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The US spends more on education than other countries. Why is it falling behind?

The Guardian – Dominic Rushe

“America’s schools are in trouble – but it’s not all about money. In 2014, the US spent an average of $16,268 a year to educate a pupil from primary through tertiary education, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) annual report of education indicators, well above the global average of $10,759.” (more)

Finnish method helps Norwegian first-graders who struggle with maths

Science Nordic – Nancy Bazilchuk

“Mathematics is a subject that is additive: each new learned skill prepares students for the next. But if you are stuck at the first step in the process, you can’t go any further. Somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent of all children and young adults have some kind of difficulty with mathematics. At its extreme, this problem is called dyscalculia. “The sooner we can help students who get lost in the learning process, the sooner we can get them on track again. It’s always our goal to identify students who are struggling as early as possible,” says Anita Lopez-Pedersen, a PhD candidate at the University of Oslo’s Department of Special Education.” (more)

The big lesson from the world’s best school system? Trust your teachers

The Guardian – John Hart

“Finnish education is rarely out of the news, whether it’s outstanding Pisa results, those same results slipping, the dropping of traditional subjects, not dropping subjects, or what makes Finnish teachers special. I worked in England for two years as a teacher before moving to Finland eight years ago. My colleagues in the UK were supportive and the headteacher gave me subject leadership in my second year. I didn’t want to leave but the pull of home for my Finnish wife was too strong, so we upped sticks.”(more)

How Kids Learn Better By Taking Frequent Breaks Throughout The Day

KQED News Mind/Shift – Timothy D. Walker

“Although I favor the Finnish model, I realize that unleashing fifth graders on the playground every hour would be a huge shift for most schools. According to Pellegrini, breaks don’t have to be held outdoors to be beneficial. In one of his experiments at a public elementary school, the children had their recess times inside the school, and the results matched those of other experiments where they took their breaks outside: after their breaks, the students were more focused in class (Pellegrini, 2005).”(more)

In Finland, Kids Learn Computer Science Without Computers

The Atlantic – Emily DeRuy

“The Finns are pretty bemused by Americans’ preoccupation with whether to put iPads in every classroom. If a tablet would enhance learning, great. If it wouldn’t, skip it. Move on. The whole thing is a little tilting-at-windmills, anyway. That was the gist of the conversation one recent morning at the Finnish Embassy in Washington, D.C., where diplomats and experts gathered to celebrate the country’s education accomplishments as Finland turns 100. And Americans could stand to take notes. (Yes, from Finland—again.) Coding and programming are now part of the curriculum in the Scandinavian country, and they’re subjects kids tackle from a young age. But unlike in some parts of the United States where learning to code is an isolated skill, Finnish children are taught to think of coding and programming more as tools to be explored and utilized across multiple subjects.”(more)

The Cult of Finland: What American Schools CAN’T Learn From International Comparisons

The 74 Million – Matt Barnum

“Tuesday’s release of the PISA results — an international test of high schoolers — will almost undoubtedly prompt endless discussion of a mythical educational utopia, where kindergartners are “joyful and illiterate,” where there are no big, bad charter schools or high-stakes testing, where schools are virtually all equal — and where those same test scores are through the roof. It is called Finland, and many a journalist, policymaker, union leader and education researcher yearns to dwell in this K-12 Lake Wobegon whose virtues are lauded regularly on the pages of high-profile publications and whose methods are praised assiduously during panel discussions at serious conferences. Finland’s education system is sometimes described as a “miracle.”(more)