The pleasures of being a digital voyager, I can sit in my chair and my knowledgeable guide Michael Portillo has made all the arrangements for me to explore; Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Modern technology brings the world to me, in earlier centuries the printed book did the same thing without the amazing panoramic pictures of the beautiful lakes and the interesting buildings in towns spread out before me. And perhaps the most amazing thing is these strangers speak to me in English, the only language that I understand, they probably also speak German and Russian. These countries have a long history of being ruled by their neighbours, in recent years these small countries have been in charge of their own affairs. Finland has made enormous strides both economically and educationally. The PISA report by the OECD has found that the education of all Finnish children to be very high in ; maths, science and reading. Finland also tops the ranking of Global Information Technology growth rate, one of the highest in the OECD, since the 1990s economic growth has been dominated by electronics and the electrotechnics industries. Investment in Research and Development has also been high.
It is clear that the government of Finland has come to the conclusion that the best resource the country has is its people, all its people, not a tiny percentage of the elite but everyone. Teaching is a difficult profession to get into, very high standards are set. Therefore teaching is a highly regarded profession with a reasonable standard of pay.
There are no standardised tests in the early years and the children are not in competition with each other, the reverse is true. Children who have mastered a task are encouraged to help those who are having difficulties. My understanding is that this leads to an absence of bullying which is common in far too many classrooms in England. Indeed is accepted as ‘normal’ with the extreme distress that this causes many individuals, not to mention the premature failure of some of the brightest students. I have experienced this with my own family.
The Scandinavian countries are geographically close by and historically share much of our history, yet we always look to the USA which has a dismal record of treating the many different minorities who live there. A broader outlook has much to recommend it.
I have been a teacher and a lecturer for a number of years. I am married with two sons. I'm interested drama, films, TV, books, society in general, poverty and riches and political systems.
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