Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finland's Visual Arts Curriculum

Came across Finland's Visual Arts Curriculum on Ian Chia's Learning to Nurture Ideas blog. The post expressed how Finland privileges the arts in schools.

"Finland has a long term approach to arts in education. Rather than valuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) over the arts like many Western countries, Finland considers the arts to be vital and weaves it through their entire education system."

The Finnish education system has received praise in large part because of student scores on the PISA exams. Contrasts have been made between the American system and the one supported by Finland. As we struggle in this country to rethink education and strive to reach consensus on what needs to be valued in our classrooms, I would recommend examining the Finnish Arts curriculum. It was a reminder of experiences I think we all hope to foster in our schools.

I shared some excerpts from the Arts curriculum below. What do you think about Finland's emphasis on the Arts? Unfortunately, in times of financial despair, it seems as if the arts if compromised. For someone who grew up in an arts rich household and attended schools that valued a renaissance approach to learning, it would be impossible to think of an educational experience that is devoid of the arts. As always your thoughts are appreciated.

Teaching according to the in-depth syllabus should give pupils an opportunity to work in the long run according to their talents and interests and create the conditions for a lifelong interest in visual representation and for further studies

Teaching should be based on an idea of a human being, where the individual has ethical and moral ability to choose and actively shape their lives and recognize the importance of beauty in it. Education shall support students’ spiritual growth and personal integrity and help him to develop into a thinking person with discernment.

The goal of education is that student by expressing themselves with art, learn to evaluate and assess himself and his environment and to build and develop their worldview based on both personal experience and heritage. Teaching should help students to become aware on what for him is important in life and to express this by visual means.
Education must develop students’ capacity for creative problem solving. Pupils should learn to express themselves and to master materials and technology. He will receive guidance in assessing and appreciating the quality of the visual environment.

The need for artistic expression is to be based on the student’s own motivation and the student must have an active role in studying and learning
Important approaches are creative problem solving, student’s own artistic expression and construction

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Culture of Learning

I wanted to share an excerpt from Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown's, A New Culture of Learning. I read through this section of the text several times before setting my iPad down to think about ways to foster schools that honor recommendations offered by Thomas and Brown.

When we think about what a new educational environment might look like in the twenty-first century, we can imagine a number of things. Imagine an environment that is constantly changing. Imagine an environment where the participants are building, creating, and participating in a massive network of dozens of databases, hundreds of wikis and websites, and thousands of message forums, literally creating a large-scale knowledge economy. Imagine an environment where participants are constantly measuring and evaluating their own performances, even if that requires them to build new tools to do it. Imagine an environment where evaluation is based on after-action reviews not to determine rewards but to continually enhance performance.- New Culture of Learning

What particularly resonated was the concept of constant change. Academic institutions are shaped by the unique perspectives of students, teachers, members of the community and through connections made with individuals scattered throughout the world. Each year the dynamic shifts as new connections are made, class make-ups are altered and opinions evolve. Participants are driven by inquiry and possibility and learning is the result of open conversations between committed stakeholders.

Commentary about the meaning of evaluation triggered critical reflection as well. Unfortunately, our assessment system is built on reward in the form of a grade (for students) or measurement (for teachers). What is lost is the concept of nurturing growth. How many of us are finished products? Skills can always be developed, knowledge deepened and talents honed. Evaluations should not be used to determine a final statement, but instead foster reflection and stimulate further inquiry and action.

We can all imagine a different environment. I guess the real question is how do we get there?

Friday, April 15, 2011

MHS Graduate Profile

Wordle addition of the MHS Graduate Profile. Posted as a follow-up to The Great American Teach In podcast. One can look at the Graduate Profile as a manifesto of what a group of passionate educators believe is important.

    Wordle: MHS Graduate Profile

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Great American Teach In

Thoughts about The Great American Teach In scheduled for May 10th. What are your thoughts about the event and are you going to participate?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Think Different

I came across this video over the weekend. It was embedded into a post by Wes Fryer on his blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity. What does it mean to think different as the video suggests? Moreover, as an educator, how can we examine school through a different lens and rethink experiences crafted for students?

In your opinion, what does it mean to "Think Different" about school? Curious to hear what you have to say.