admiration.

The attitude in this country is..to be blunt..almost contempt. There's a reason for that. There has been a propaganda blitz against public education that started even before Reagan, but it really came to the forefront then. Romald Reagan literally attacked the profession of teaching.

Three years into his first term Mr. Reagan's criticism of public education reached a crescendo when he hand picked a "blue ribbon" commission that wrote a remarkably critical and far-reaching denunciation of public education. Called "A Nation At Risk," this document charged that the US risked losing the economic competition among nations due to a "... rising tide of (educational) mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people." (The commissioners did not consider the possibility that US firms were uncompetitive because of corporate mismanagement, greed and short sightedness.)After "A Nation At Risk" the nation's public schools were fair game for every ambitious politician or self-important business boss in the country. Its publication prompted a flood of follow-up criticism of public education as "blue ribbon" and "high level" national commissions plus literally hundreds of state panels wrote a flood of reform reports. Most presupposed that the charges made by Mr. Reagan's handpicked panel were true. Oddly though, throughout this entire clamor, parental confidence in the school's their children attended remained remarkably high. Meanwhile Mr. Reagan was quietly halving federal aid to education.

That sums up Mr. Reagan's educational legacy. As governor and president he demagogically fanned discontent with public education, then made political hay of it. As governor and president he bashed educators and slashed education spending while professing to valued it. And as governor and president he left the nation's educators dispirited and demoralized.


The report was not true, but it was spread so completely by the media that no criticism ever took hold.

When I write about education here from the viewpoint of a retired teacher, I expect anything to happen. The attacks through the years have taken hold, and there is little respect for teachers from the top of both parties down to the students. A sad situation.

Here are some of the things Darling-Hammond wrote about schools and teachers in Finland. The atmosphere there must be amazing.

How Finland Is Building a Strong Teaching and Learning System

First there is a quote from the Ministry of Education.

Finland offers an example of how a nation built a comprehensive teaching and learning system that has raised achievement and closed achievement gaps.

The aim (of Finnish education policy) is a coherent policy geared to educational equity and a high level of education among the population as a whole. The principle of lifelong learning entails that everyone has sufficient learning skills and opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in different learning environments throughout their lifespan.

Government of Finland, Ministry of Education


The goal in our country used to be almost the same, allowing the development of the whole child. No longer. Our philosophy has quickly changed to a high-stakes testing concept.

More about Finnish schools.

Strategies for Reform

Because of these trends, many people have turned to Finland for clues to educational transformation. As one analyst notes: Most visitors to Finland discover elegant school buildings filled with calm children and highly educated teachers. They also recognize the large autonomy that schools enjoy; little interference by the central education administration in schools everyday lives, systematic methods to address problems in the lives of students, and targeted professional help for those in need. (Sahlberg 2009, p. 7)

However, less visible forces account for the more tangible evidence visitors may see. Leaders in Finland attribute these gains to their intensive investments in teacher education all teachers receive three years of high quality graduate-level preparation, completely at state expense plus a major overhaul of the curriculum and assessment system designed to ensure access to a thinking curriculum for all students. A recent analysis of the Finnish system summarized its core principles as follows (Laukkanen 2008; see also Buchberger & Buchberger 2003):

* Resources for those who need them most
* High standards and supports for special needs
* Qualified teachers
* Evaluation of education
* Balancing decentralization and centralization





Look at those core principles in Finland.

"Resources for those who need them most"

Today in the US if a school doesn't perform as expected, resources are taken away and the schools are closed or made into charters. So there are FEWER resources for those who need them the most.

"High standards and supports for special needs"

I and others have posted example after example of charter schools having a high attrition rate of students with special needs. They simply don't have to keep them.

"Qualified teachers"

There is a tendency since Arne took over to hire teachers who are not certified and given only weeks or a few months of training...paying private agencies such as TFA and the New Teacher Project big money to recruit these non certified teachers.

I could go on, but you get the point. Finland respects its well-educated teachers, the US does not.

There was an article several months ago at Rethinking Schools. It told about a visit to a classroom in Finland and what it might entail. Much of the article is now behind a subscription firewall, but part is still available.

Wise, Wiser, Teacher What I Learned in Finnish Schools

On a tour of an elementary school in Tampere, Finland, I was thrilled by the teachers lounge. It was large and stocked with long tables, full bookcases, and not just comfortable-looking, but stylishthat great Finnish designcherry red armchairs. A table held a coffeepot and a box of Fazer chocolates; a large window looked out on a stand of birch trees. During the 20 minutes I spent there talking to the schools director, teachers stopped in to chat with each other, to sit and rest, or to work.

I also loved other things I saw at this school: boys and girls knitting puppets in an art room; sock-footed children sitting on their classroom floor playing chess; a hot lunch served on china plates and eaten by students and teachers together at tables with flowers in vases. But I was awestruck by what the teachers room indicatedsomeone who made decisions about space and resources knew that teachers should have lots of both.

That was 2006. Three years later I returned to spend a semester as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Helsinki. While there I visited seven elementary and high schools, and four universities. I talked to many parents, teachers, and professors about education in their country.

Finns are proud of their uniformly high-quality schools. Unlike in the United States, where parents fret about getting their children into good and often private schools with restrictive enrollment, virtually all schools are public, and most Finnish parents send their children to the school closest to their home. Everyone I spoke with told me that teaching is a desirable profession in Finland, albeit not very highly paid, and also largely female. The nations positive view of the field is expressed in the slogan on T-shirts made for the teacher education program at the University of OuluWise, Wiser, Teacher. Teaching is seen as comparable to information technology employment; it is considered exciting and contemporary work.


What an amazing picture of a classroom in which both teachers and students are treated with respect and intelligence.

Unfortunately Arne is having a huge conniption fit about how the schools in Shanghai scored so much better. One of the principals from a school in Peking, China, explains that as the world is oohing and aahing about the test scores in Shanghai.... educators there are realizing serious weaknesses.

It's ironic that just as the world is appreciating the strengths of China's education system, Chinese are waking up to its weaknesses. These are two sides of the same coin: Chinese schools are very good at preparing their students for standardized tests. For that reason, they fail to prepare them for higher education and the knowledge economy.

But don't the PISA results at least show that China's K-9 education is the best in the world, and that standardized testing, as U.S. President Barack Obama seems to believe, is necessary to improve American schools?

Not really. According to research on education, using tests to structure schooling is a mistake. Students lose their innate inquisitiveness and imagination, and become insecure and amoral in the pursuit of high scores.

Even Shanghai educators admit they're merely producing competent mediocrity.


Competent mediocrity, how about that? From the words of a Chinese educator.





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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 07:43 PM
Response to Original message
1. Sure didn't take long for the unreccers to find this thread
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 07:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
7. I have noticed at least 5 already.
Amazing, ain't it? I tried to post a post that would not be offensive. :shrug:
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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 12:51 AM
Response to Reply #7
14. You are known by your posts to be pro-union/teacher/worker. That in itself warrants their pox on you
The size of that element here at DU continues to astound.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 12:13 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. Yes, I have noticed that.
The size of that group is growing.

Becoming more anti-teacher, anti-union in a short time.
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chervilant Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-10 03:46 AM
Response to Reply #19
51. And,
think how self-destructive is such an attitude!

Unarguably, most of the PTB do not WANT our children--specifically the undeserving children of the vast unwashed masses--to be "educated." Furthermore, by the time our precious children have reached the fourth grade, our species' poisonous pedagogy has rendered all but the most stalwart intellects completely disinterested in "education"!

Most of the students I've taught have no idea what is a critical thinker, much less how to be one. I rarely encounter a middle school student whose raison d'etre is absorbing as much knowledge as is possible. In fact, our species' youngest generation has little or no appreciation for experiencing life as a never-ending opportunity to learn!

Ours is a most bizarre species. We take our wee children--who are hardwired to be naturally inquisitive, and intellectual--and we subject them to a system of public education that is pedantic and stultifying! Talk about cutting off one's nose to spite one's face...
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StevieM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #7
30. Dupe post, self-delete (eom)
Edited on Mon Dec-13-10 01:49 PM by StevieM
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StevieM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 01:48 PM
Response to Reply #7
33. I tried to recommend this, but it says that you can't after it's been up for 24 hours.
I actually first read this last night and left it up on my computer to re-read. I really enjoyed your article.

There are so many reasons why we won't even come close to doing that here. Our main objective is to embrace conservative values at all times. Our ability to proclaim the perpetuation of conservatism is the standard by which we define success. The appearance of liberal values is the standard by which we define failure. We can't even embrace a policy if it in any way seems to contradict something once said by Ronald Reagan.

That's before we even get to the issue of school funding inequalities. Not mention that there are 23 states that still paddle school children.

Needless to say, there is a lot wrong with our school system.
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 07:45 PM
Response to Original message
2. Finnish and American society are quite different, economically, socially, culturally nt
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CurtEastPoint Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 07:49 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Point taken. However, "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why...
Edited on Sat Dec-11-10 07:49 PM by CurtEastPoint
I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?
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CurtEastPoint Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 07:47 PM
Response to Original message
3. Thank you for posting. Excellent read.
I used to teach high school, many years ago, and what we have that passes for 'education' now is truly sad. This is perhaps THE most crippling deficit in the US, and it has effects that will last many years.

We need to look at Finland's model and any other country that teaches children to THINK.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 07:55 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Things had started to change before I retired...
and I could see the testing mindset getting worse. But we were still able and encouraged to do in-depth teaching and encourage problem solving...and I am not just talking about a math problem. Project teaching, real-life problem solving.
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HillbillyBob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 06:41 AM
Response to Reply #6
16. I graduated from a rural WV school in 1980, the teachers wanted us
to think for ourselves. I was not a very good student, being bullied gay kid I did not want to be where others could abuse me.
So instead of being able to concentrate and learn, I was pushed around etc.
I still like learning about history, we take advantage of the various information sources our Dish TV offers, news from overseas, history, culture, etc.

I noted the anti intellectualism in about 7 grade, Foolball is important, Bball is oh so much more 'interesting' than the Revolutionary War.
We don't care what happened yesterday its almost time for pro rastling.
Like sport is so much more important than figuring out how our government does not represent us anymore or how to fix it so it does.
Yes sport has its place, but so does music, math, gammer, and respect for others.

Tv has had a large impact, but I think more it has been the soap sold by the rs that edumacation is for dummys that has trashed our middle class with greed *u 2 can be reech!@ bs.(sic)

The first election I was able to vote in was 1980.. had just turned 18 that Sept. I was pretty naive, but had heard parents and grandparents talk about politics for years and tried to pay attention (ADHD).
I knew that raygun was a fool and so were all those others that voted for a senile clown puppet..and NOTHING happened since to change my mind ( I mean looking at evidence not happy feelgood we r murikans bold and brave blather).

Our supposed exceptionalism has become a false front since WWII.
We are the invaders, poseurs, manipulators and rapist of other nations for resources. The miseducated masses have been fooled because they are self centered and narrow of focus and mindless parroting propaganda.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 10:49 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. It was that way when I was in HS....longer ago than that.
I remember in the lower grades being proud of my good grades and intelligence, but from jr high on I was not so proud. I managed to have a good circle of friends, but even they made a little fun of A's. It's worse here now. The football players and cheerleaders have cult status.

I have become disillusioned also about our country's role in the world, but it took me longer than some.

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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 04:50 PM
Response to Reply #18
46. Not only do the football players and cheerleaders have the staus
But the Big Bucks always exist for keeping that football field green.

A long long time ago, I was allowed to supplement my ADFC earnings with work at a local HS. I was given the duties of 'bathroom matron" but the other bathroom matrons found out that I had experience as a carpenter. So they rallied around the idea that I should work with the male janitors.

The janitorial staff was in crisis mode - football season was upon them, and the football field was a mess. The department kept hiring males who would not show up. As a result, they decided that a female like me couldn't be any worse than the men that didn't last a week.

These male janitors were all making over 60K a year. This was way back in 1979. They all worked overtime to keep the football field green. I was found to an excellent worker, and would probably have held on to that job for life. Things that two janitors were spending twenty hours a week on, I did in about ten hours by myself. But then, silly me, I decided to apply for for the real job opening, at $ 16/hr rather than continue with my CETA level pay check (something like $ 6.40/hr.)

Well long story short - within a week of applying for the position, I was told that no new personnel was needed. And that the position had been closed.

Whenever any community says they don't have money to hire teachers, I think back to this experience -where men could work as little as possible and still make over 60 K a year.

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upi402 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 07:52 PM
Response to Original message
5. My friend teaches in a Scandinavian country
Everything is smarter. First aid response practices, public transport, economic fairness, safety net, public safety, education, medical.

But they have not acquiesced to money elites - there's still opposition- my friend says.

When I travel outside the country, people ask in astonishment, :What's wrong over there?" They are as shocked as we are (many of us).
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 10:05 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. And I agree with them. I also wonder when it happened here.
And I wonder how it happened...was it the media, the uninformed populace? What?
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
8. the Nordic countries have`t waged war against anyone in a long time
sweden in the early 1800`s ,finland civil war in 1918,and norway not enough to worry about!

education or war...we chose war.
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proud2BlibKansan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. +1
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Reader Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.
By one of my favorite authors:

"What would that world be, a world without war? It would be the real world. Peace was the true life, the life of working and learning and bringing up children to work and learn. War, which devoured work, learning, and children, was the denial of reality."Ursula K. LeGuin

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 01:49 PM
Response to Reply #12
34. There was an illustrated story in one of our 2nd grade reading texts.
The kids loved it. It was called "What if they gave a war and nobody came"?

Sounds like Sandburg, I think. But the story was really right on.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 12:41 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. Excellent point.
And ours are lasting years now.
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 06:47 AM
Response to Reply #8
17. War starves education, but I bet education would also starve war
Edited on Sun Dec-12-10 06:47 AM by lostnfound
Not only in dollars for war, but in popular support for more war.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #17
21. Good point.
An enlightened, well-educated populace would starve war support.

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cowcommander Donating Member (679 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 04:12 AM
Response to Reply #8
27. Not exactly true, Finland sided with Nazi Germany in WW2
Edited on Mon Dec-13-10 04:15 AM by cowcommander
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuation_War

Norway got invaded by the Nazis as well, and Quisling became an infamous term for collaboration. Sweden stayed neutral, but also helped the nazis to save their neutrality.
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Gaedel Donating Member (802 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 05:49 AM
Response to Reply #8
28. Finland
Finland had a few "border incidents" in the 1939-1945 time frame.

Come to think of it, Denmark and Norway got involved in that little affair as well.

Sweden kept out of it by assuring Hitler of a steady supply of iron ore.
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cemaphonic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-10 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #28
55. Yeah, including a thorough humiliation of the Soviet Army in the Winter War.
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AlbertCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 02:12 PM
Response to Reply #8
35. sweden in the early 1800`s ,finland civil war in 1918,and norway
All had nothing to do with WWII??????

Boy our education IS lousy!


But I get your point. You can use 75% of your budget on the war machine, or on education and infrastructure. Hmmmmm.... which one is more helpful to the average citizen???
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Monarda Donating Member (25 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #8
39. Not quite
Um, Norway and Finland were active in WW2. A major difference
is that the Scandinavian countries did not experience
suffering in the Depression because they shared their
resources.
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Rethuglican Donating Member (5 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-10 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #39
54. It's hard to pick on Norway in this case.
To be fair, Norway wasn't an active aggressor. They did have a portion of their armed forces in use by the Allies, though.

The corner cases for war are pretty interesting. You end up with odd situations like the British invasion of Iceland in WWII, the American invasion of Russia in 1918, Muslim SS units, or Sven Forkbeard as King of England.
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Rethuglican Donating Member (5 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-10 07:22 PM
Response to Reply #8
53. Well, there is that small matter of Finland invading Russia in 1941.
I suppose they could have picked better partners in WWII.
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Starry Messenger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-11-10 08:08 PM
Response to Original message
9. k&r
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leftstreet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 12:53 AM
Response to Original message
15. K&R
This was very interesting. Thanks for posting!
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 02:14 PM
Response to Original message
20. More comparison of US/Finnish schools from Darling Hammond, 2008
http://www.newsweek.com/2008/12/17/reform-school.html

"What's the key to their success? What are they doing that the United States is not?
First, they have many fewer children in poverty and a much bigger safety net. We have 22 percent of our kids in povertythe highest proportion of any industrialized country. Our schools have to make up for all of that, including the large achievement gap that kids have when they come to school from low-income families and haven't had preschool education.

Second, they spend their money equally on schools, sometimes with additional money to the schools serving high-need students. We take kids who have the least access to educational opportunities at home and we typically give them the least access to educational opportunities at school as well. We have the most unequal spread of achievement of any industrialized country except for Germany."

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reggie the dog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 05:16 PM
Response to Original message
22. very interesting
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madisongrace Donating Member (44 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 05:40 PM
Response to Original message
23. Race to Nowhere: The Documentary
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 12:05 AM
Response to Reply #23
26. I don't see any screenings near us.
I see a way at the website to pre-order. I might do that if price is fair.

The trailer looks very interesting.
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Synicus Maximus Donating Member (828 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 06:03 PM
Response to Original message
24. Finland has a population of approximately 5.2 million. That is about the
size of the Atlanta metro area. The share of foreign citizens in Finland is 2.5%. So you have a small, fairly wealthy, homogeneous society that you are comparing that to the US.
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-12-10 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. They CAN be compared in attitude and respect of educators.
That is what my post is about. Arne and Obama have been condescending to public school teachers for 2 years.

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MichiganVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #24
31. So then aren't you saying that the large US society is actually poor?
And does poverty exclude respect?
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 11:37 AM
Response to Original message
29. Another example indicating that the man who campaigned is not the same as the man who in now in the
Edited on Mon Dec-13-10 11:38 AM by BrklynLiberal
White House. Promises were made....indications were given....we were led to believe.....

The end result: Nada.
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MichiganVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 01:48 PM
Response to Reply #29
32. Meet the new president, same as the last president. And a couple before that.
No I'm done with this administration.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 04:52 PM
Response to Reply #29
47. Sadly, this is so very true. n/t
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cottonseed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 02:18 PM
Response to Original message
36. A small, rich, ethnically pure society. That ain't the US.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #36
40. dupe
Edited on Mon Dec-13-10 03:37 PM by Jakes Progress
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cottonseed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 02:19 PM
Response to Original message
37. A small, rich, ethnically pure society. That ain't the US.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 03:36 PM
Response to Reply #37
41. So your point would be
that because our schools need more, we should spend less, hire less qualified teachers, rely on crap tests for evaluation, and generally move toward private education?

I also think you have a parochial view of the world and other countries.
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 02:20 PM
Response to Original message
38. And let's not forget that Finland PAYS to get those highly qualified teachers
I've seen far too many education majors who took a look at their student debt load, a look at a teacher's starting pay, and immediately found another major. We are losing thousands of college students who would make great teachers, simply because teacher's pay is so poor.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 03:38 PM
Response to Original message
42. With you and Darling-Hammond on these matters.
Her children and my daughters attended same private school in DC, 15+- years ago.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 03:42 PM
Response to Reply #42
44. We had many capable and knowledgeable candidates
for arne's job. But they knew what they were doing. Unfortunately, they didn't play basketball.
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Jakes Progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 03:39 PM
Response to Original message
43. Kick because
everyone here needs to know these things. There are those who don't want to know these things, but the need to so that they can explain to their grandkids why they supported an end to American public education.
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 03:57 PM
Response to Original message
45. K; unfortunately too late to R
I know Finnish educators, and the attitude there is indeed very different. The support of education is something deemed worthy of *spending money*. Classes are small. The culture values education and knowledge. Also, due to their social welfare system, there is little real poverty; which means that children are better 'set up' for learning.
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suffragette Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 05:24 PM
Response to Original message
48. Well worth looking at Finland's Nat'l Board of Education
http://www.oph.fi/english/sources_of_information/pisa


Why did Finland do so well in PISA? Some explanations are found in the main principles for comprehensive education in Finland:

* The Finnish school system offers equal educational opportunities to everyone irrespective of domicile, gender, financial situation or linguistic and cultural background. With this objective in mind, accessibility of education is ensured throughout the country. Finland does not have segregated educational services for different genders, i.e. no girls and boys schools. Basic education is provided completely free of charge (including teaching, learning materials, school meals, health care, dental care and school transport).
* Basic education is an integrated nine-year structure intended for the entire age group. Schools do not select pupils; instead, every pupil is guaranteed access to a school within their own catchment area. Even children with the most severe intellectual disabilities fall within the framework of common basic education.
* The education system is flexible and its administration is based on intense delegation and provision of support. Steering is based on objectives set out in the Basic Education Act and Decree and within the National Core Curriculum for Basic Education. Responsibility for provision of education and implementation of objectives rests with local authorities (municipalities).
* Activities at all levels are characterised by interaction and partnership building. In order to develop the school system, there is co-operation between different levels of administration, schools and other sectors of society. Finnish school authorities also co-operate a lot with subject associations and teacher and rector organisations. This has secured strong support for development measures.
* Plenty of attention is focused on individual support for pupils learning and well-being and relevant guidelines are included in the National Core Curriculum. Every pupil receives support to help them perform their studies successfully. Only 2% of pupils have to repeat a year. Years are mostly repeated during the first or second school year. Only 0.5% of pupils fail to be awarded the basic education certificate. More than 96% of those completing basic education continue their studies at upper secondary level.
* Assessment of both schools learning outcomes and pupils is encouraging and supportive in nature. The aim is to produce information that will help schools and pupils to develop. There are no national tests of learning outcomes and no school league tables. Pupils and schools are not compared with each other. National assessments of learning outcomes are based on samples and the key function of assessment is to pinpoint areas requiring further improvement in different subjects and within the entire school system.
* Teachers working at all levels of education are well-trained and strongly committed to their work. All teachers are required to hold a Masters degree and initial teacher training includes teaching practice. The teaching profession is highly respected and popular in Finland, which makes it possible to select the best young students. Teachers have an independent position in their work.
* Organisation of schoolwork and teaching is guided by a conception of learning where pupils own active involvement and interaction with teachers, fellow pupils and the learning environment are important. Pupils process and interpret the information that they absorb on the basis of their prior knowledge structures.


Also: http://www.oph.fi/english/education

All good points to consider.


Too late for me to Rec, but here's a hearty kick.
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Dinger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-13-10 08:36 PM
Response to Original message
49. Damn, Too Late to Rec, Sorry :(
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jtuck004 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-10 12:42 AM
Response to Original message
50. There are places where education would be considered incomplete
Edited on Tue Dec-14-10 12:43 AM by jtuck004
if you didn't encourage the spirit to develop alongside the mind...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_high_school

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puebloknot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-10 12:28 PM
Response to Original message
52. My Daughter, Myself: Our education
First, thanks for posting this great article.

I went to public schools, and U.S. Army schools in Europe (public, not private), and some of them were ugly, and some of the teachers were inept. But, by golly, I learned to read and do my sums from the many devoted teachers who were in my life as I was growing up. My first grade teacher used the old Dick and Jane and "Run, Spot, Run" methodology to teach reading. I later learned phonics, and once I learned to read well, my life was my own. I could learn anything I wanted because I could read words on a page, and understand what they meant.

A third-grade teacher showed me that I could write poetry (it was deathless third-grade poetry), and that I could get a laugh from others by clowning around in a penguin suit. When I left that classroom in New York to return to New Mexico, I looked up and saw her at the window, waving and wiping away tears as my father pulled the car away.

In 11th grade, a chemistry teacher would not give up on me until I finally got the concept of valences. She was the soul of patience and kindness, and she helped me believe in myself.

I was a top student through high school, but was given to understand by my mother that a college education was not for me -- I would "just get married, anyway." It took a lot of years to develop the Chutzpah to start taking classes at a community college in California.

But, California: It was another issue when, in the 1970s, I began dealing with the LA school system. I remember some little boys in my neighborhood talking about their private school with pride and privately thinking "What snobbery." The day came when I put my daughter in that same private school. I always believed in the principle of public education but I wanted my daughter to learn to read and do *her* sums, just as I had learned those things.

Over time, I had my daughter in several schools, some public, some private. It was a mixed bag in all cases. My daughter's second-grade teacher in the first private school did not spell well, and did not appreciate a parent pointing it out. And she accused me of writing a short essay assigned to my daughter. The essay was perfect. I did look it over, but not one change was made.

Over time, I encountered several teachers, some of them my daughter's teachers, two of them neighbors/friends who were teachers. I had occasion to help one with her resume, and to see something written by the other, and I was appalled. There were glaring spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, and these were the people who were teaching English to our young people.

I work as an editor in the legal field, and I train people to do what I do. I have seen many writing samples from trained teachers, both for the lower grades, and at college level, which are just pathetic.

So, please, do not look at this as an attack on teachers. In every profession, there are those who do not excel, and do not even meet minimum standards. But teachers who lack basic skills need to be weeded out so that the many, many talented, devoted, and loving teachers who have much to offer can be the ones who educate our people.

I can't speak to the politics of all this. I just know that it isn't "rocket science" to take a small piece of a large subject and break it down so that children can grasp it. That is ... if those children are not dealing with problems at home, violence on their campuses, poor nutrition, and dedicated but exhausted teachers who are serving more as wardens, trying to keep peace, than teachers.

For only two years, I had my daughter in a Waldorf school. She credits that experience with making her the artist she is today. That system is very like the Finnish scenario described in your article. The children line up at the door and shake the teacher's hand and say "Good morning," before they enter the classroom. There are always flowers in the room, and there is a routine of taking a few quiet minutes to settle before the teacher begins her lessons.

The children play at recess on grassy fields, rather than asphalt. They learn to knit; they carve wooden spoons; they participate in working in their class garden. There are art lessons and music lessons.

Are these little darlings in private school perfect angels? Not by a long shot. But they know they are valued, and they know that they are expected to respect teachers and other students. And if they fail in that, they are called on the carpet and given appropriate discipline.

For financial reasons, I had to take my daughter out of the Waldorf school and put her back in public school. She at least got to be there for preschool, and third and fourth grades.

Going back to public school was not easy for my daughter. Class size was was double, the kids were much more rowdy, the classrooms were lacking the flowers and cushions and other little comforts she was used to. And the teachers were hassled, and not always able to give attention that my daughter had grown used to in the small haven of her Waldorf school.

But, she soldiered on, left high school early because she could not stand the inhospitable atmosphere and the dumbed-down learning environment. She went to a community college for a time, then to a private art school in Laguna Beach (for which she will be paying for the rest of her days). The art school was highly reminiscent of her days in the Waldorf school, and she did well.

Looking back at all of this, I remember how often I would drive by a public school in Los Angeles, see the children playing out on an asphalt playground in the heat of summer, and think, It doesn't have to be this way. Why not plow up the asphalt and plant grass? Okay, so it will get traumatized by little pounding feet. But it's a live thing.

And why could not each school have a garden area, and why could not children be taught knitting along with reading and music?

And why could they not remove candy and Coke machines, and see that nutritional meals are served. And why not ban bringing candy to school in lunch boxes?

It has always seemed ludicrous to me that to achieve those very simple, ordinary things which used to be a part of public education in America, and especially in Europe, it boils down to money. In order to have soul, you have to pay. And those who can't pay have to make it in a too hostile world, all too often. Teachers who want to help are just spread too thin.

But coming back to my concerns above, it is simply a fact that our teacher training programs are turning out "teachers" who lack basic English and math skills. They are taught to teach, but they lack the necessary knowledge to do so in too many cases. I am not an educational expert. I don't know what all the problems are. And I am not bashing teachers in a general way at all. I have felt that a good teacher is "a thing of beauty, and a joy forever." I still remember my teacher waving and crying at the window because we had formed a bond, and she taught me some stuff: The three R's, but also that there are caring people in the world. Her lessons go on forever. I've told this story to my daughter many times.

I think the important issue in the article about Finland is that their teachers are *highly educated*! I don't know what goes into the mix of hiring a teacher in this country who lacks English skills or math skills, and then letting them stay on for the duration -- whatever that is -- and thereby having an adverse effect on a generation of young people. With kindness, such teachers need to be removed. But I want to end this on a happy note: For those teachers who do possess the requisite skills and the proper sentiments about their profession -- let them be elevated, in their numbers, to a position of respect in this country that they do not currently enjoy. And let them be saved from corporate "sausage making" that is spreading across our land in the guise of "education."

Every school should be a Finnish school, a Waldorf school -- in spirit.


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StarsInHerHair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-14-10 10:57 PM
Response to Original message
56. Obama aims low, continuing the 'how low can you go' horrible game
how very different after watching TCM film shorts and the 'Sputnik response' in America. Why are the politicians from Bizarro World?
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