Tag Archives: conference

What can we learn from Finland?

Kids sitting at desks in classDiane Ravitch, an internationally recognized expert on education, has been expressing dismay about current education reforms in the United States. In this blog, she describes her trip to Finland and her amazement at how different Finnish educational goals are from American ones. Diane contrasts the guiding principles of the American education system: “competition, accountability, and choice,” with those of Finland: “equity, creativity, and prosperity.”

On November 5th at the People for Education Conference,  we’ll hear about Finland from the horse’s mouth (so to speak). Pasi Sahlberg will be at the conference to talk about why Finland is so different, and so successful. Pasi speaks around the world about education issues. He’s wonderfully articulate about what true success looks like, about the purpose of great education, and about how to lay the groundwork for good reform. He advises governments around the world (though it’s hard to believe right now that many are listening) and he’s currently helping the Alberta government “de-clutter” their K to 12 curriculum. We have a lot to learn from Finland, but we seem resistant.

Read Diane Ravitch’s blog. You can read Pasi Salhberg’s blog too. Come to the conference. Let’s see if we can change our collective thinking about education.

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Energized by the conference!

The day was packed – with people, information, networking, ideas, questions and plans. Over 250 people came from around the province – from places as far afield as New Liskeard and Thunder Bay, Port Elgin and Windsor, London and Kitchener, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, Cornwall, and Ottawa, and everywhere in between. Here are just a few of the comments from conference participants:

“Very informative and great use of different learning methods – panels, workshops, lectures etc.”
“The workshop topics were wonderful – just too many to choose from. I wish there were more sessions.”
“Thank you so much for an energizing day. I appreciate the open and welcoming climate in which disparate ideas can be exchanged.”

Dennis Shirley, an international expert on education, told attendees about “The Fourth Way,” a new road map for education in the 21st century. You can see and hear it too:

Participants listened to a debate about testing, and discussed other ways of measuring success and ensuring accountability. (Could we do random sample testing of smaller groups of students – saving time and money? Could we add more things to our measurement arsenal: Attendance, for example? Or student engagement? Student and parent surveys?)

We learned how school councils can set up their own websites and use technology to communicate with parents and about how to navigate the world of special education.

There is lots of information about the conference on the People for Education website and there are many discussions going on about the topics raised in our online community. So please join in, because together we can be part of developing new policy and engaging more people in thinking about how our schools could work best for students in the 21st century.

We’re already working on next year’s conference. So stay in touch.

Watch this video to get a taste of what the day was like!