Monday, November 8, 2010

Finnish education, and what to teach little kids

In Finland, kids start formal schooling at seven, and get great results. That's an interesting contrast to my previous posts contrasting Chinese and Western education. From that post, Finland looks like what educators want for the US, and that some critics (like Miss Snuffleupagus, who turns out to be Katharine Birbalsingh) think is what is ruining the system.

Another post goes into more detail about why teaching complicated concepts to young children may not be a good idea.

Some extracts:
Skills like persistence, creativity, cooperation, and communication are being left by the wayside in an effort to produce higher test scores and reach benchmarks earlier.


The Gesell Institute recommends early childhood programs for children age 3 through grade 3 that emphasize experiences and exploration.  Both of which quickly disappear from a worksheet-based classroom.  The institute  also emphasizes that these programs need to teach children to “negotiate and problem solve with peers, explore materials in creative ways, and engage in the work of making sense of their world alongside teachers who are experienced, patient and creative role models.  Unfortunately, in an effort to close achievement gaps, both schools and parents endorse the “earlier is better myth,” believing that by “learning” academic skills earlier, developmental skills will follow.  Gesell’s data proves the opposite – that developmental abilities must emerge before an academic curriculum has meaning for the child and that it stimulates a corresponding motivation to learn.”
One more thing I'll have to dig into. The message I get out of this is, trying to make a "prodigy child" by trying to teach advanced concepts to little children may backfire.

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