Tag Archives: education reform

Re-blog: Educators Who Inspire Spotlight Series


Today, I (Pooja) wanted to share a new online series created by my friend. Curious by international educational reform, her series aims to shed light on the insights and work of “educators who inspire” form around the globe. Her first spotlight introduces us to an educator, Aaron Eden, from the Green School in Bali. Eden is the Director of Entrepreneurial  Enterprise Learning at the Green School. Watch the interview and hear Eden’s thoughts on educational reform.





Reasons the U.S. Schooling System is Failing?

Education Week recently published an article outlining 8 (more) reasons the education system in the U.S. is failing. Matthew Lynch (2015) has put out a multi-series of articles discussing the issues which surround U.S. schooling today.Take a look at the list below. Do you feel all these items belong on this list? What is missing from this list? After reading the earlier parts of this series, I don’t see much attention paid to the state of teacher education or how teaching is viewed as a profession. I would love to hear your thoughts on this list:

  1. We still do not know how to handle high school dropouts
  2. We have not achieved education equity
  3. Technology brings a whole new dimension to cheating
  4. We still struggle with making teacher tenure benefit both students and teachers
  5. More of our schools need to consider year-round schooling
  6. We are still wrestling the achievement gap
  7. We need to consider how school security measures affect students
  8. We need to make assistive technology more available to students with disabilities

To read the entire article click here:


To read the rest first part of the series, click here:


61 Years Later…

Sunday marked the 61st anniversary of the landmark case in the U.S.:  Brown vs. Board of Education. The supreme court case declared segregated schooling unconstitutional. However, 61 years later many schools remain separate and unequal. Often students in low socio-economic neighbourhoods, which tend to have a more diverse population, remain at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts in more affluent neighbourhoods . Rebecca Klein, author at the Huffington Post, put together six powerful graphs which illustrate how far we still have to go for a truly equitable educational system. Below are a couple graphs from Klein’s article:



To read the entire article click here:


“Potentially life altering decisions”: Report Urges Ontario High Schools to End ‘Streaming’


‘Streaming’ (or ‘tracking as referred to in the U.S.) is a process of separating students based on academic ability into groups (high, medium, or low) for all or a few subjects. Much has been said about the advantages and the drawbacks of this practice. Recently, the hot button topic made it to the front pages again. The CBC described a recent report from People for Education suggesting that “asking Grade 8 students to choose between academic and applied courses in high school sets some students up for failure.” The report’s findings also make clear the socio-political nature of ‘streaming’: “students taking applied courses in Grade 9 were much less likely to go to university and that students from low-income groups were more likely to enrol in applied courses.”

To read the CBC article and the published People for Education report, click here:


Phenomenon Teaching: Finland’s New Approach


Much has been written about Finland’s exemplary education system (See:https://literacyteaching.net/2014/10/14/an-infographic-of-finlands-education-system/) They are often at the top of PISA rankings in both literacy and numeracy skills. Further, they boast small teacher to student ratios which allow for more individualized instruction. The teaching profession is also highly regarded; teachers are highly esteemed professionals like their peers doctors and lawyers. Now, Finland is reforming the way their classrooms run and everyone is talking about it. Teaching by topic (or phenomenon teaching) will replace teaching by subject throughout the country’s classrooms. This approach intends to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the “real world” and encourage collaboration among students. The Independent, a UK based blog, provides some examples of how this would be done.

Example #1:

“a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.”

 Example #2:

“…pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union – which would merge elements of economics, history (of the countries involved), languages and geography.

I like this approach because it allows students to experience subjects in a contextualized way. Phenomenon teaching makes school relevant again. I suspect much of the world, myself included, will be closely observing how this unique approach to teaching fares in Finland.

To read more from the Independent:


Happy Teaching, Happy Learning: 13 Secrets to Finland’s Success

I (Clare) read a fabulous article, Happy Teaching, Happy Learning: 13 Secrets to Finland’s Success in Education Week. http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/06/24/ctq_faridi_finland.html?tkn=XTXDqgQYqARkH8OSadND1VkL5PvV%2BGHkxJFc&intc=eschildren reading

A teacher, Sophia Faridi, visited schools in Finland where she was so impressed:

Perhaps what struck me most about schools in Finland was the relevant, genuine learning taking place right before my eyes. For example, I had the chance to sit down with a group of high school seniors working on a project examining U.N. extradition trials. Without any teacher present, students were engaged simply because the subject was important to them.

She identified 13 features of this remarkable school system.

1. A heavy emphasis on play.

2. No high-stakes standardized testing.

3. Trust.

4. Schools don’t compete with one another.

5. Out-of-this-world teacher prep programs.

6. Personal time is highly valued.

7. Less is more.

8. Emphasis on quality of life.

9. Semi-tracked learning.

10. National standards are valued.

11. Grades are not given until 4th grade.

12. Ethics is taught in the primary grades.

13. Collaboration and collaborative environments are strongly emphasized.

This article would be a great resource for discussing the big and small picture of education. It shows that in a system where teachers are valued, respected, and trusted, high quality education results.

Pasi Sahlberg: An Inspiring Educator

I (Clare) attended the BEST lecture by Pasi Sahlberg. http://pasisahlberg.com/ He was Finnish Lessonsinspiring and informative. His talk was based on his bestselling book, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? http://www.amazon.ca/Finnish-Lessons-Educational-Change-Finland-ebook/dp/B00CDSTBG6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397850067&sr=8-1&keywords=pasi+sahlberg

His talk went far beyond the book. A few highlights from were:

  • The Finnish public trust teachers.
  • Teachers are respected.
  • We cannot take the Finnish model and transplant it to another context but we can learn from HOW the Finnish people reconceptualized and approached education reform. (The main goal was not to improve PISA scores.)
  • Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) which has infected countries like the US, UK, Netherland, NZ, and Australia emphasize competition, standardization, test-based accountability, school choice, and human capital. He showed slides of student performance in these countries illustrating that performance on standardized tests has actually gone DOWN – the draconian measures the governments have imposed on teachers have not improved student performance (and probably not student engagement).
  • Finland has a common vision for education that includes great schools for each and every child.
  • The success of Finnish education is not simply a result of improved education initiatives but a whole agenda for society.
  • In Finland if a teacher is struggling, someone helps him/her.

For a copy of ppt presentation (which was amazing) click here: http://pasisahlberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/OISE-RWB-Jackson-2014.pdf  

Pasi SahlbergI have read his text and highly recommend it to others interested in true reform of education.  Quick fixes do not work but a sustained, comprehensive approach to education is the way we should be going.