CoSN Investigates Scandanavian Students’ Success

March 4, 2008 · Posted in culture, NCLB, Teaching 2.0 · Comment 

An interesting follow up to my Feb 29 post (What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?) showed up today from eSchool News. The article, U.S. Educators Seek Lessons from Scandinavia, reported on a visit to Scandinavian schools by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). The purpose of the visit was to find “answers for how students in that region of the world were able to score so high on a recent international test of math and science skills.”

CoSN’s observations speak volumes about the current state of US public schools. In Scandinavian schools, students begin formal education at 7 years, having spent the previous several years in preschool programs aimed at personal responsibility and social development rather than on academics. By the time they get to formal schooling, the situation looks like this:

[CoSN] found that educators in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark all cited autonomy, project-based learning, and nationwide broadband internet access as keys to their success… Grading doesn’t happen until the high-school level, because they believe grading takes the fun out of learning. They want to inspire continuous learning.

What the CoSN delegation didn’t find in those nations were competitive grading, standardized testing, and top-down accountability—all staples of the American education system.

The Scandinavians have apparently learned that drilling young children on facts and figures to produce better scores on standardized tests does not produce well-educated adults. Similarly, they seem to have figured out that guiding students into taking more responsibility for their own learning means that the students…ummm…learn more. And learning can be fun? Why is this surprising?

Could we design a system of public education that was any more backwards? If you need more evidence, visit the Orlando Sentinel.

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?

February 29, 2008 · Posted in culture · 2 Comments 

That’s not my title. It’s from this article in the Wall Street Journal. Read it right now. There is much food for thought here. Not mentioned in the article is the fact that Finland is the most wired country in the world with very high bandwidth Internet access available in every home. (If you thought Nokia was a Japanese company, you’re wrong. It’s Finnish.)