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Finnish teaching methods

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Thisismytruth, Apr 29, 2012.

  1. Thisismytruth

    Thisismytruth New commenter





    Mainly articles but they provide a start.
  2. Thisismytruth

    Thisismytruth New commenter

    Apologies for that. Damn site obviously doesn't like Chrome.
  3. I think I've seen a couple of those before but thank you very much for your help :) I don't think I can really use an article from a sort of newspaper because I don't think its very reliable, but the other 2 sites look good. It would have been nice if their curriculum said something about methods but no... I keep seeing a mention of textbooks being free so they clearly use them but I don't know if I can just make an inference from that to say that they use them a lot? It's all a bit awkward but thanks very much for your help :)
  4. When I applied for a teaching position in Finland one of the requisites was experience in resource development so I was under the impression they did not use books. If you like I can pm you the name of the school and the name of the LA person who was on the panel-I hope I still have it. You could get in contact with them for a chat. Im sure they wouldn't mind as they seemed very nice people. They are very proud of their league table status. I suggest you research their high regard for education and their teachers.
  5. Maybe it was just the school or the region I was in then that seemed to focus more on text books. I was quite far up north where everything seemed quite traditional so maybe that could be why? It is very kind of you to offer me the name of the school and the LA person but I still have quite a few contacts with staff in Finland thank you. I think I may focus more on the culture of trust there instead of the teaching methods. I love the atmosphere in school over there, think its completely different. Did you end up working in Finland? :)
  6. No, I didnt. And did you get the job I applied for, it was north on the Swedish border?[​IMG] I got cold feet in the end and admittedly wasted their time.
    Good luck with your research.
  7. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    Not sure whether the (in?)famous TES (London) has any special status on your course but the follwing article, published on-line only 2 weeks ago does seem to begin to scupper the renowned "culture-of-trust"

    Finland, according to many a politician, is a paradise for teachers, with some of the best Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores in the world and national respect for the teaching profession.
    But it seems that life on the educational front line in this Nordic country is giving the lie to its reputation: according to recent research, Finnish primary schools are haemorrhaging teachers, who have been driven to the edge by some of the most unruly classrooms in the developed world.
    Helja Misukka, director of educational policy at Finland's OAJ teaching union, surveyed a thousand teachers from around the country and found that 70 per cent of them felt "behaviour was getting worse all the time" and pupils were extremely aggressive. These results were backed up by a survey from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which found that Finland's classroom discipline was the third worst among its members, ahead of only Argentina and Greece.
    According to Ms Misukka, younger teachers in particular felt classroom discipline was so difficult that "they can't really teach the national curriculum ... The teachers just feel that they can't cope and they feel really disappointed with their job". She also found that the larger the school was, and the bigger the city it was in, the worse pupil behaviour seemed to be.
    "This is a problem because in Finland we have more and more big schools," explained Ms Misukka. "We are closing 100 schools a year. Twenty years ago, we had 5,000 schools in Finland. Now we only have 3,000."
    She wondered if the poor behaviour could be put down to Finnish pupils being encouraged to be "critical" and to "think for themselves". But Finland's problems go beyond plain bad behaviour, according to Ms Misukka. She said that Finnish teachers have less and less support from parents, who are now far more inclined to take their child's side and blame the teacher, and that all this is leading to a teacher exodus.
    She is not alone in characterising Finnish classrooms as increasingly unbearable for school staff. Dr Kari Nissinen, of the Finnish Institute for Educational Research at the University of Jyvaskyla, has conducted research that produced similar conclusions - including that, currently, 40 per cent of Finnish primary schoolteachers eventually leave the profession.
    Dr Nissinen found that male teachers were more likely to leave than females, perhaps in pursuit of "higher earnings", and secondary school "specialists" were more likely to stick with teaching than their primary counterparts. Of those who left, roughly half went into some other form of teaching, such as private tuition, while the rest entered business.
    Dr Nissinen suggested that an increasing "macho culture" with attendant "street behaviour" among boys might explain the decline in pupil standards, as might a Finnish inclination to be "negative" and "critical" in surveys.

    Two personal observations, other than that I have never myself been closer than Amsterdam to Finland:

    i) Some people might find the lack of reaction to this article remarkable, given the satus of Finnish education as the Barça-of-educational-systems whilst others might look at the readership if the TES and think "par for the course."

    ii) I see that the OECD and its gurus figure heavily. I for one was greatly disappointed to see the online version one of their most recent publications contains a major error (by repeating the same table with the same title on 2 pages in a row) but that even after emails to 3 different departments there they have made no correction.
  8. I have to say BigFrank that while I doubt I could use such a source in my essay I definitely found it to be of interest.l I don't think I have ever read such a negative article on the Finnish system, especially one that contrasts so much with my own personal experience. That is not to say that I think the Finnish system is perfect, or even one that we should aspire to have ourselves or implement in out own systems in some way, but I do see many benefits of their system.

    I was a bit shocked to read - 'Finnish primary schools are haemorrhaging teachers, who have been driven to the edge by some of the most unruly classrooms in the developed world.' This is just the complete opposite of what I and my coursemates have seen (in a few different schools in different parts). In my opinion the children over there were far more respectful and well behaved which I always believed to be due to the difference in culture. That is not to say that there were not some incidents of poor behaviour but on the whole I found it to be much better. I myself was in a large school in a large city and poor behaviour was very infrequent.

    'She said that Finnish teachers have less and less support from parents, who are now far more inclined to take their child's side and blame the teacher, and that all this is leading to a teacher exodus.'

    This part I also found interesting. While in Finland I heard of a boy who had chopped off part of his finger during a practical session of D.T. Who do you think was blamed? The boy was blamed. Teachers (as far as I am aware) are very trusted and respected and the parents took the view that the teacher would have educated the child on safety matters and so it was the child's fault, not the teachers.

    Can I ask which source you are using for the OECD figures? I have been looking at the OECD education at a glance 2011 - is that what you have looked at?

    Thanks for showing me this article, it has definitely got me thinking! I am genuinely shocked by some of those statements as it bears no similarity to my own experience whatsoever. Although saying that my experience was around a year ago now, however I doubt things could change that much in such a short space of time. But of course I could be wrong.
  9. That did have paragraphs in but for some reason it doesn't want to show up :(
  10. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    The GCSE = Chelsea...?
    Always good to see the Barças and Finns of the world toppled off their pedestal, but personally I'd trust arradon's first-hand experience and wide reading rather than the stuff that journos crank out to earn their daily bread, even in an august publication like the TES.
    Continuing the Finns-as-Barça idea, are the Finns aware of their reputation, do they enjoy it, do they assiduously promote and revel in it, do they pour haughty scorn on other countries' feeble systems, believing that to them and them alone Truth and Beauty have been vouchsafed?
    Last time I went to Barcelona we stayed near the stadium and all across one of its walls was a banner with self-adoring twaddle about the lofty cathedral of the beautiful game. My sense of sterotype has the Finns a good deal more unassuming and modest about themselves than the Catalans, is this wrong?
  11. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    (Apologies for the multiple typos last time.)

    Much food for thought in the last 3 main posts.

    On the least important element i.e. FCB/ Finnish education/ Catalan arrogance and similar analogies (which admittedly I did start):

    To my mind the outgoing manager, Guardiola, is the personification of modesty, self-restraint, understatement etc. Obviously the marketing boys "have to" do their stuff but pomposity, presumption and pretention are surely, in this very narrow context, Portuguese attributes ?

    On the issue of Finnish education and of international comparisons:

    i) I posted the article to see your reaction rather than out of any profound belief in it, though as I said at the start, the lack of prior reaction from TES readers was disconcerting in view of the emperor-without-clother nature of the article.
    ii) I expressed my specific reservations about the OECD report (called "Preparing teachers and developing school leaders for the 21st century" no less ! ) because I am genuinely offended that a body of this nature with the resources which it can command and the prestige on which it relies should fail to respond to 3 seperate emails informing them of an apparently insignificant but clear and easily rectified error in its reports. Such an attitude makes me at least extremely sceptical of the organisation.

    The latter is obviously no more than a matter of personal pique and is to be read as such. However, given the inherent difficulties of attempts by bodies such as the OECD to make valid international comparisons.personally I feel such attempts are natural and desirable but horrendously complicated. So if I see a 20 page report with 4 or 5 tables in it I think "maybe" whereas if I see a 300 page ducument with enough statistics to keep an IBM mainframe in overdrive for a month of Sundays, I instinctively don't believe 90% of the report's content.

    iii) I was aware in posting that the thread title is "teaching methods" and that the report makes no specific mention of them, but suffice it to say that I think most of the debate on this matter in England over many decades has been a complete red herring.

    Of course it is better if the children at the back of the class can hear your voice, can see the black/ white board, can read your hand writing (if anyone still uses this), can feel confident to venture an answer, or even a question for clarification, without fear of being mocked. Obviously.

    But even if the children all have their own PC wired to an international grid for learning which has all the latest software produced by the smartest cookie in the Helsinki educational firnament, it is wholly useless if the kids involved and their parent(s)/ carer(s) reckon (and opine loudly and relentlessly) that the teacher is a t@sser, that schooling is for t@ssers and that only t@ssers cooperate in any way with the teacher.

    To be quite specific, I am very taken by your apparent incredulity over the following

    which leads me to ask:

    Is there one single education system furth of England which proclaims the heresy that books are reactionary tools and that the rôle of the teacher is to construct 28/ 30/ 32/ 34 worksheets with individualised plans for every child in the class?

    To the best of my knowledge, not only are text books de rigeur in Finland but they also have retained this historical supremacy of status in all of western Europe right up till the present.

    But nobody in Whitehall seems to have noticed.Or more likely they don't care as real children in England don't go to state schools !

    And as for the worn out teachers ? Well they're not real people either, are they ?

    ***** wept !
  12. Thisismytruth

    Thisismytruth New commenter

    'And again sorry for no paragraphs - how do i put paragraphs in????'

    The TES site responds only to Internet Explorer, it seems.
  13. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    [​IMG] A palpable hit.. in that context only, naturalmente, Frank !
    The rest of your post is very interesting. The thread's question seems to be whether the Finnish system's classiness resides principally in its sensible structuring of the day and refusal to abandon textbooks for modish ballax - or in the pay conditions and respect accorded to teachers (pace the TES article) or the absence of a Private Sector hoovering out the middle classes.
    A combination of all three factors, no doubt.
    I would like to know more - perhaps we can call Karvol back in at this point - about those PISAs that the journos love to harp on about. Are these Hard Currency, or do we have yet another Naked Emperor in our midst? And what are the arguments? Genuinely uninstructed and would like to hear from y'all.
  14. Just to clarify, I am training in primary so none of what I say relates to secondary in any way. No there is not one education system that assumes teachers much construct worksheets all of the time. That is not what I am suggesting. What I am saying is that having been on my course for some time we are generally led to believe that learning should be very practical, creative etc, although that is not to say there is no place for worksheets and textbooks. Because of this I was surprised to see such reliance on textbooks although that is not to say that I believe this practice is wrong or right. :)
  15. Food for thought...I believe each year group has the same teacher throughout primary. Maybe our Finnophile would like to clarify this and offer an opinion on the advantages and disadvantages of being with the same group for X number of years if this is the case.
  16. Am I said Finnophile?
    I am speaking purely from experience in one school here although I am fairly sure it is the same throughout the country. It seems that teachers can choose whether they keep their class for 3 years, or the 6 years of school. My teacher who I worked with chose to have hers for 3 rather than the 6 because she felt that her students would benefit from different ways of teaching.
    In my opinion..
    Benefits - maintain a relationship/improve a relationship over an extended period of time. Know the students incredibly well and their needs. Knowledge of what they have done previously is more accurate perhaps than through changing of teachers. Everything is familiar - good for any child who struggles with change.
    Disadvantages - stuck with the same teacher and same methods for a long time. Not sure on any others although I am sure there probably are some.
  17. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    A huge disadvantage.
    It isn't just a question of the 'same methods', although a child who grows up thinking there's only one method is already falling behind in the lifelong-learner stakes.
    It's to do with the adult's personality and his/her way of facing the world and the children. Much more important than slightly different instrumentalities in getting the curriculum 'delivered', is the potential gain in emotional intelligence for the children, in encountering at close quarters different ways of being adult. Older and younger teachers, males and females if your Primary School is lucky enough to have a decent quota of the former, people of different nationalities if you're really 'international'.
    Children are 'stuck with' their parents - although goodness knows, these can be worryingly unpredictable and inconsistent at times - they should not be similarly confined over a long period to only one Significant Non-Family Adult.
    Even the wisest, saintliest Primary teacher, even the one with a Masters in Child Development, has predispositions, favourites and blind spots. Relationships of favour-and-out-of-favour, or opinions early fixed and never revised about a child's abilities and personality, always do harm.
    As a parent I would be absolutely militant about the need for annual change, and fortunately when we arrived this was already school policy, otherwise I'd have changed it in the same sweeping manner that I recently abolished staff non-contact time, pension payments and free lunch.
    Yes, there are children who fear change, but they'd better get used to it in our crazy world - half of them will see their parents divorce before they reach adulthood, after all. For younger children, a year is an eternity, and if they've spent three long terms with Ms Sweetie or Mr Niceboy they are always ready for some variety however much they may have loved them. If the school has low mobility, Mr N. and Ms S. will always be in the playground for a hug or a chat, and if there's high turnover, you can't aspire to continuity anyway.
    More common than change-averse children are teachers who fear a new challenge, who either have persuaded themselves that they are the indispensable fairy godparent to a certain group (see another active thread here) or who can't be arrssed to 'learn' a new group of kids, so opt to settle down for the long easy haul, all the while purring platitudes to parents and management about 'continuity' and 'secure relationships.'
    Lest we forget, it is May 1st.
    Long LIve The Workers!
    (that is, those of us in the middle classes doing 60-hour weeks and paying 40% tax)

  18. Thank goodness for the above as it creates employment.
  19. SMT dude - I totally agree with you, although it is a system that seems to work for them.

    Happy May day!
  20. And for me too.

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