Day 290: Taking Education Reform a Step Further

I read this article today:

Goodbye, math and history: Finland wants to abandon teaching subjects at school 

Finland already has one of the best school education systems. It always ranks near the top in mathematics, reading, and science in the prestigious PISA rankings (the 2012 list, pdf) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Teachers in other countries flock to its schools to learn from a country that is routinely praised as just a really, really wonderful place to live. 

But the country is not resting on its laurels. Finland is considering its most radical overhaul of basic education yet—abandoning teaching by subject for teaching by phenomenon. Traditional lessons such as English Literature and Physics are already being phased out among 16-year-olds in schools in Helsinki.

Instead, the Finns are teaching phenomena—such as the European Union, which encompasses learning languages, history, politics, and geography. No more of an hour of history followed by an hour of chemistry. The idea aims to eliminate one of the biggest gripes of students everywhere: “What is the point of learning this?” Now, each subject is anchored to the reason for learning it.

This sounds like practical idea. It makes more sense to design curriculum to facilitate an understanding of the inter-relationships of subjects in the context of the world, rather than to just learn about a subject in isolation. For instance in middle school and high school I remember classes basically being compartmentalized their individual subjects, separate from each other.

Though I would say what is still missing in the way we look at our approach to education is the question of, what kind of world are we training our children to accept? What principles are we training our children to live by?

No matter how effective in math, or in reading, or in understanding politics or geography or science you are, there still remains the question of, as a human being, how do you define your purpose and responsibility in relation to humanity and life on Earth as a whole? What value do you place as the driving principle behind your decision making? What values are the most practical to stick to, that will support decision making, problem solving, critical thinking, laws, and government aligned toward implementing solutions for enhancing and supporting an excellent quality of life for All?

Imagine you’d been asked these kinds of questions from a young age. Imagine if from a young age, you’d been shown how your life, your family, your education, your future, is going to impact not just you, but all life on Earth, through what you decide you will accept and allow to exist on Earth and thus what will become the basis of your goals and expression in life?

I mean what happens when you’re taught that the world around you only impacts you from a perspective of giving you opportunities to find ways of being happy and taking care of only your own life, and you are not seeing the context of the wider consequences of your individual acceptances and allowances? For example not seeing how the consequence of millions of people individually seeing their own lives as more important than others, has the result of everyone accepting an economic system that places individual profit as more important than providing a dignified life for everyone, because everyone is too busy enriching their own lives instead of working together, standing together and coming up with solutions that will benefit everyone.

Suggested reading is the Teacher’s Journey to Life blog, which approaches education from a starting point of practical, progressive solutions to support the development of children to reach their full potential as a responsible, practical, self honest human being:

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