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Better ideas from Finland

Written By: - Date published: 2:43 pm, March 16th, 2012 - 54 comments
Categories: david shearer, education, john key - Tags:

David Shearer used Finland as an example of successful small country economic development. The main focus in a very good speech yesterday was on education. Finland has a lot  to offer on education as well – few tests and excellent teachers. This article by Dianne Ravitch in the New York Review of Books is well worth a read.

Ravitch is a critic of the so-called education reformers, who she describes thus:

The new breed of school reformers consists mainly of Wall Street hedge fund managers, foundation officials, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and policymakers, but few experienced educators. The reformers’ detachment from the realities of schooling and their indifference to research allow them to ignore the important influence of families and poverty. The schools can achieve miracles, the reformers assert, by relying on competition, deregulation, and management by data—strategies similar to the ones that helped produce the economic crash of 2008.

We’ve got our very own Wall Street refugee in John Key, with a fanatical adherence to management by data aka “national standards”. Also teachers are the enemy; Ravitch says:

The “no excuses” reformers maintain that all children can attain academic proficiency without regard to poverty, disability, or other conditions, and that someone must be held accountable if they do not. That someone is invariably their teachers.

Nothing is said about holding accountable the district leadership or the elected officials who determine such crucial issues as funding, class size, and resource allocation. The reformers say that our economy is in jeopardy, not because of growing poverty or income inequality or the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, but because of bad teachers. These bad teachers must be found out and thrown out. Any laws, regulations, or contracts that protect these pedagogical malefactors must be eliminated so that they can be quickly removed without regard to experience, seniority, or due process.

Ravitch gives these three reasons why Finland’s education programme  is so successful.

First, Finland has one of the highest-performing school systems in the world, as measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses reading, mathematical literacy, and scientific literacy of fifteen-year-old students in all thirty-four nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including the United States. Unlike our domestic tests, there are no consequences attached to the tests administered by the PISA. No individual or school learns its score. No one is rewarded or punished because of these tests. No one can prepare for them, nor is there any incentive to cheat.

Second, from an American perspective, Finland is an alternative universe. It rejects all of the “reforms” currently popular in the United States, such as testing, charter schools, vouchers, merit pay, competition, and evaluating teachers in relation to the test scores of their students.

Third, among the OECD nations, Finnish schools have the least variation in quality, meaning that they come closest to achieving equality of educational opportunity—an American ideal.

Ravitch quotes a book by Finnish author Pasi Sahlberg, who attributes the improvement of Finnish schools to bold decisions made in the 1960s and 1970s. Sahlberg says Finland’s story is important “because it gives hope to those who are losing their faith in public education.” Ravitch writes:

Sahlberg speaks directly to the sense of crisis about educational achievement in the United States and many other nations. US policymakers have turned to market-based solutions such as “tougher competition, more data, abolishing teacher unions, opening more charter schools, or employing corporate-world management models.” By contrast, Finland has spent the past forty years developing a different education system, one that is focused on

improving the teaching force, limiting student testing to a necessary minimum, placing responsibility and trust before accountability, and handing over school- and district-level leadership to education professionals.

To an American observer, the most remarkable fact about Finnish education is that students do not take any standardized tests until the end of high school. They do take tests, but the tests are drawn up by their own teachers, not by a multinational testing corporation. The Finnish nine-year comprehensive school is a “standardized testing-free zone,” where children are encouraged “to know, to create, and to sustain natural curiosity.”

Ravitch describes teacher education in Finland. It’s fantastic;  Finnish teachers are valued because their selection and training are rigorous and comprehensive. Read it and weep. I thought the focus in Shearer’s speech on education was excellent, apart from the jarring note about bad teachers.

We need to value teachers. We need every teacher in our classroom to be a good one. The vast majority are. But the truth is some are not. We will work with teachers to develop their professional skills, but ultimately we can’t afford to have bad teachers in our classrooms. As a parent, I want to put badly run schools on notice.

That’s not a fresh approach.

Ravitch’s final paragraphs are also worth quoting in full:

Sahlberg recognizes that Finland stands outside what he refers to as the “Global Education Reform Movement,” to which he appends the apt acronym “GERM.” GERM, he notes, is a virus that has infected not only the United States, but the United Kingdom, Australia, and many other nations. President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law and President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program are examples of the global education reform movement. Both promote standardized testing as the most reliable measure of success for students, teachers, and schools; privatization in the form of schools being transferred to private management; standardization of curriculum; and test-based accountability such as merit pay for high scores, closing schools with low scores, and firing educators for low scores.

In contrast, the central aim of Finnish education is the development of each child as a thinking, active, creative person, not the attainment of higher test scores, and the primary strategy of Finnish education is cooperation, not competition.

I’ll send a copy of the full article to David Shearer. It’s way over time we got rid of the GERMs; we’re forty years behind already.

54 comments on “Better ideas from Finland”

  1. Kotahi Tane Huna 1

    Yes yes yes yes yes!

    Shearer may have been duped by right-wing bullshit, and must take his lumps, but he has time to get his act together on this.

  2. Craig Glen Eden 2

    “Very good speech” what a joke Mike Smith. Shearers speech was idealogical poor and his attack on teachers was a disgrace. What this speech showed was just how out of touch he is with Labour’s rank and file and how little he knows about education. But then what else should we expect from a guy who has been a MP for 10 minutes and who thinks he can lead a Political Party like Labour. Tick tock tick tock I bet the numbers are being done on Shearer as I type.
    .

    • Hami Shearlie 2.1

      Agreed C.G.E – My huge doubts about Shearer were there from the beginning and they’re growing! How can he make people believe what he says when he doesn’t come across as believing what he says himself? Has he any strong convictions about anything, or hasn’t Pagani told him what they are yet?

      Shearer wants to be a paler version of Key to gain the centre votes, but shouldn’t Labour be trying to get the votes of the one million people who didn’t vote? Easier task I would have thought!

    • Blue 2.2

      The worry is that the numbers are not being done on Shearer as we speak.

      The Parliamentary wing of the Labour Party has completely lost it. They did not understand why installing Shearer as leader was the wrong move, and the worry is that they will never understand it.

  3. What a great post. I’ve always felt that if teaching was held in higher prestige in this country then more of the people who would make great teachers would go into the profession. I personally am intending to go into High School teaching once I finish all my studies because it’s one of the most important jobs anyone can do. I had excellent teachers all throughout my school career, and would love to contribute back to society and hopefully inspire the next generation the way my teachers inspired me.

    • Jackal 3.1

      More people don’t go into teaching because the wages are low, it’s as simple as that.

      • shreddakj 3.1.1

        Meanwhile, in their usual delusional state, right wingers claim teachers get paid too much.

        • Rusty Shackleford 3.1.1.1

          Teaching isn’t that hard. It’s hard to be a good teacher, but adequate teachers are a dime a dozen. Sure, pay teachers well if they are stars and get consistent results (there are millionaire teachers here in Korea) but arbitrarily setting high pay for teachers won’t solve many problems.

          • Craig Glen Eden 3.1.1.1.1

            ” pay teachers if they are stars and get consistent results”

            The problem with this is how can this possibly be measured when so much of a child’s learning is not under the control of the teacher or what occurs in the class room environmental influences are huge when it comes to learning.

            Should we pay a teacher more if they are teaching children who’s second language is English more than the teacher who is teaching English speaking Kiwi kids. What about teachers who are having to deal with kids who are special needs should they be paid more than a teacher who has no special needs kids.

            Then of coarse we get to the issue of best practice, as teachers are professionals they learn and develop through collegial support. Why would teachers support each others when they might be competing for a wage increase or bonus?

            But here is an idea Rusty how about we apply the same measure to the countries MPs first. Let’s give the good ones a wage say $45,000 and lets put the bad ones on the dole so they can enjoy that amazing lifestyle that so many people are choosing under this under performing National Government.

            • Rusty Shackleford 3.1.1.1.1.1

              “how can this possibly be measured when so much of a child’s learning is not under the control of the teacher”
              Could not agree more. However, the “star” teachers I’m thinking of are capable of teaching pretty much any group of people. They do exist. There are people in Korea who make a 500K a year because they get results. ie. they guarantee you will get an A in the TOEIC test or your money back. The problem is they own private academies that charge $1000 a term and sell supplementary books and do internet teaching. These people actually do get results and have a proven track record.

              It isn’t really analogous to the NZ experience EXCEPT in that we should be finding innovative ways to educate kids, rather than bickering over the finer points of a sinking system. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as it were.

              “Should we pay a teacher more if they are teaching children who’s second language is English ”
              YES, YES, YES, YES, YES!
              But, I could be biased ; )

              But I see your finer point. How do we know how much to pay a teacher? The answer is. No one knows.

              “how about we apply the same measure to the countries MPs first.”
              You’ve got my support : )

              • shreddakj

                “There are people in Korea who make a 500K a year because they get results.”

                Source?

              • happynz

                There are people in Korea who make a 500K a year because they get results. ie. they guarantee you will get an A in the TOEIC test or your money back.

                This sounds like a bullshit TEFLer rumour of riches. I reckon your 500K claim is horseshit. I find it hard to believe someone making that sort of dosh teaching exam prep for TOEIC.

              • Draco T Bastard

                But I see your finer point. How do we know how much to pay a teacher? The answer is. No one knows.

                Careful there, you’re starting to sound Marxian 😈

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  http://english.ntdtv.com/ntdtv_en/ns_life/2009-07-15/476586938003.html

                  I’m not talking about TEFLers. We are the bottom of the pile in Korean society. They simply wouldn’t let a person one step above a 3D worker earn that sort of cash. The only way to make sizeable cash is to jape about like this doofus. http://english.seoul.go.kr/gtk/news/reports_view.php?idx=1146
                  Or set up your own academy with an eye to selling it on when it has a ton of students, which entails a ton of work and a ton of risk and likely a Korean business partner who will cut and run with your capital at a moments notice.

                  Perhaps I should have said “Koreans in Korea” rather than “people in Korea”.

                  I’ve done the numbers a few times, and it works out that I would have to make 75K a year in NZ to have in the hand at the end of the month that I have here. That isn’t including any over time or private work. So, the tales of “riches”, relatively speaking, aren’t over blown. Especially considering the actual amount of work I put in and the number of holidays I get.

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  “Careful there, you’re starting to sound Marxian ”

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_calculation_problem

              • Craig Glen Eden

                NZ Teachers in consultation with the Unions and the Ministry have actually developed a world class system based on many of the current progressive learning methods available in the world. But the average Kiwi and the National/Actoids are totally ignorant of this fact. They go on about our tale but the truth is our tale is made up of Kids who’s results do not feature in other Nations figures.

                If we want good teachers its time we started praising them/the profession for the good/world class work that they do. Maybe just maybe Teaching would be a profession that more people would be prepared to invest their lives in.

                By the way any monkey can teach bright kids to get A’s in a test, NZ teachers and the NZ curriculum are trying to develop second level thinking and life long learners, which takes a lot more work.

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  “By the way any monkey can teach bright kids to get A’s in a test”
                  Well… I agree to a point but it is possible for a teacher to be destructive to a child’s education.

                  I believe the culture of the institution (which the teachers heavily influence) has as much bearing on outcomes as the teachers themselves. There are way more factors than simply chucking a good teacher in front of the class, not everyone can be Sydney Portier.

                • RedLogix

                  Precisely.

                  Teachers like everyone else, probably fall on a normal distribution curve. There are a few truly gifted ones, a few truly awful ones… and the rest do quite ok thanks very much somewhere in the middle. There is no reason to think otherwise.

                  Now you could make a huge effort to measure and evaluate every teacher, correct for all the external variables, identify the ones on the bottom end … and boot them out. Sort of like chopping one tail off the end of the normal distribution.

                  Of course while you’ve improved things for a very small minority of students, who now presumably get teachers closer to the normalised average… but you actually haven’t done anything for the vast majority of pupils..

                  The alternative is to invest in the quality of teaching across the board, as CGE above very nicely describes. Lift the game for all teachers, move the entire normal bell curve up the range, or at the very least tighten it up reducing the spread between the best and the worst… and for much the same effort you benefit all pupils..

                  Simple logic.

                  • Anne

                    Simple logic you say.
                    you don unnerstand Red Logix… thats why Anne Tolleys started Nationil Standids an Heka Paratar wants Leeg tables. It’s so’s the kids get betar edgucarted. Cant ya see that?

                  • Also, a bad teacher in the midst of a positive educational culture that teaches students how to learn as well as what to learn is not as likely to drag down their students.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Teaching how to learn is the most important part of teaching IMO. Teaching to the test, which National Standards encourages/enforces, fails to achieve this.

                    • rosy

                      “Teaching how to learn is the most important part of teaching IMO. Teaching to the test, which National Standards encourages/enforces, fails to achieve this.”

                      And that nails the difference between education and training IMO. National Standards pretty much gives up on the idea of education and promotes training. The Finnish system (and ours, pre-National Standards) promotes education first. Training for jobs can more effectively come later.

              • Hi Rusty,

                I think you’ve just identified the problem with ‘performance based pay’ in education. TOEIC, according to an official at the Industrial Bank of Korea “isn’t an appropriate indicator of actual English skills.” 

                Performance based pay encourages teachers to train their pupils as efficiently as possible simply to tick ‘standard’ boxes rather than to have the capacities that the tick box supposedly  measures – but which is not and cannot be a sufficient measure of what it claims to measure.

                The measure is implemented, of course, simply to satisfy a bureaucratic need based on a policy requirement. So, the policy maker is happy, the bureaucrat is happy, the teacher (and their institution) is happy and, to the extent that they achieve the tick in the box, the pupil is happy.

                The only unhappy ones are the ‘end users’ who ‘consume’ the pupil’s supposed skills – they soon discover that they’ve been scammed, by the whole institutionalised process. And – this the real kicker – there’s nothing they can do about it because it’s all legal, above board and everyone’s fulfilled their part of the ‘contract’.

                Still, it’s good that ‘star’ teachers get to make 500,000 out of it, I suppose. 

              • Vicky32

                There are people in Korea who make a 500K a year because they get results. ie. they guarantee you will get an A in the TOEIC test or your money back.

                Yes, we have schools like that here (Auckland) and I have had the bad luck to work for one of them. They cheat the students, recruiting them with promises and lies. Stars my left tit! IMO, TOEIC is pretty easy to cheat – IELTS is another matter…

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  As I said, I merely used the Toeic as an example. It’s the most popular evaluation method in these parts. I wan’t making any value judgements about it, or any other form of testing. If you don’t like it, then nice for you.

          • Populuxe1 3.1.1.1.2

            Unless you’ve actually done some teaching, you should probably not pursue the “Teaching isn’t that hard” – especially because it’s bullshit.

            • Rusty Shackleford 3.1.1.1.2.1

              Well, I am an EFL instructor. I admit, I wouldn’t call what I do day to day “teaching” per se but I have done “real” teaching before in a performance and results based context. And I agree whole heartedly. It is extremely difficult to do well. But, not as difficult to do well as say, build a bridge or perform open heart surgery.

              • Macro

                “I have done “real” teaching before in a performance and results based context.”
                And you call that teaching?
                You don’t know what your talking about do you?
                Performance and results has everything to do with instruction and training, but actually nothing much to do with education. That is why Finland’s education system is so successful. It wouldn’t do here of course. In Finland they don’t start teaching children to read until 6 years of age. By that age most muddle class parents in NZ would be having apoplexy.

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  “Performance and results has everything to do with instruction and training, but actually nothing much to do with education.”
                  I don’t know what that means. Are they some technical education pedagogy terms? I admit, I’m not trained as a teacher, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t expectations on me.

                  Yes, Finland has good educational results but is it because they delay reading instruction? How would that lead to better outcomes?

                  • RedLogix

                    Yes, Finland has good educational results but is it because they delay reading instruction? How would that lead to better outcomes?

                    The experience of the Steiner based schools world-wide over many decades is that it is more useful to use the early years to teach what the child’s mind is truly receptive to, and argue that reading is not a skill that the mind naturally accepts until about the age of 9-10yrs.

                    Then when they are ready to start reading, and all the preparatory stages have been put in place before (they actually teach writing and symbols before reading)… the child simply starts reading with scarcely any effort. And often at a surprisingly high level. They usually skip the “Run Spot Run” books and go straight into age appropriate material.

                    As a result this system tends to have much higher levels of enjoyment for both children and teachers, much lower frustration, and better outcomes for those with a tendency to dyslexia.

          • Vicky32 3.1.1.1.3

            Teaching isn’t that hard. It’s hard to be a good teacher, but adequate teachers are a dime a dozen.

            Yeah, right, as the Tui adverts say (but you as an American, wouldn’t know that.) I take it you’re an ESOL teacher (or as y’all say ‘EFL) and so am I. Yes, it is that hard if you take it seriously. I take it you teach TOEIC, which is the easy way (I teach IELTS, which is stricter and – yes, more serious.)
            Adequate teachers are not a dime a dozen, I assure you.

            • Rusty Shackleford 3.1.1.1.3.1

              I’m from Invercargill. I drunk that swill in Dunedin for 3 years. I’m in Korea and my job description says “Native English Teacher”. I have no idea what it’s called that I teach. I get handed a text book and told “You handsome guy, good teacher, you teach well”, and that’s about the extent of my instructions. I don’t teach TOEIC. As I said, I was using it as an example. It’s the most popular test of language ability for businesses here. You need a good TOEIC score if you want to get a good job.

              • McFlock

                If you’d moved on from the Cook, you would have discovered Speights or even Emersons range of specialty brews.

              • Vicky32

                I have no idea what it’s called that I teach. I get handed a text book and told “You handsome guy, good teacher, you teach well”

                Unbelievable! Do you have any training? (I suspect not.)
                Have you forgotten your having admitted to being an American? That’s relevant inasmuch as it explains a lot of your stonking ignorance of NZ and what it’s like…
                People like you make the lives of legitimate, well-educated and trained ESOL teachers like me. much harder than need be. (The fact that you’re a handsome guy as you say you are, should have absolutely nothing to do with it. If looking like Brad Pitt is a criterion, pity help your students, and no wonder you think teaching is easy!)

              • felix

                “I have no idea what it’s called that I teach.”

                From my observations, Rusty, I’d say your specialty is in teaching your Grandmother to suck eggs.

                • Rusty Shackleford

                  “From my observations, Rusty…”
                  Really, is this necessary?

                  “Have you forgotten your having admitted to being an American?”
                  Erm… I think you had better go and get your reading comprehension tested there, doll face. I’d get that sorted before you go about questioning my qualifications.

                  “People like you make the lives of legitimate, well-educated and trained ESOL teachers like me. much harder than need be.”
                  I do the work my employers ask me to do. I have no formal training, but my employers provide the extra support and training and they deem that adequate. If I had a teaching degree and a PH.D I would be paid exactly $109 more a month starting wage than I would with just a Ba. At this point, with the experience I have, it makes zero difference. Those things aren’t valued by my employer, for whatever reason. That isn’t my fault or problem. All i do is the task I am set. That is what a job is.

                  I’m not sure how this became all about me.

                  “The fact that you’re a handsome guy as you say you are”
                  Again, reading comprehension. Where have I ever said that?

                  • Vicky32

                    Erm… I think you had better go and get your reading comprehension tested there, doll face.

                    Calling me doll face is both an insult and am Americanism, d*** face! 😛

                    I’m not sure how this became all about me.

                    Simple! As you often do, you made it about you.

                    “The fact that you’re a handsome guy as you say you are”
                    Again, reading comprehension. Where have I ever said that?

                    It’s in your own quote, dumb-arse! “I have no idea what it’s called that I teach. I get handed a text book and told “You handsome guy, good teacher, you teach well”,
                    If you wanted to disagree about your own handsomeness, you’d have said so. IMO, people like you, with no training and no qualifications ought never to be let loose near a classroom. From what I’ve read from you on other threads, you probably teach your students Rand and American history according to the Tea Party, not English  – or even American! When I get Korean students here, I have to help them un-learn nonsense they’ve learned back in Seoul.

                    • Rusty Shackleford

                      You may notice the comment is quoted. That means someone else said it, not me. Reading!

                      “people like you, with no training and no qualifications ought never to be let loose near a classroom.”
                      People with no economics training on here and in the real world, make grandiose pronouncements about economics and nobody bats an eye lid. Perhaps you are right, but you are making pronouncements about an education system and a classroom situation of which you have demonstrated zero knowledge. There are teachers here who have tons of training and aced the civil service exam (the most important test of whether you are a good teacher or not) but speak almost no English or refuse to speak English during class and conduct the session 100% in Korean. Make of that what you will.

                      “…you probably teach your students Rand and American history according to the Tea Party, not English”
                      Please do shut up. You probably teach your student about how Labour is going to bring in a socialist utopia (see how dumb that sounds?) I could probably dig up a thread from a EFL teachers site where I criticise a person for the lesson plan they posted (there is a huge community of EFL teachers who support each other with lesson planning) because it was overtly political. I never discuss or teach political matters because it isn’t my job to indoctrinate other peoples’ kids. I leave that to their “Korean Ethics” teacher. Did you know Korea is the only country in the world with four seasons and that kimchi is world famous?

                      “When I get Korean students here, I have to help them un-learn nonsense they’ve learned back in Seoul.”
                      Do you have kids you’ve known for three years say “Nice to meet you”? Look to the teachers (where they get 99% of their instruction) I mentioned above. The Foreign English teachers have very little impact on the final product of most of the kids.

                      So, where is that evidence that I’m an American who thinks he is handsome? (which I’m not btw. I’m ridiculously fuckn’ handsome! ; )

      • Fortran 3.1.2

        Great Holidays.
        Understand that Teachers and their partners are one of the largest group of rental proprty owners.

  4. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 4

    with few tests and excellent teachers, they don’t need to bag any “bad” ones.

    Loving the quotation marks around “bad”. Like a bad teacher just could not exist.

  5. Jellytussle 5

    One of the best reasons I’ve seen to explain the educational success of Scandinavian countries is quite simply television! Long nights wrapped up in front of the box watching american shows with subtitles in Finnish. This provides opportunities for regular reading at a nice lively pace in a meaningful setting.

  6. Rusty Shackleford 6

  7. Georgecom 7

    A fairly simple switch in language for Shearer could fix alot of his speech.

    “We need to value teachers. We need every teacher in our classroom to be a good one. The vast majority are. But the truth is some are not”…

    …”There are procedures in place to deal with teacher that are not competent or should not be teaching. We have confidence that will remove the teachers who do not belong in the profession”…

    …We will work with teachers to develop their professional skills…

    …by reintroducing quality professional development for teachers that focuses on good teaching and good learning outcomes for children.We will ensure support services are available to help teachers deliver this quality teaching. This worked well during our last term in office and we are confident it will work again. Figures showed that during our last term in government literacy rates increased by blah blah and numeracy rates lifted by blah blah. We will have an unrelenting focus on quality professional development for teachers which will provide quality learning outcomes for our children. We are ambitious to ensure our teachers are excellent and children receive an excellent education.

    No teacher will argue with that, no parent will argue with that. It is also an alternative narrative to the sillyness of National Standards.

  8. David Shearer spoke well about to maintain a Strong Economic Country, but the main thing is to follow what he was saying.

  9. squirrel 9

    Its interesting that the quoted article emphasized that Finlands education system focused on producing thinking creative students. I firmly believe that standardized testing inevitably measures a very narrow range of skills and abilities many of which have little application in the real world. Creativity, entrepreneurship, leadership skills and the ability to critically engage with society are very hard if not impossible to measure. If an education system is focused on kids passing tests then these skills will not receive much attention. After all why have kids engaging in lively discussion or playing with circuits when they could be memorizing the material which is in the next test.

  10. locus 10

    Also from Dr. Sahlberg, in Finland “the primary aim of education is to serve as an equalizing instrument for society”

    Now that kind of remark from Shearer would have been great, but would’ve alienated all the soft right that NZ New Labour are aiming for.

    • Populuxe1 10.1

      Silly me, and I thought the primary role of education was to was to get the most from an individual’s intellectual ability and talents. Why should the gifted be denied for the sake of an “equal” society/ Mind you, “equal” has a very different meaning in the homogeneous monocultures than it does in multicultural Aotearoa-New Zealand.

  11. Fortran 11

    Having been to Finland it is one of the most boring, unfriendly places I have ever been to.
    The people are morose and equally dull, and rude to foreigners.
    You can keep Finland.

  12. Tony 12

    I live in Finland and it is a wonderful country, there is probably nowhere else I would want to bring kids up (not the prime reason I moved here, but contributing factor for sure). People have an introvert nature compared to some societies, they are not boastful, or egotistical and they feel no need to flaunt wealth as there is not any sort of social stigmas or social hierarchy here. You may call that dull or morose, I call it a perfect society. As for Finland being rude to foreigners, it can be construed this way yes, but really they are not. They don’t waste time with pleasantries here, they don’t even have the word please in their own language, they don’t do idle chat and added to the language barrier and many people are not confident speaking English (especially to a native English speaker as they think they will be judged) then that is why you found it tough going.

  13. Georgy 13

    Finland is a great model to follow – but it is only that. It is not possible to transpose a system from one country to another. NZ already has a very good public education system according to the measures that show Finland is at the top.

    Some of their “best practice” is inherently “cultural” and wont translate – for example a teacher stays with a class for the whole of their primary school programme from year 1 to year 8. I dont think this could be implemented in NZ.

    What we need to do is build on the capacity we already have – yes, look at best practice in other parts of the world, especially places like Finland. But we have developed a very effective model for improving practice in the Literacy and Numeracy professional development contracts – a .6 effect change gained when schools were part of this contract for prof deve of teachers.

    There is absolutely no way “performance” can be sensibly measured and rewarded in the teaching profession. Nobody really knows what is being measured and who is actually responsible for the “gains” being measured.

    Far better to continue the present system: collective contracts, professional development and focus on improving assessment practices in schools in a way that sound methodology is used without it becoming an end in itself. Also cap class sizes and redirect resources to providing schools with additional non-contact teachers who can provide additional support for children and their needs across curriculum, social and health needs.

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    Labour sees the United States warship visit as a red letter day for New Zealand’s non-nuclear status, which is core to our identity and has defined us a nation for 30 years, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Annette King. ...
    3 days ago
  • Time for honest dairy sector conversation
    ...
    3 days ago
  • What next? Dog kennels?
    Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett needs to explain why the Government thinks it is acceptable for it to refer families to live in garages and sheds, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This is a new low, just when you ...
    3 days ago
  • Banks bust a move, Government possum in the headlights
    Three of the big four banks have acted responsibly by bringing the shutters down on property speculators earlier than required by the Reserve Bank, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It’s a shame the Government isn’t as motivated to act ...
    3 days ago
  • Latest OECD dairy forecast raises serious questions for economy
    The latest global dairy price forecast shows that New Zealand dairy farmers will not reach a break-even payout before 2019 at the earliest, and will not reach the dairy price factored into this year’s Budget until after 2025, Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    3 days ago
  • National’s reckless, out of touch approach to economy exposed
    Today’s economic assessment from the Reserve Bank highlights the danger to the New Zealand economy from a National government that is recklessly complacent in the face of a housing crisis and a struggling export sector, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. ...
    3 days ago
  • GP’s visits get more expensive
      Visiting the GP is set to become more expensive after the Government ignored warnings that people were not receiving access to affordable  healthcare, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Over 400,000 New Zealanders who should be able to access ...
    5 days ago
  • Farm prices bear brunt of dairy downturn
    The slump in dairy prices that has seen farm prices drop to their lowest level since 2012 and down a third from their peak in 2014 will be of concern to farmers, banks and our overall financial stability, Labour’s Finance ...
    5 days ago
  • Reserve Bank “gets on with it”, National carries on in denial
    The proposal by the Reserve Bank to tighten loan to value ratios for investors shows they are prepared to do their bit to crack down on speculators, while National is still stuck in denial mode, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. ...
    5 days ago
  • Housing crisis holds up interest rate cuts
    The housing crisis that National still wants to deny is stifling the New Zealand economy, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The latest Consumers Price Index shows that all prices excluding housing and household utilities decreased 0.5 per cent – ...
    6 days ago
  • Housing crisis holds up interest rate cuts
    The housing crisis that National still wants to deny is stifling the New Zealand economy, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The latest Consumers Price Index shows that all prices excluding housing and household utilities decreased 0.5 per cent – ...
    6 days ago
  • Govt’s state house sell-off ramping up
    Government plans to ramp up the state house sell-off by selling another 1000 houses in 2016/17 will mean more families in need missing out, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New figures show the Government plans to sell 1000 ...
    6 days ago
  • Govt’s state house sell-off ramping up
    Government plans to ramp up the state house sell-off by selling another 1000 houses in 2016/17 will mean more families in need missing out, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “New figures show the Government plans to sell 1000 ...
    6 days ago
  • National must reassure exporters on dumping case
        The National Government needs to show our key exporters that they are in control of any anti-dumping case against China before it damages some of our most important industries, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.     ...
    7 days ago
  • National must reassure exporters on dumping case
        The National Government needs to show our key exporters that they are in control of any anti-dumping case against China before it damages some of our most important industries, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.     ...
    7 days ago
  • Papers describe litany of incredulity
    Treasury documents which slate the Government’s plans for a national bowel screening programme confirm the proposal was nothing more than a political stunt to cover up underfunding of the health sector, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette Kings says.  The papers were ...
    1 week ago
  • Effect of rampant house prices widens
    The latest house price figures from REINZ show the housing crisis expanding throughout the country, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “We are seeing steep increases in median house prices in Central Otago Lakes – up 42.4% in the last ...
    1 week ago
  • Public invited to have say on homelessness
    People who are homeless, those who were once homeless, those working with the homeless and concerned New Zealanders are being asked to share their experiences and solutions to this growing issue with the Cross-Party Homelessness Inquiry. This inquiry was launched ...
    1 week ago
  • Sorry seems to be the hardest word
    An apology from Hekia Parata to the people of Christchurch is long overdue, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. "As if the earthquakes weren't traumatic enough, Hekia Parata and the Ministry of Education then attacked the one thing that had ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing crisis affecting more than 98 per cent of NZ
    Labour’s new housing map shows the housing crisis is now affecting more than 98 per cent of New Zealand, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Housing pressures have seen house prices rise faster than wages in all but four ...
    1 week ago
  • Uber might not be a taxi firm but it must pay tax
    Uber needs to explain how it paid only $9000 in tax when it earned $1m in revenue and is one of the fastest growing companies in the country, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Uber New Zealand appears to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tax changes should have been made 3 years ago
    National could have avoided the international stain on our reputation from the Panama Papers if it had let IRD’s planned review of foreign trusts go ahead three years ago, instead of now belatedly acting because of the Shewan recommendations, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must stop state house sell-off
    The Government must immediately pull the plug on its planned sell-off of state houses in order to stop the housing crisis getting any worse, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “While Paula Bennett is putting people into transit camps in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Thoughts on Labour’s new housing policies
    The Labour Party launched its package of ideas to fix the housing crisis over the weekend. Their ideas match ours in many ways. This is good news, because it means that when we change the government we’ll be ready to ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis drives household debt to record levels
    The Finance Minister must be woken from his slumber by Westpac’s report today that says house prices have largely driven household debt to record levels and are rising at a pace faster than other developed economies, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    2 weeks ago
  • English denies dividend decision made – Joyce should delete his account
    National must explain who is right in the Housing NZ dividend debacle, after Bill English said no decision had been made on a payment for the next two years, in direct contrast to Steven Joyce, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pressure forces Govt to make policy on the hoof
    Steven Joyce’s surprise announcement that Housing NZ will no longer be used as a cash cow has forced the Finance Minister to make one of National’s biggest ever U-turns, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “After years of insisting the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 10-fold more affordable houses under Labour
    New data showing homeownership rates continue to fall and more Kiwis than ever rent, highlights why Labour’s plan to build 10 times more affordable housing in Auckland is so desperately needed, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Labour’s Affordable Housing ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of excuses, Brownlee resorts to scare tactics
    Gerry Brownlee’s ridiculous suggestion that Labour would nationalise Christchurch’s east frame shows National has resorted to scare tactics to hide its failure to build desperately needed affordable houses in our city, Labour's Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods says. “Plans put in ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National all at sea in face of Labour’s housing plan
    Labour’s comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis has left National Ministers flailing about, contradicting themselves and simply making things up, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Steven Joyce has said in one breath that Labour’s plan represents a minor tweak ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s comprehensive plan to tackle housing crisis
    The next Labour Government has a comprehensive plan to tackle the housing crisis by building affordable houses and cracking down on speculators, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “The housing crisis is out of control and National has proven ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing NZ to look after people, not profits
    Labour will change Housing NZ from a corporation to a public service and use the dividends it formerly paid into the Crown coffers to maintain and build more state houses, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Housing NZ should ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government breaks rent subsidies promise
    National has broken a promise to subsidise the rent of 3000 low-income New Zealanders to make up for its state house sell-off, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “When John Key announced last year the Government would sell-off 8000 state ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Banks the latest to voice concerns over housing
    The Reserve Bank has revealed banks are becoming “more and more concerned” about the effects of the housing crisis, adding yet another weighty voice to the calls for action from the Government, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Reserve ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New official figures show DHB’s financial strife
    New figures from the Ministry of Health show 12 out of 20 district health boards have not been fully funded this year to cope with the aging population, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.“The Ministry’s own figures to the Health ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Reserve Bank pleas for action from Government
    The Reserve Bank has stopped asking and is now pleading with the Government to take urgent action on the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Deputy Governor Grant Spencer is clearly deeply concerned about the housing crisis. The ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to house 5100 more homeless a year
    There would be 1400 new emergency accommodation places – enough to put a roof over the heads of 5100 homeless people a year – under Labour’s emergency housing policy announced today, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Too many of our ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Chilcot Report shows Labour was right on Iraq
    The Chilcot Report released today shows John Key was wrong to call New Zealand “MIA” over the 2003 war in Iraq and Labour made the right decision not to send troops, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “At the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bigger class sizes on the way under National
    Hekia Parata’s refusal to rule out bigger class sizes as a result of her new bulk funding regime speaks volumes about the real agenda behind her proposed changes, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Hekia Parata has proposed that schools ...
    3 weeks ago
  • National refuses to put people ahead of politics
    National’s refusal to rise above partisan politics and support a parliamentary inquiry into homelessness is hugely disappointing, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “This is such an important issue that politics should be put aside and parties should work ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister in denial over Pacific home ownership fall
    As long as the Minister of Pacific Peoples continues to deny that Pacific families have had the greatest home-ownership falls under his Government’s watch, nothing serious will be done to fix the housing crisis, says Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Social Bonds experiment a failure
    The Government’s much vaunted social bonds experiment is a multi-million dollar failure, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “The news that the Wise Group has now withdrawn from the project to develop a pilot for mental health employment services, shows ...
    3 weeks ago
  • John Key must ‘get on with it’, not leave it to Reserve Bank
    John Key can’t just tell the Reserve Bank to ‘get on with’ fixing the housing crisis – he must act to tackle the rampant speculation in the housing market that has taken place under his watch, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson ...
    3 weeks ago
  • No gains for Māori while National in power
    The Minister of Māori Development needs to be honest with his people and admit his party’s ongoing support of the National Government has seen increasing inequality and decreasing prosperity for Māori, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.  “Te Ururoa Flavell had ...
    3 weeks ago
  • No gains for Māori while National in power
    The Minister of Māori Development needs to be honest with his people and admit his party’s ongoing support of the National Government has seen increasing inequality and decreasing prosperity for Māori, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri.  “Te Ururoa Flavell had ...
    3 weeks ago

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