Being Out-America’d

The official mascot of The Mighty F is the Fennec fox.

In “Finnish Him” a recent post from the clever, humorous  blog, The Mighty F: Discussing Things that Start with F, (think Carl Hiaasen/Mark Twain), the author expounds on the successes of Finland.

“Finland is so hot right now! Number one in education, chock-full of beautiful, athletic people, close to the top of the Happiness Index, boatloads of reindeer, world-class infrastructure, dominant in all those economic/health/quality of life categories; the Finns are absolutely crushin’ it.”

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Matt to the Rescue

On July 30, 2011, actor Matt Damon, whose mother is a teacher, gave a speech to 5,000 teachers, parents and others who attended the Save Our Schools march near the White House to protest the Obama administration’s education policies that are centered on standardized tests.

You can read Matt’s entire speech on Valerie Strauss’s Washington Post blog, The Answer Sheet: Matt Damon’s clear-headed speech to teachers rally


The Five Minute University – Who Woulda Guessed?

I find that education, it don’t matter where you go to school, Italy, America, Brazil, all are the same — it’s all this memorization and it don’t matter how long you can remember anything just so you can parrot it back for the tests.

I got this idea for a school I would like to start, something called the Five Minute University. The idea is that in five minutes you learn what the average college graduate remembers five years after he or she is out of school.     -Father Guido Sarducci – (Saturday Night Live, 1978)

In the age of Watergate, Apartheid, the U.S. pulling out of Vietnam, the beginning of Microsoft, VCRs, floppy discs, pocket calculators, the death of Elvis, and the first test-tube baby, we laughed watching Saturday Night Live when Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello) entertained us with his idea for a “Five Minute University”.  Fast forward 30 years; across the globe from China to America today’s educators seriously agree with this talented, creative SLN comedian. Less IS more. Based on contemporary research, we now know that students cannot learn with understanding when “curriculum content is a mile wide and an inch deep”.  Who woulda guessed?

The Power of Metaphor

Bicycle Project Learning Model

In their book, 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, co-authors Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel use the bicycle as a metaphor to vividly illustrate how the organization and flow of project-learning, which is based on inquiry, moves forward. Current brain research supports the power of pictures and metaphors when it comes to teaching, learning and remembering.

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21st Century Research into Practice

Canadian educator and presenter Darren Kuropatwa asks the question, “How does new media facilitate and support deep thinking?”  Look on his Scoopit, Learning, for answers.  Darren is a “teacher’s teacher” of the highest caliber.

Why Design Thinking?

In response to a comment on his failures, Edison said,
“I have discovered 5,000 things that don’t work.”

What makes Design Thinking a unique creative process?  Design Thinking uses divergent logic not convergent logic and looks at a problem from multiple perspectives.  Using Design Thinking, students learn patience, perseverance, and collaboration.   Discover more about design thinking in education from these sites.

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Please Translate this Finnish “Siesta”

This clever video created by Finnish pupils of the Aurora School in Helsinki follows a little alien as she/he learns about “Siesta”, the 75-minute recess each day of the week from 11:30-12:45.  This is a time when students can do whatever they want: music, sports, drama, dance or simply work on their homework.  It appears from my place on our planet that with a little adult supervision the kids manage “Siesta” time.

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“Guide on the Side”- Gattegno’s Pedagogy

Caleb Gattegno 1911 – 1988

Canadian educator, Darren Kuropatwa recently added to his “Learning” Scoop it! the French website Une Education Pour Demain  sponsored by “an association of teachers, speech therapists, parents, and other people interested in exploring and putting into practice Caleb Gattegno’s theories of subordinating teaching to learning.”

During his lifetime, Gattegno argued that for pedagogical actions to be effective, teaching should be subordinated to learning, which requires that as an absolute prerequisite teachers must understand how people learn.

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The Secret of Finland’s Educational Success: Equality, Cooperation

“The problem facing education in America isn’t the ethnic diversity of the population but the economic inequality of society, and this is precisely the problem that Finnish education reform addressed. More equity at home might just be what America needs to be more competitive abroad.”

– Pasi Sahlberg

Cheri Harwood’s Scoop! Design Thinking in Education

Cheri Harwood curates a “Scoop it” on design thinking in education, “Let’s Learn about Design Thinking for Education Together”.  Learn more about preparing students for the 21st century by teaching a process that incorporates empathy, creative thinking, risk-taking, problem-solving skills and team collaboration: Design Thinking 4 Education.

Ilana Ben-Ari’s Scoop! Creativity and Play


Another great “Scoop”, Ilana Ben-Ari, teacher and toy designer for visually impaired children, curates  “A collection of articles about education in the 21st century”: Education Revolution: Mass Creativity and Play.   Here also is a link to her blog Play Learn Think Think.

Play Fosters Creativity and Problem-Solving Skills

Jill Vialet believes that playing is essential to human development, and addresses significant education reform issues by encouraging greater creativity and problem-solving skills. This approach, she says, creates learning environments where kids feel safer, more engaged and more connected. Jill launched Playworks in 1996 in Berkeley, California. (Quoted from You Tube)

Jill Barseghian’s, May 13, 2011 Mindshift article, Teaching Kids the Rules of the Game, also emphasizes play as  vital to children’s education.