Visionary Leadership In Education

Finland & Norway

In a previous article I wrote about restructuring schools and the possibility of reverting to a one room school, Which I experienced during my primary school-days in the fifties; not only would it reduce the cost of education but we can then focus of raising the standard for teachers.

Norway and Finland are way ahead of other countries around the world, Their teachers are among the top intellectuals in their respective countries; the only comparisons are the Asian of Singapore and China.

There is a tendency in some countries to place the young, untrained and inexperienced teachers in the early stages of learning, kindergarten and first forms in primary schools; I have always maintained that the best teachers should be placed in early childhood education; we acknowledge the common sense principle of building a strong foundation before you build a house; why are we not practicing the same principle in education?

Norway is giving priority to raising the quality of education in the early stages of learning, They are ensuring a safe environment, quality schools and adequate first class teachers.

Here is an extract from an article showing their commitment to a quality early education. -The professional and personal competencies of its staff are a kindergarten’s most important, care, play, learning and reducing social inequalities.

Their aim is to strengthen the quality of education and improving the quality of teacher training and relevant facilities.

They are preparing to launch a national strategy to strengthen the children’s language and reading skills from an early age.

Finland is reforming its education system by scrapping its subjects and replacing them with topics. They have been at the top of the ladder for literacy and numeracy.

They are about to embark on a program of preparing children for a working life.

Most of the subjects taught in schools can be managed on the internet and supervision can be done for larger numbers and fewer but better trained teachers .

The subjects are being replaced by topics; such a system would embrace multiple subjects in a meaningful and practical way. The system will also embrace children working in smaller groups to solve problems, and at the same time build on their communication and social skills. This is a format I experimented with in the late sixties, where the children were arranged in a group of varying levels of academic ability.

The mixed-group arrangement also provided an opportunity for children to be creative and bring new ideas to the subjects the traditional teaching system might overlook.

Going back to my teaching days, I can remember how myself and thirty-eight to nine year old students was introduced to kinetic art; the research was an exciting group effort to learn about a subject that was not part of the primary school curriculum.

THE FUTURE

Typing Skills More Relevant Than Handwriting.

Are you aware that Finland is also removing cursive handwriting from the School curriculum and replacing it with lessons in keyboard typing. I don’t think we can abandon handwriting skills; but modern technology is certainly reducing the need for handwriting.

Technology will definitely play a greater role in future education at all levels of education; but those little hand-held devices are creating social problems of distraction, discipline, and teacher authority.

HOME SCHOOLING

The divide between the haves and the haves not, compounded by the social problems in schools, might see an increase in home school among professionals and people of an upper financial status.

I would hope there would be more dramatic changes in Education, but given the history and lack of visionary leadership over the past five to six decades; It might take the shaming by the Scandinavians and Asians to bring about changes in the rest of the world.

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