For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.
Pasi Silander, the city’s development manager, explained: “What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life.
“Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed.
“We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society.”
Subject-specific lessons – an hour of history in the morning, an hour of geography in the afternoon – are already being phased out for 16-year-olds in the city’s upper schools. They are being replaced by what the Finns call “phenomenon” teaching – or teaching by topic. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.
More academic pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union - which would merge elements of economics, history (of the countries involved), languages and geography.
What are the Biggest Mistakes Teachers Make When Integrating Technology into the Classroom?
The word “mistake” is a harsh word. It implies flaws, pointing fingers, errors in judgement, something wrong and possibly even a dead end. I would rather think or connect the word “mistake” to first steps, stepping stones, experimentation and exploration. With that being said, those “first steps” or that exploration cannot become a routine cemented in stone how technology is being used in the classroom. Stepping stones are meant to lead to something else.
For the sake of the prompt given, here are my top 5 “Mistakes” (in no particular order) which I see, read and hear about as I travel the world to learn and work with schools, teachers and students:
- Technology being used to substitute an analog activity
- Technology use being seen as an add-on to allow students to use devices, the Internet, a program or an app as a reward, for entertainment, as a time filler for students who finish early
- Technology use as a separate subject area
- Technology as a $1000 pencil initiative
- Technology seen as the solution to motivate and engage students
The value of computer programming has been rising exponentially for decades. To the point where now coding has gained traction in mainstream media. TV shows like CBS’s The Big Bang Theory or HBO’s Silicon Valley are good indicators of computer science careers are taking center stage. The domino effect created by the demand for amazing technology is likewise leading to a demand for skilled workers to engineer and program. Whether training comes through a high school certificate program, or a degree in computer science, the need for project-ready coders is only increasing. The bottom-line: All schools at all levels are kicking coding into overdrive.
One school in Pennsylvania is using open-source tools wherever possible to keep students close to the code behind the machines they use. This stance is opposite to the very restrictive policies of many schools, but could allow students more freedom to explore what makes devices work.
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