Curiosity and Learning from Finnish EducationEvery child is born curious. You may remember the saying "the world is your oyster." A child takes that oyster and tries to figure out how to open it. As soon as we can ask questions, we do. We ask why this and why that. The questions are more important than the answers.
How do we bring curiosity back to schools?
For so long schools have killed creativity and squashed curiosity. Students are fed information and then tested on it and then labeled from the test results. The system isn't working and needs to change now.
Finland realized this in the 1980s. They were testing and teaching to prescribed standards by grade level. They realized their system was mediocre and were creating a population of people who did not know how to think on their own. So they changed everything. They threw out the tests and changed teaching so it became the most valued profession. Teachers compete to get into the teaching masters two year program. If they are accepted to become a teacher in Finland, they attend for free -- and they work very hard. They then intern in a teaching hospital where they are given a mentor and students as part of a lab. The teacher matters. Students matter and learning is different. Learning is personalized.
From this article from the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal: Finland has taken to better serve all students and educators, including:
- Improving teacher recruitment and training at colleges of education.
- Offering a high-quality curriculum with pathways to high-quality vocational training at younger grades.
- Emphasizing play and the arts in education.
How does Finland bring back curiosity and creativity to learning?
They encourage questions. The teacher allows students to drive their learning. In doing this, the teacher's role changes. Can this happen in the US? I am seeing pockets of change with charter schools and a teacher here and there. However, we are still working within a system of prescribed curriculum, teaching to the test, and standards at each grade level. It's amazing that Finland did start over, and it worked, but Finland is as large as the state of Texas. They are a diverse nation with multiple cultures but not like the US. Each state in our nation is different. Each state has their own standards even though most adopted the Common Core Standards.
Changing teaching and learning in the US is going to take lots of time because everyone involved has their own preconceived ideas of what teaching and learning should look like. I am going to keep doing research on how to personalize learning, what personalized learning is, and find models and examples to share with you. I welcome any comments, research, or links to help me on my quest.