Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Rethinking Education

I don't believe homework works. I think that if kids aren't learning what they need to in six hours at school, there's some thing wrong and the answer isn't to make them continue working when they get home. After school my kids (5 & 7) are knackered and in no mood for learning. I think it's doing them more harm than good and I absolutely hate forcing them to do it. It also gets in the way of extracurricular activities, to the point where we have to think carefully about whether they get to do these activities or practice spelling. It shouldn't be like that. My kids get less recreation time each day than I do. That's so wrong.

The infographic below makes for interesting reading. This isn't the first time I've heard about Finland's radical rethink of their school system. Apparently they used to have poor test performances until they dumped standardized testing, then their education outcomes improved dramatically. There are a bunch of things they do differently so it's hard to say which is having the most effect. But if these facts are true* then we should be taking notice.

By the way, Finland is the country that Gerry Brownlee said "hardly educates their people". Gerry, that country you mocked is kicking our butts. What does that say about our education system?

Finland Education System

*I haven't verified these facts - can anyone? I've read a lot of comments from Finns and they are mostly supportive with only a few disagreeing about the accuracy of this infographic. Also, I don't know who to credit the graphic to - sorry about that.


  1. absolutely agree with this. It might also be interesting to compare some other statistics... children don't turn up to school as completely blank canvasses; would be interesting to compare exclusive breastfeeding rates between NZ and Finland; plus also, at what age do children start school there? Most countries don't start kids at school until they are 6yrs old - also the legal requirement in NZ although everyone packs their kids off at 5yrs old. Imagine the savings that the school system could make if the Government was not funding education, such as it is, for a huge number of kids that they are not legally obliged to. Then maybe class sizes for other students could be a bit smaller. Just a thought. Homeschooling parents, for example, get no government contribution for THEIR five year olds.

  2. As a (past) teacher I would tell my (high school) students that I did not believe in homework, which I don't. That I had planned my lessons to be accomplished in the alloted period of time, and, if they came prepared to class prepared (on time, pens, paper, books)and focused their attention to the lesson and not to socialising, or other lesson-irrelevant activities then they would not have homework. However if the lesson work was not finished in that period then they would have to complete it as homework. Very rarely did a student not have homework. At the lower levels, I see homework serving a duel purpose: it reinforces the concepts taught at school (the three R's) and it provides parents with the opportunity to monitor their child's progress. There is no justifiable cause for excessive amounts of homework.

  3. This does make for very intersting reading. The thing that stands out for me is that the student teacher ratio is 1:12 in Finland. My daughter has about 28 classmates in her Year 8 class; my son has 30-something classmates in his Year 10 class; I have 28 students in my Year 3-4 class. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to start the school year with just 12 students in my Year 1 class. (By the end of the year there were well over 20.) I can say without a doubt that I was able to meet those students' individual needs in a way that I never could with a larger class.

    Homework is always a contentious issue in school. As a parent, I hate homework. As a teacher, I loathe homework. Research suggests that homework has a minimal impact on student learning. The only reason I set homework is because it is school policy and the only reason it is school policy is because the families in our community have made it clear that they want their students to do homework. Ironically, many of them then complain about their students having homework or give excuses for why it wasn't done. The other parent's complain that their child hasn't been given enough. It seems we can't win either way!

  4. Neat infographic! Thanks for sharing =D

  5. I honestly thinkit all starts at home. It's the parents job to initiate the teaching and learning process, and no matter what the teachers do or how well they do it, the learning process will be crippled if the parents are'nt fulfilling their obligations as teachers. Just my take.

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