Why make the case for change in a system with an outstanding track record of education outcomes? Because there are potential pitfalls and challenges ahead:
- A skills shortage
- Difficulty integrating 21st century skills into curriculum
- Too strong a content orientation
- Inadequate and ineffective use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in Education
- A growth of differing and conflicting learning outcomes
- Low satisfaction levels in schools
And there are more on the list. Now, before you begin typing your response that I have unfairly vilified our outstanding education system in British Columbia, I am not describing British Columbia, but rather Finland. And these are not my thoughts, but those of Timo Lankinen, Director General at the Finnish National Board of Education, as recently expressed in his presentation, Making a case for change in a successful system (Finnish basic education). The list is from a more complete slide in his presentation:
Finland has been setting the world benchmark, so many of us are chasing. However, while they are widely seen as the strongest in the world, they have embarked on a change agenda.
These are the questions being asked (from Lankinen’s presentation):
- Are we picking up on the warning signals about the growing differences between schools and learning outcomes, and provision of education?
- Do we highlight higher-order skills, citizen skills needed for future lives in a systematic way?
- Do we enable teachers and students to flourish? Do we notice and care about non-conforming students?
- And what about . . .
- More individual freedom to choose between subjects
- Multidisciplinary subject groups
- Increase of minimum instruction time
- A more diversified language program
- Increase of the Arts and PE
- Highlight 21st century skills – citizen skills
- Educational use of ICT