Witnessing the development and expression of perspective is one of the joys of raising little people into adulthood. My son had a “buddy over” and my listening in—aka eavesdropping—content was surprising in its breadth.
Carson and his 13-year-old buddy, my 11-year-old daughter Morgan, and her 5-year-old sister Abigail sat around the dining room table mowing down lunch when the “T” word reared its ugly head. The pre-kindergartner asked Carson’s buddy with an eye roll, “Why are you talking about this Donald Trump?”
“Great question Abby!” screamed my inner mom voice thinking how politics can turn a fun social occasion into a misery. Carson and his buddy proceeded to fill the table in about Mr. T’s activities and his seeming dislike for women. They shared specific examples of Mr. T’s political platform. My 5th grader chimed in her dislike of Donald’s plan to change her chances to learn in school.
It was satisfying to appreciate how personally this group of kids was taking the public discourse. I suggested we all consider moving to Finland if a Trump presidency occurs.
“Finland?” the puzzled politicos asked while scrambling for a mental image of the world map.
“It sounds like everything you want in your country, is already happening in Finland,” I explained.
Great things about Finland
- Formal schooling begins at age 7
- Kids learn through play
- Society believes education is essential
- Society and teachers promote respect for nature; students are outside every hour
- No homework
From Joe Hill’s Thrills Tumbler
- Schools are equally funded
- Little standardized testing
From John Corey Whaley Tumbler
- Community ownership in the education system
- Emphasis is cooperation, not competition
- More access to teachers
Jan-gebhardt blog post, Europe
- Low cost overall to society
- Higher graduation rates
- Higher rates of economic success after school
“In Finland we orientate more towards learning and working than towards marking and evaluating,” offers a Finnish teacher. From Dana Daporta’s article Finland’s A+ Schools, for Weareteachers.com.
This offering is the type of direct instruction our system may use as a growing tool.
Mr. Trump’s commentary triggered a visceral reaction followed by thoughtful discourse over this lunch. This group of young people–through talking and listening to each other– uncovered strategies they deemed logical for a positive societal future.
And an American dining room felt a little more like Finland.
And this tidbit:
“In a recent analysis of educational reform policies in Finland, Pasi Sahlberg (2009) describes how since the 1970s Finland has changed its traditional education system ‘into a model of a modern, publicly financed education system with widespread equity, good quality, large participation – all of this at reasonable cost’ (p. 2). In addition to the gains in measured achievement, there have been huge gains in educational attainment at the upper secondary and college levels.”
Steady Work: How Finland Is Building a Strong Teaching and Learning System by Linda Darling Hammond
How would you like to bring some Finland into your life?