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Letters to the Editor

| September 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

Educational reform and the Finland factor

Over recent years, the independent education sector has been actively moving towards a greater focus on transformation and diversity. It is a movement towards a true and representative inclusion that mirrors our wonderfully unique South African context. Without effective transformation and diversity within our schools, we are simply fooling ourselves if we purport to be preparing our pupils for the reality of their post-matric world.

In my mind, however, a question mark hangs over this endeavour: transformation and diversity of what, exactly? I say this because I also believe that we are aware that, in many aspects, our education system is becoming less and less effective as we stumble and grasp in our attempts to keep up with the advances of the world our pupils must navigate. If a pot has a crack in it, it is useless, regardless of the intentions and value systems of the people who made it. If we consider it our responsibility to teach our children social education, are we not equally responsible for doing everything within our power to ensure that they receive a robust, relevant and practical education, and not simply hand them a cracked pot full of the right intentions?

This is where looking beyond our own context assists us in highlighting the deficiencies that undermine our educational intentions, yet also providing a wealth of ideas that could hold value for us. This being the case, my educational eye is currently fixed on Finland – the country that is seemingly revolutionising educational practice and achieving sustainable, successful results.

A quick scratch of the surface reveals that with regard to underlying educational values, we are not dissimilar to Finland in our inclusion of the principles of lifelong learning, diversity and recognition of language minorities, for example. We diverge radically, however, in three major areas: curriculum implementation, assessment and teaching training. I believe it would be arrogant indeed to ignore Finland’s lessons to us in these areas.

Time, however, is the lesson that underpins it all. Despite our perception of Finland’s nimble reform, in reality it took over four decades – illustrating that sustainable, worthy change takes time and that in the world of educational reform, we have a long road ahead of us.

Jacqueline Aitchison
Director: Education Incorporated Boutique School

From the editor: Jacqueline Aitchison will write an extended article based on these ideas for the summer 2018 edition of Independent Education.

Category: Spring 2018

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