Finland Teacher Tales Pt. 2: Snakes and Ladders

I keep hearing how great the Finnish school system is. 

Is it though?

“When you know better you do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

When Australian educators think of Finnish schools they picture short school days, plenty of play time, no homework, no tests, equity, equality, 100% literacy – and a system that outperforms most other nations (according to PISA test scores).

When Finns think of Australian schools they probably imagine tired teachers and anxious students fighting off man-eating crocodiles, angry sharks, giant spiders and venomous snakes - while earnestly trying to get ready for yet another standardised test.

I am visiting schools in Helsinki and Oslo to explode a few myths and share and discover some truths in an ‘exchange of ideas’ tour. While I do have a few interesting stories to tell (like that time a snake really did enter my Kindergarten classroom) I look forward to comparing and contrasting Australian curricula, pedagogy and classroom practice with those used in Finland and Norway.

I also want to find the answer to this question: For all our money and effort, why is Australia still so far behind Finland on the OECD PISA ladder?

BTW - Read this chilling news article of how several nests of Eastern Brown Snake eggs were discovered in a Kindergarten sandpit at Laurieton Public School, NSW.

Got any good 'snakes in schools' stories I can share with the Finnish and Norwegian teachers? Add them here. At least we can beat the Finns in some things!

Oh, and have a good first day back at school (but please check the sandpit before the kids play in it).

James Phelps

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