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C. M. Rubin Writer Producer The Real Alice In Wonderland book and film www.cmrubin.com

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The Global Search for Education

     “Good Teachers are critical.  It is an absolutely vital factor.” — Dr. Ben Levin

More from Canada

By C. M. Rubin with Harry Rubin and Michael Freeborn

“The U.S. cannot improve its education system for all or even most children by keeping its present focus on charter schools, more testing, teacher evaluation and union bashing.  None of those feature in the best-performing countries.  There must be a focus on helping all schools improve, combining pressure with lots of support.  That is how to improve system performance.” — Dr. Ben Levin. 

Dr. Levin is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Education Leadership and Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. He has worked with private research organizations, school districts, provincial governments, and national and international agencies, as well as building an academic and research career. He served as Deputy Minister (chief civil servant) for Education for the Province of Ontario from 2004 to 2007 and again in 2008-09.  From 1999 through 2002, he was Deputy Minister of Advanced Education and Deputy Minister of Education, Training and Youth for the Province of Manitoba.  He has published five books, most recently, How to Change 5000 Schools. His current interests are in large-scale change, poverty and inequity, and finding better ways to connect research to policy and practice in education.

What kind of educational system will permit a country to have the people skills needed to compete globally?

It’s a very broad question, but essentially the way I would answer it is that you need a system which is both high quality and high equity. That is, large numbers of students who are achieving high levels of skill and confidence, and where the gaps that are based on extraneous factors are small.

What are your views on the standardized testing currently used?

Having good reliable data on student progress and outcomes is essential to making progress.  There are lots of indicators other than tests, which are only one measure.   For example, graduation rates, participation and success in tertiary education, labor market experiences, proportions of kids referred to special education, and proportion of kids making a year of progress each year are also relevant measures.  Where we are going to use testing, we need to make sure that the tests are of a high quality and linked to curriculum; or like PISA, we need to clearly identify important competencies. Test results and other outcome data should not be used punitively; you cannot scare people into excellence.

Do you think the systems we have in place are sufficient to test the broad range of students? 

There is no measure that is perfect. Every measure is partial and every measure has error in it, so one needs multiple measures to form a better picture.  PISA has tried hard to get at critical thinking, and the tests in Ontario on elementary literacy and numeracy have a very substantial component of critical thinking.  Critical thinking isn’t some abstract skill.  You have to be thinking critically about something.  We also know that most teaching is focused on basic skills, not on higher order skills.  We’ve got years and years of evidence showing this.

“Where we are going to use testing, we need to make sure that the tests are of a high quality and linked to curriculum.” — Dr. Ben Levin

How do you see the importance of good teachers in the education process?

Good teachers are critical.  It is an absolutely vital factor, and the educational systems that are most successful are paying lots of attention to recruiting, retaining, and developing good teachers.  They are also providing a system that encourages and fosters good teachers.  However, the focus cannot be only on teachers as individuals.  Teaching is a social process, so good teachers can only ply their craft in well led and reasonably resourced schools.

How do you see the role of parents in this process?

Parents and families are very important.  Family background continues to be the single most powerful predictor of student outcomes.  That’s been the case as long as we’ve been measuring and it continues to be the case in every study.  We know a lot about how to engage parents more effectively in students’ education but we don’t always use that knowledge.

What can be done to better address the emotional well being of students in an environment where competition is more intense than ever before? 

Fortunately, I don’t think that in Canada we are living in that intense world of competition in schools.  My perception of this is that in Canada, the proportion of kids who are subject to intense pressure is quite small.  Frightening kids into working hard would be a mistake.  It is far better to engage people in things that they care about, generating real effort that does not come out of fear.  There is sometimes too much mindless homework. 

Competition to get into our best institutions has significantly increased the pressure on students. Can you share your experiences and comparisons with the Canadian college system?

Canada does not have the same kind of stratified higher education system as in the US.  The US higher education system has institutions that are superb and institutions that are not very good at all. Canadian institutions are not all identical in quality, but in this country it doesn’t really matter where you do your undergraduate degree. We don’t have institutions that take everybody they can get and other institutions that only take 1 in 20.  I think ours is a better system. You want every institution at least to be good; having some that are great and some that are terrible doesn’t work at all in education.  The whole goal is that everybody gets a good education.  There is an annual ranking of Canadian universities done by one of our magazines, but we simply don’t have the same kinds of inequalities in higher education.  

From a larger perspective, does your country’s definition of educational excellence take into account the quality of life of individuals and of society? 

We try to do that. For example, in Ontario for the last five years, we added thousands of teaching positions, almost all of them in areas like art, music, physical education, or languages.  So I don’t think there’s an inconsistency between saying we value a broad education and saying we have to ensure our kids can learn to read.  We have got to learn to do both things, and I would say Canadian schools do both those things reasonably well by world standards, as judged by our outcome data. (Editor’s note: Canada ranks among the top 10 countries in all categories of the PISA test.)

Any final thoughts on education systems?  

There is a conventional wisdom about education, which is that it’s all about economic competitiveness, that I think is wrong.  But there is a conventional critique of education, which is that’s it’s too much about economic competitiveness and hard skills, that I also think is wrong.  We don’t want an educational system that is factory-like in the way it treats young people.  That can’t be successful.  But equally, the idea that we can have an unstructured, everybody-do-their-own-thing education system, I also find unappealing because the result of that will be that most people will not get a good education.  It is possible to balance the concern for real skills with the concern for a broad education, and Canada does that about as well as anyone.

              Dr. Ben Levin and C. M. Rubin

(Photos courtesy of Dwight International School Canada and Dr. Ben Levin)

In The Global Search for Education, join C. M. Rubin and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Leon Botstein (US), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (US), Dr. Madhav Chavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (US), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Professor Ben Levin (Canada), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Professor R. Natarajan (India), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. David Shaffer (US), Dr. Kirsten Sivesind (Norway), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (US), Yves Theze (Lycee Francais US), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (US), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today. 

The Global Search for Education 

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C.M. Rubin has more than two decades of professional experience in development, marketing, and art direction for a diverse range of media businesses.  She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice In Wonderland.

Follow C. M. Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@cmrubinworld

Tagged: C. M. RubinCanadian and U.S. School SystemsCanadian College SystemDr. Ben LevinEducational ReformGlobal EducationHow to Change 5000 SchoolsPISAStandardized TestingOntario Institute for Studies in EducationTeacher QualityThe Global Search for Education

The Global Search for Education

Will Apple’s iPad 2 change the way we watch a book or appreciate nature? (Photo courtesy of Susan Leslie)

The Technology Connection

By C. M. Rubin with Harry Rubin and Michael Freeborn

If you asked a musician they might call it inspiring.

To a doctor it’s groundbreaking.

To a CEO it’s powerful.

To a teacher it’s the future.

If you asked a child, she might call it magic.”

…And if you asked the producers ofthe Apple iPad 2 new global advertising campaign, they’d probably tell you they’re just getting started…

So I asked Dr. Cornelia Hoogland (Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario), author of “The Land inside Coyote: Reconceptualizing human relationships to place through drama” and Woods Wolf Girl (her 6th book of poetry),and the founder and artistic director of Poetry London, this question:

Do you believe we need to change the way the arts are handled in academic curricula given the dramatic changes in technology in today’s world? If so, how do you believe this should be addressed?

Coyote has some thinking to do. In this story, Coyote goes down to the creek and then into the water. He sinks into the mud and sits there until he has an idea. For Coyote, thinking means immersing himselfin the earth, quietly sitting and listening until something occurs to him. He doesn’t separate knowledge into the disciplines; rather, he puts things into the holistic context of the earth. He’s not afraid to get dirty.

In another story, Coyote tries to learn another creature’s song and gets his teeth broken. But in the end, the desert that surrounds all the creatures becomes the landscape inside Coyote. It’s as if he swallowed the mountain and grassland he now wears close to his heart. Such integration contrasts with mainstream western approaches to education that isolate content in order to observe it.

Concern for place is important to many Canadian educators. On Canada’s west coast, the primary connection to place is captured in the life cycle of the salmon. Salmon’s major role in the food chain sustains people and large mammals; as well, their decomposing bodies, when carried into the woods by wolves, fertilize the evergreen forests. So when asked by a parent about her curriculum, Mi’kmaq teacher Susan Leslie’s reply that “We follow the fish,” implied an interconnected curriculum in which the arts – dancing, carving, painting, drawing, singing, drama, sewing, writing or storytelling – not only expresses students’ understandings but also provides the artistic methods of articulating (as well as of assessing) their understandings.

Canadians educators, who live in the same threatened and turbulent world as educators around the globe, are turning to native elders and teachers to help ground curriculum in aboriginal values which include the emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual and place-based components of learning. Curriculum begins with children of diverse backgrounds valued for the strengths and resources they bring into the classroom. Aboriginal teachings are shown to be as contemporary as they are traditional. For instance, cutting edge research into the human brain that shows such things as spending time in the natural world is hardwired (or not) at an early age, confirms similar wisdom passed on for generations in native communities.

Children connect with the arts in a Canadian classroom (Photo courtesy of Susan Leslie)

But can ancient understandings address contemporary arts curricula’s growing dependence upon technology? Dr. Janette Hughes, in speaking to the importance of updating the curricula to reflect shifts in society as the result of the proliferation of digital media, says that “Teachers are attending more closely to visual and multimodal literacies – students can express themselves through image, sound, and gesture to wider audiences because of the affordances of digital media. The scope of the artist/designer is broadened and more accessible, particularly for students who cannot paint or draw with technical expertise, but who can create and design with attention to detail, color, line, light, and depth.”

There’s no doubt that the interactive environments that Web 2.0 technologies provide (video games, websites, wikis) do and will change artistic practice and understanding. Participants/students need to think about complex systems, webs of interconnectedness, and the complicated ways in which impulsive or short-term decisions can end in disaster.

As our awareness of human interconnectedness increases – not only connectedness within global commercial and security systems, but also within the context of our shared, blue planet – the tired chorus for standardized testing and accountability is moribund. It’s time to join Coyote in the mud for a bit of clear thinking, to look to First Nations people for guidance in shaping the questions that science, industry and technology have failed to ask. Recently, while I hurried from building to building, an Elder asked me, “Where are your feet?” For the first in a long time I looked down to the concrete under my feet, to the place in which I found myself.

World Wisdom

  1. Deepening human connections to the natural world leads to significant educational gain.

  2. These connections also expand students’ grounding for the complex web of relationships between technology and the arts.

  3. Areas of knowledge are highly interconnected and should be viewed holistically and not just as separate disciplines.

  4. As our awareness of human interconnectedness increases, the tired chorus for standardized testing and accountability is moribund.

         Dr. Cornelia Hoogland and C. M. Rubin

In The Global Search for Education, join C. M. Rubin and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Leon Botstein (US), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (US), Dr. Madhav Chavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (US), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Professor Ben Levin (Canada), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Professor R. Natarajan (India), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. David Shaffer (US), Dr. Kirsten Sivesind (Norway), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (US), Yves Theze (Lycee Francais US), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (US), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today.

The Global Search for Education Community Page

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C.M. Rubin has more than two decades of professional experience in development, marketing, and art direction for a diverse range of media businesses.  She is also the author of three bestselling books, including  The Real Alice In Wonderland.

Follow C. M. Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@cmrubinworld

Tagged: The Global Search for EducationC. M. RubinAboriginal KnowledgeApple iPad 2Art and TechnologyCanadian EducatorsCanadian SchoolsCornelia HooglandEducational ReformLand Inside CoyoteMusic and TechnologyStandardized Testing

The Global Search for Education

                               Guangzhou, China education mega center

The Future of Jobs?

By C.M. Rubin with Harry Rubin and Michael Freeborn

Recession. Economic Crisis. Increasing World Competition. For Finland (The Global Search for Education:  More Focus on Finland), the successful way forward in this situation was through education reform.

The impact of education on individual and national prosperity has long been debated by politicians, policy advisors, business consultants and academics. However, Professor Hugh Lauder explains, “the links between education and a modern economy are much more complex than policy makers would have us believe. Education will no longer be the route to good jobs unless we fundamentally rethink the purpose of education. Rounded students are better suited to the modern economy. If we focused on creativity versus rote learning and exam passing we just might surprise ourselves”.

In an explosive new book, The Global Auction, Lauder and his co-authors, Phillip Brown and David Ashton, show how competition for good middle class jobs just got worse. Increasing worldwide competition leading to cut-priced brain power and a fundamental power shift in favor of corporate bosses and emerging economies are more than ever a threat to the prosperity of middle class Americans. To talk about this issue among other matters in our Global Search For Education series, I had the honor to chat with Hugh Lauder, Professor of Education and Political Economy, University of Bath, United Kingdom, and Head of Policy and Management Research Group.

Tell me about the background to your book, The Global Auction.

We had been working on national systems of skill formation for around 14 years.  We were travelling the world interviewing policy makers in this area, and then around the turn of the century, we realized the game wasn’t just about national skill systems but also about globalization and what multi-national companies were doing in relation to skills strategies. We were given a grant to interview multi-national executives about their core strategies. These companies were based in Korea, China, Singapore, Germany, India, the UK, and the United States.  It very quickly became apparent that many of the assumptions we had been making were being turned over by what was going on in the global economy. We began to understand that executives in these multi-nationals (with the rise of higher education systems in China and India for example) were moving many of the high skill jobs that they had in the west to the east because they could often get the skilled graduates in those countries for a tenth of the price. Many of the assumptions that have been made in the West about globalization have been made on the belief that the ‘head’ work would be done in the West because of our higher education and innovation systems, and that much of the manufacturing work would be done in the East. That was true up to around 2005, but it then changed dramatically. On top of this, multi-national companies were producing what we call digital Taylorism: taking the knowledge  in people’s heads and codifying it into computer algorithms so that it becomes working knowledge for companies as a whole. That reduces the cost of employing high skilled workers and it very often increases the speed. For example, the NY Times reported recently that in the area of law, many of the jobs that were being done by lawyers at the bottom end of the scale, such as interns, can now be done by computer. That’s an example of digital Taylorism. The political consequence of this, we think, is that there will be many graduates whose aspirations and expectations for good work will be confounded.  So this raises fundamental questions about the role of education and the role of the economy in Western countries, given that China and India and other emerging economies are not only excelling in manufacturing and services, but are excelling increasingly in the areas of innovation and development.

                               The authors of The Global Auction at Oxford

How does this apply to the UK educational system?

There is a tremendous amount of pressure right now for students to excel in particular tests, and what we are concerned with is the possibility that repeated testing gives them a trained incapacity to think. They don’t have the creative skill required or the interpersonal skills because they are simply learning to take a test. So we have a fundamental concern with the pressure that’s being applied to students through the intensification of the requirement for credentials. Testing and exams have taken too much of a high profile because that takes away from teachers and from students that essential interaction between them that can lead to firing of  curiosity, to the development of intrinsic interest, and to a much more creative way of approaching the world.

How do you think we should be assessing students?

It’s a difficult problem. My personal view is that exams are basically selection mechanisms, a way of sorting students, and assessment should be actually about the various ways in which students can be seen to solve problems. This can be through assignments, internships, or practical problems where you can see students working through particular issues. Indeed, many of the multi national companies said that they preferred to have students come in for internships because they could get a much better understanding of those students.

What do you think about the German educational system that directs the majority of young Germans to apprenticeships supplemented by part time schooling?

Unlike many countries in the West, only about 20% of Germans go into higher education. The remainder of the young people have the right to go into an apprenticeship, which is a dual system partly of academic education and partly of applied learning on the job. This system is efficient because it does not over produce graduates, unlike countries such as Britain and America. The system is good because the apprenticeship includes a strong element of general education to do with citizenship.

What do we do to ensure the emotional health of our students in face of increasing pressure?

There are many more students going for fewer well paid and interesting jobs. I think it is difficult to reduce the competition for those jobs. I believe we need to think about the number of tests kids are taking. Are there other ways of assessing academic work, instead of pinning everything on these tests? That’s part of the answer. If you’re talking about your Tiger Mums in New York, you can see why they are doing it, and asking them to slow down is going to be very difficult indeed.

How do you see the role of teachers in improving your education system?

Poor test results have been seen as an indication that we need to improve the quality of teaching in the UK. By and large, teachers understand that they have to go through the motions on these tests, but the ideology of most teachers is much more about trying to create interest and curiosity in children rather than get them through these tests. We are about to change teacher training in this country.  We are moving back to an apprenticeship model which looks more like something we had in Victorian times, where instead of universities being the training places for teachers, it’s actually being moved to schools themselves. I think that really good university training plus in-school training is really important to keep teachers in the game and interested.  All the evidence still suggests that the key relationship is still between the teacher and the student, and the way in which a teacher can inspire students. Teachers have to be valued. They have to have a special status. I think that is really important.

Solutions from the last chapter of The Global Auction that you would like to share?

We don’t see education as just being about servicing the economy. Education has to be much wider than that. It has to be about citizenship. It has to be about inspiring kids about their curiosity and their academic interest and their intrinsic motivation.

In The Global Search for Education, join C.M. Rubin and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Leon Botstein (US), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (US), Dr. Madhav Chavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (US), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Professor Ben Levin (Canada), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Professor R. Natarajan (India), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. David Shaffer (US), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (US), Yves Theze (Lycee Francais US), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (US), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today.

The Global Search for Education Community Page

       Professor Hugh Lauder and C. M. Rubin

C.M. Rubin has more than two decades of professional experience in development, marketing, and art direction for a diverse range of media businesses. She is also the author of three bestselling books, including

The Real Alice In Wonderland.

Follow C. M. Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@cmrubinworld

Tagged: Corporate Skill StrategiesDavid AshtonEducational ReformGerman and English Apprenticeship SystemsGlobal EducationHigher Education Mega CentresHugh LauderIndustrial Policy and EmploymentLinks Between Education and the EconomyLow Cost Skill Labor in India and ChinaMulti-National Company Hiring PracticesNational Skill FormationPhillip BrownPolicy and Management Research GroupStandardised TestsTaylorismsThe Future of JobsC.C. M. RubinThe Global AuctionThe Global SearThe Global Search for EducationTiger Moms

The Global Search for Education

Finnish teachers talk with Harvard professor Tony Wagner in The Finland Phenomenon

More Focus on Finland

By C. M. Rubin with Harry Rubin and Michael Freeborn

“The Finns had a crisis,” life-long educator, best-selling author, and Harvard professor Tony Wagner explains as we discuss his new film, The Finland Phenomenon, made with acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Bob Compton. “Their economy was failing. Their education system was poor. They knew that to grow their economy, they had to transform their educational system.” Starting with the principle that cooperation is a key pillar of success, the Finns revised their educational framework.

“I saw teachers in Finland that were better than 90% of the teachers I see in America,” says Wagner. There were many things that led to Finland topping the international education league tables (ten years and counting). A key driver: a tremendous investment in teaching made it the most sought-after profession in Finland.

Compulsory schooling now begins at seven. School is a place where students discover who they are and what they can contribute. National testing and school inspections are banished (teachers are trusted to assess their students). Classroom size has been reduced (limited to 20 students). Students are permitted to transfer to an academic or vocational school at the age of 16, and no university fees are charged for Finnish or European Union students.

This educational reformation has made them world leaders. Not surprisingly, global policy makers are paying more attention. Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of CIMO in Helsinki, Finland (the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation) now advises policy-makers in over 40 countries on matters relating to education and its reform. Four months before the release of his highly anticipated new book, “Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn about educational change in Finland,” Pasi Sahlberg spoke with me about the characteristics of successful educational systems, and about what is missing from many systems around the world.

What kind of education system will permit a country to have the people skills needed to compete globally?

The education system must be equitable, accessible, and flexible. Global competitiveness requires that all people develop competencies for life and work, not just some people. This means that a successful education system should help young people to discover their talents and build their lives based on them. Reading, mathematical, and scientific literacy will remain important, but their role as ‘core subjects’ in competitive education systems will be challenged by creativity, networking skills, and imagination.

An equitable education system makes sure that all students will perform well. It will provide early support to those who need more help in their learning than others. It will also emphasize caring and well-being in school (through healthy nutrition, medical, dental and psychological health), rights of students in school, and shared responsibilities in education and upbringing of children with parents.

Accessibility means that the education system provides good schooling for all, regardless of where people live or what they do. The education system that can offer unified and comprehensive basic education, rather than diversified provision of schooling (through private or non-public schools), will have better opportunities to respond to the changing needs of the competitive and complex world.

Flexibility is about providing adequate individual personalization in school, and freedom for schools to craft their curricula based on their capacities and local needs.

I know that Finland has banished national testing. How do you see the problems with standardized testing? 

The main problem with standardized testing today is the quality of these tests. As learning in the globalized world is becoming increasingly complex and diverse, to test what pupils have learned through standardized tests is becoming more complicated. The increasing amount of what students learn cognitively today, let alone what they will learn tomorrow, is due to out-of-school influences, not the teacher or school. Standardized tests by definition are designed based on curriculum and textbooks, not the real world. Therefore, most standardized tests promote narrowing pedagogies, focus on core subjects and knowledge, and prevent teachers from teaching their curricula flexibly. Another problem with standardized tests is that as soon as you have invested in them, you want to also use them for all sorts of purposes for which they were not meant to be used, like determining the quality of schools and comparing them to each other, or measuring the effectiveness of teachers.

What elements are missing from the preponderance of the current systems?

Education systems in general pay too little attention to helping everybody find their own talent in school. It is evident everywhere that most people, after they have completed compulsory education at the age of 16 or 17, think that they are not good at anything. There is a small minority of those young people who say that they know what their talents are and that this is because of what they did in school. Another missing emphasis in current education systems all around the world is focus on helping young people to develop social skills and competencies that they need in their lives (that are dominated by communication through gadgets). This could also be called a lack of focus on developing social intelligences in school.

What can be done to better address the emotional well being and intellectual potential of the individual, which appear to be suffering under current systems?

Emotional well-being can be addressed by reducing the academic dominance in schools and by increasing the social and creative aspects in what students do. It is a common misconception that competitive economies in a globalized world would require that children and students be prepared for them by environments that are based on more competition. It is the opposite. To prepare young people for the competitive world requires more cooperation in classrooms and between schools. All national programs, like Race to the Top, will jeopardize school, teacher, and student efforts to cooperate as they reward winners in the race and punish losers in public tests.

From a larger perspective, does your country’s definition of educational excellence take into account the quality of life of individuals and of a society?

Educational excellence in Finland is a broad concept that spans far beyond academic achievement measured in standardized tests. Indeed, quality of life, overall well-being, and happiness are important criteria when teachers and schools decide whether their individuals or organizations have performed well or not. Artistic and cultural achievements are seen in most of our schools as the main indications of being an educated individual.

World Wisdom from Finland

Global competitiveness requires that all students develop competencies for life and work, not just some students. Therefore, a country’s educational system must be equitable, accessible, and flexible. Cooperation, not competition, is a principal pillar of educational system success. Also essential is a tremendous investment in teaching quality. But beware of standardized testing, as it will undermine the achievement of these objectives.

In The Global Search for Education, join C.M. Rubin and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Leon Botstein (US), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (US), Dr. Madhav Chavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (US), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Professor Ben Levin (Canada), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. David Shaffer (US), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (US), Yves Theze (Lycee Francais US), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (US), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today.

                                     Finnish class in session

                         Professor Pasi Sahlberg and C. M. Rubin

C.M. Rubin has more than two decades of professional experience in development, marketing, and art direction for a diverse range of media businesses.  She is also the author of three bestselling books, including  The Real Alice In Wonderland.

Follow C. M. Rubin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@cmrubinworld

Tagged: Bob Compton,C. M. Rubin,Educational ReformFinland SchoolsFinnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn about Educational Change in FinlandGlobal EducationHarvard Professor Tony WagnerHowardHoward GardnerPISA RankingsPasi SahlbergRTTTRace to the TopStandardized TestingThe Global search for EducationWorld WisdomThe Finland Phenomenon