I guess visiting Scandinavia to find the solutions to our education problems is popular.
Following on the article from the Wall Street Journal about Finnish schools, eSchoolNews reports on the findings of a delegation from the Consortium for School Networking that visited three Scandinavian countries.
Their focus, of course, was on how the schools are using technology to improve student learning (aka test scores).
However, what they learned, as also presented in the Journal article, most of the reasons for student success have nothing to do with technology.
One key is the teacher.
In contrast to the focus on quantitative measures and standardized testing found in No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Scandinavian officials rely on a system that produces highly competent teachers who use their professional expertise to work with each student and develop individualized learning plans.
The teacher is most often viewed as a mentor, someone who has both knowledge and wisdom to impart and plays a key role in preparing students for adulthood.
And another is how they approach the assessment of student learning.
In the Danish system, the notion of grading is a foreign concept, with competitive grading postponed until high school. Students are judged in relation to their own growth, rather than that of others, and they are continuously evaluated. Teachers also write individual learning plans for each student after these evaluations.
Project-based learning begins in the first grade, and teachers work with students to structure their learning through a process described by one educator as “dialogue and trust.” Assessment is achieved primarily through a dialogue with each student, as is communication with parents about their child’s progress.
We really do have a lot to learn.