Category Archives: About learning

11 Ways Finland’s Education System Shows Us that “Less is More”.

One could do worse for a framework to review what we all do as educators. Well worth the time to read and reflect.

Filling My Map

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When I left my 7th grade math classroom for my Fulbright research assignment in Finland I thought I would come back from this experience with more inspiring, engaging, innovative lessons.  I expected to have great new ideas on how to teach my mathematics curriculum and I would revamp my lessons so that I could include more curriculum, more math and get students to think more, talk more and do more math.

This drive to do more and More and MORE is a state of existence for most teachers in the US….it is engrained in us from day one.  There is a constant pressure to push our students to the next level to have them do bigger and better things.  The lessons have to be more exciting, more engaging and cover more content.  This phenomena  is driven by data, or parents, or administrators or simply by our work-centric society where we…

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Failure the path to success…

As Paul Tough says in his text, How Children Succeed:

“Character is created by encountering and overcoming failure”.

Do we allow enough time between one high-stakes/ high pressure assessment and the next for failure to be experienced? Do we allow students enough latitude – enough responsibility – to try and, as a result of their own efforts, to fail? Is there enough time after trying and failing to allow the kind of reflective dialogue and analysis to learn from it?

If only the answer were yes – but the very structure of schooling and assessment makes it nigh on impossible to do so.

What is education…?

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Simple idea – why so hard to enact?

Based on not insubstantial research, Professor Carol Dweck‘s ‘big idea’ can perhaps simplistically be summed up as follows: if you think learning is about developing the mental tools to do so more effectively and efficiently, you’ll be better at learning. If you think it’s about not looking dumb then as soon as your ‘natural’ ability to learn peaks and you start to look dumb, you’ll be less effective and efficient as a learner – because you’ll want to avoid situations that may show you up.

In her 2000 text, Self-theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development (Essays in Social Psychology), Dweck outlines the findings from decades of research. And that research boils down to this: if, as educators, we encourage students by the right kind of praise to see challenges in a positive light rather than as a personal crisis, they will be better lifelong learners, with esteem based on their skills as learners rather than on some supposedly innate potential to know ‘stuff’.