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    Onderwijskrant Vlaanderen
    Vernieuwen: ja, maar in continuïteit!
    06-08-2014
    Klik hier om een link te hebben waarmee u dit artikel later terug kunt lezen.Onderwijs. Uitvluchten van Pasi Sahlberg omtrent lage leerprestaties Finse 15-jarigen

    Pasi Sahlberg  zoekt uitvluchten voor daling PISA-score en voor zwakke leerprestaties volgens studies van de universiteit van Helsinki

    Pasi Sahlberg on Finland's Recent PISA Results

    By Marc Tucker on  February 14, 2014  (Education Week) + commentaar van Raf Feys (Onderwijskrant)

    For years following the release of the 2001 and subsequent PISA results, edutourists visited Finland hoping to uncover their secrets.  In the most recent survey, Finland's position had slipped from 2nd to 5th in reading, from 6th to 12th in mathematics and from 3rd to 5th in science.  I recently talked with Pasi Sahlberg to better understand what could have contributed to this fall in the rankings.  As former Director General of CIMO (Center for International Mobility and Cooperation) at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland he is in a good place to know.  Pasi recently joined Harvard University's Graduate School of Education as a visiting professor, teaching a course on international lessons from successful education systems, and is working on the sequel to his popular book, Finnish Lessons.

    Marc Tucker: How has Finland reacted to the news of the latest PISA results?

    Pasi Sahlberg: The results did not surprise the Finns, because our own data monitoring student achievement and a recent study by the University of Helsinki published a month before the PISA results came out anticipated the PISA results. Their study compared skills in 82 randomly selected schools in Finland between 2001 and 2012 and the results showed the decline in mathematics and reading performance that was then confirmed by PISA.  (NvOnderwijskrant: Eigen evaluatiestudies van de universiteit Helsinki van 2004, 2°10 & 2012 wees uit dat de Finse 15-jarigen opvallend zwak presteerden voor de doelstellingen van de basisvakken. Naar de buitenwereld toe werd dit steeds verzwegen. Ook al in 2005 was er een alarmerend manifest van 200 docenten wiskunde die waarschuwden dat de PISA-wiskundescore 2003 misleidend was en dat de Finse 18-19 jarigen voor de echte wiskunde zwak scoorden bij de start van het hoger onderwijs. Dat betekent dat de 15-jarigen al bij de afname van PISA-2003 volgens de Finse wiskundexperts zwak presteerden voor de echte (schoolse) wiskunde. Sahlberg wekt ten onrechte de indruk dat de zwakke wiskundeprestaties op de eigen evaluatietests van recente datum zijn. Die zwakke prestaties voor de echte wiskunde zijn ook veel erger dan de achtergang voor de PISA-wiskunde.)

    MT: What did the Finns think caused this?

    PS: Finland had done very little to improve students' mathematics performance since the first PISA results had come in 12 years ago.  Many of us had pointed out that other countries with high PISA scores had continued to improve their systems, but Finland did not do that.  The situation in education in Finland appears to be similar to the situation at Nokia, Finland's international champion in the telecommunications industry.  When Apple came out with the iPhone, Nokia had the dominant position in the cell phone industry and, blinded by its success, failed to recognize the challenge.  Nokia had invented the touch screen, but failed to take the next step, which Apple did, leapfrogging Nokia.   This is similar to the situation in education.  The huge flow of foreigners from all over the world to visit the remarkably successful Finnish schools made the authorities fearful of changing anything.  The drive of the 1990s activists in education has been extinguished. (NvdR: Sahlberg debiteert hier een drogreden.) There is another factor that should be considered.  Non-Finnish speaking immigrants are coming to Finland in larger numbers than ever before.  This time they have a big enough number in the PISA sample to see how they performed compared to their peers. (NvdR: Sahlberg verzweeg in het verleden dat  de hoge Finse PISA-score ook een en ander te maken has met het beperkte aantal allochtone leerlingen.)

    MT: I gather that Finland has a new education minister.  How did she react to Finland's scores on the latest PISA survey? 

    PS: Our new Minister of Education promised to conduct a national campaign to examine the results and make recommendations that could lead to a renewal of the whole compulsory education system.  She does not want to look at just math and science.  In fact, no one has responded to the data by saying Finland needs to focus just on math and reading, or on any other silver bullet.  Instead, the discussion is about how Finland can improve the system as a whole and increase enjoyment in learning.  It is not just about how to improve our performance on PISA.(NvdR: voor enjoyment in learning scoorden de Finse 15-jarigen in PISA-2012 opvallend zwak. Sahlberg wekte in het verleden steeds de indruk dat de leerlingen super gemotiveerd waren en dat de betrokkenheid heel hoog was.)

    MT: I recall that, before 2000, when Finland participated in the first PISA survey, there was a lot of pressure from some people in Finland for the use of market-oriented reforms, test-based accountability systems and so on.  What happened to those agendas?  Is there renewed pressure to adopt reform measures of that sort now?

    PS: Prior to the release of the first PISA reports in 2001, many in the traditional academic community and in the business community pressed hard for measures designed to enable students to begin focusing on STEM skills as early as middle school, scheduling more examinations earlier in a student's career in school and introducing choice and competition among schools. (NvdR:  Finland en Sahlberg hadden beter de vele klachten over het lage niveua vanwege de docenten en leraars ernstig genomen i.p.v. ze te weerleggen met de PISA-cijfers.) That all came to a sudden end when the first PISA results came out.  We had managed to be highly successful at accomplishing the goals of these reformers without adopting their proposed reforms.  Many in Finland believe that PISA saved Finland from reforms that would not have been good, either for teachers or the country.  But these events, while staving off unhelpful reforms, created another problem, as I said earlier in this interview:  All change in Finland, both good and bad, came to an end, and we lost our capacity to renew and adapt to a changing environment. (NvdR: Waarom zweeg Sahlberg hier dan over in zijn boek ‘Finnish lessons’ en wekte hij de indruk dat het Fins onderwijs en de Finse leraars innovatie-minded waren?)

    MT: One path to change would be to look at the strategies used by the countries that lead the global league tables and pick a set that seems appropriate for Finland.  Does that appeal to you?

    PS: At one level there is some appeal to this approach.  In the US, there are advanced schools that are doing things that Finnish schools should be doing.  Finnish high school students who spend a year in some U.S. high schools say that these schools are better than their opposite numbers in Finland at helping students communicate, present ideas and debate meaningful issues.  And there are pockets of excellent practice and innovation in some American schools in the area of integrating technology and new learning devices into the schools.   Shanghai has built a system for low-performing schools to get help from others that Finland can learn from.  The lesson study idea and way it is used in Japan and Singapore is very attractive.  There is not one country's system that the Finns should simply imitate. Finns need to realize that they have a lot to learn from all of their international partners in both the East and the West, but at the same time, further advance equity-oriented policies and reforms.

    MT: What do you think the next generation of change in Finland should look like?

    PS: Finland should not be gauging its success only by measuring student achievement in the academic subjects.  Schools need to help many more people find out what their strengths are, what they are curious and passionate about. The school system should be designed to inspire students and to enable them to lead happy, fulfilled lives both at work and outside of the workplace.  We may have to invent a way of thinking about curriculum that is not so focused on the traditional academic subjects and time allocation.  That is, I think, a worthy goal for the next stage of Finnish education reform.

    Bijlage: View of Finnish teachers versus view of Pasi Sahlberg

    Oxford- Prof. Jennifer Chung ( AN INVESTIGATION OF REASONS FOR FINLAND’S SUCCESS IN PISA (University of Oxford 2008).

    “Many of the teachers mentioned the converse of the great strength of Finnish education (= de grote aandacht voor kinderen met leerproblemen) as the great weakness.  Jukka S. (BM) believes that school does not provide enough challenges for intelligent students: “I think my only concern is that we give lots of support to those pupils who are underachievers, and we don’t give that much to the brightest pupils.  I find it a problem, since I think, for the  future of a whole nation, those pupils who are really the stars should be supported, given some more challenges, given some more difficulty in their exercises and so on.  To not just spend  their time here but to make some effort and have the idea to become something, no matter what field you are choosing, you must not only be talented like they are, but work hard.  That is needed. “

    Pia (EL)  feels that the schools do not motivate very intelligent students to work.   She thinks the schools should provide more challenges for the academically talented students.  In fact, she thinks the current school system in Finland does not provide well for its students.  Mixed-ability classrooms, she feels, are worse than the previous selective system: “ I think this school is for nobody.  That is my private opinion. Actually I think so, because when you have all these people at mixed levels in your class, then you have to concentrate on the ones who need the most help, of course.  Those who are really good, they get lazy. “

    Pia believes these students become bored and lazy, and float through school with no study skills.  Jonny (EM) describes how comprehensive education places the academically gifted at a disadvantage: “We have lost a great possibility when we don’t have the segregated levels of math and natural sciences… That should be once again taken back and started with.  The good talents are now torturing themselves with not very interesting education and  teaching in classes that aren’t for their best.

    Pia (EL) finds the PISA frenzy about Finland amusing, since she believes the schools have declined in recent years: “I think [the attention] is quite funny because school isn’t as good as it used to be … I used to be proud of being a teacher and proud of this school, but I can’t say I ’m proud any more.”

    Aino (BS) states that the evenness and equality of the education system has a “dark side.” Teaching to the “middle student” in a class of heterogeneous ability bores the gifted students, who commonly do not perform well in school.  Maarit (DMS) finds teaching heterogeneous classrooms very difficult.  She admits that dividing the students into ability levels would make the teaching easier, but worries that it may affect the self-esteem of the weaker worse than a more egalitarian system        Similarly, Terttu (FMS) thinks that the class size is a detriment to the students’ learning.  Even though Finnish schools have relatively small class sizes, she thinks that a group of twenty is too large, since she does not have time for all of the students: “You don’t have enough time for everyone … All children have to be in the same class.  That is not so nice.  You have the better pupils.  I can’t give them as much as I want.  You have to go so slowly in the classroom.”   Curiously, Jukka E. (DL) thinks that the special education students need more support and the education system needs to improve in that area.

    Miikka (FL) describes how he will give extra work to students who want to have more academic challenges, but admits that “they can get quite good grades, excellent grades, by doing nothing actually, or very little.”  Miikka (FL) describes discussion in educational circles about creating schools and universities for academically talented students: 3 Everyone has the same chances…One problem is that it can be  too easy for talented students.  There has been now discussion in Finland if there should be schools and universities for talented students… I think it will happen, but I don’t know if it is good, but it will happen, I think so.  I am also afraid there will be private schools again in Finland in the future … [There] will be more rich people and more poor people, and then will come so [many] problems in comprehensive schools that some day quite  soon … parents will demand that we should have private schools  again, and that is quite sad.

     

    Linda (AL), however, feels the love of reading has declined in the younger generation, as they tend to gravitate more to video games and television.   Miikka (FL), also a teacher of mother tongue, also cites a decline in reading interest and an increase of video game and computer play.  Saij a (BL) agrees. As a teacher of Finnish, she feels that she has difficulty motivating her students to learn: “I think my subject is not the … easiest one to teach.   They don’t read so much, newspapers or novels.”  Her students, especially the boys, do not like their assignments in Finnish language.  She also thinks the respect for teachers has declined in this past generation.  Miikka (FL) also thinks his students do not respect their teachers: “They don’t respect the teachers.  They respect them very little …  I think it has changed a lot in recent years.  In Helsinki, it was actually earlier.  When I came here six years ago, I thought this  was heaven.   I thought it was incredible, how the children were  like that after Helsinki, but now I think it is the same.

    Linda (AL) notes deficiency in the amount of time available for subjects.  With more time, she would implement more creative activities, such as speech and drama, into her lessons.  Saij a (BL) also thinks that her students need more arts subjects like drama and art.  She worries that they consider mathematics as the only important subject.  Shefeels countries such as Sweden, Norway, and England have better arts programs than in Finnish schools.  Arts subjects, according to Saij a, help the students get to know themselves.  Maarit (DMS), a Finnish-speaker, thinks that schools need to spend more time cultivating social skills.




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