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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.


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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 : )

              • “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. 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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    “The latest export data from Statistics New Zealand paints a picture of an economy which is not paying its way in the world, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Exports fell 9% - led by milk powder exports falling to ...
    6 hours ago
  • Correction over Talley’s statement
    Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway has been advised by AFFCO Ltd that AFFCO is not advertising for staff in the Manawatu through MSD as stated in a press statement released earlier today.  “I have been advised by AFFCO that ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister, cut your losses – withdraw this doomed Bill
    Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga’s request for a five month extension on the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) is an admission that the Bill is fundamentally flawed, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson ...
    3 days ago
  • Coleman’s cuts create crisis
    Mental health services in New Zealand are in a state of crisis with Youthline saying that calls for extreme depression doubled last year, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “About 150 young Kiwis are missing out on help ...
    3 days ago
  • Government helping Talley’s to break workers
    The Ministry for Social Development appears to be assisting Talley’s-Affco replace experienced workers effectively locked out by the company, say Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni and Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “MSD is advertising for meat processing workers for ...
    3 days ago
  • Electives lag due to $1.7 billion hole
    The lag in hip and knee replacements is a direct consequence of the Government’s $1.7 billion underfunding of health, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “A comprehensive study by the University of Otago says that the rate of ...
    3 days ago
  • Speech to Master Builders’ Constructive conference
    Today’s all about being Constructive. And that is good because I believe there is a hunger out there for positive solutions. We must be able to believe there can be a better future. ...
    3 days ago
  • Māori Party housing plan complete failure
    The Māori Party’s housing plan to put more Māori into more homes has been a complete failure with fewer than five loans granted per year, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    4 days ago
  • Fund IRD better to go after tax avoiders
    National’s Tax Working Group used the following graph (p30) in 2010 as part of their justification to cut the top tax rate. The big peaks around the top tax threshold were evidence of a suspiciously high number of taxpayers ...
    GreensBy robert.ashe
    4 days ago
  • Pasifika youth ignored by the Government
    The Adolescent Health Research Group’s new report on the wellbeing of young Pacific people shines a spotlight on the Government’s failure  to deliver any “brighter future” for them, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “Their research shows ...
    4 days ago
  • Police in the provinces are dissatisfied
    Police in the cities of Gisborne, Napier and Hastings are a lot more unhappy than their big city cousins says Labour’s Police Spokesman Stuart Nash.     “In fact the top four districts for enjoyable work within NZ Police are ...
    4 days ago
  • Govt action needed after Wheeler holds
    The Reserve Bank Governor’s warning that “excessive house price inflation” is posing a risk to financial stability puts the pressure back on the Government to take action to address the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler’s ...
    4 days ago
  • Minister confirms – new ministry only about abuse
    ...
    5 days ago
  • Silver Ferns Farms decision a tragedy
    The rubber stamping by the Overseas Investment Office of the Shanghai Maling buyout of Silver Fern Farms is a sorry day for the once proud New Zealand meat sector, says Labour’s spokesperson for Primary Industries, Damien O’Connor.  “Generations of Kiwis ...
    5 days ago
  • Benching Nick Smith first step to Kermadec solution
    Side-lining Nick Smith must be the first step in sorting out the Government's Kermadec debacle, says Labour's Fisheries Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “Last week Labour called for Nick Smith to be removed from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana over the ...
    6 days ago
  • Parents, schools, teachers oppose bulk funding
    Overwhelming opposition to the National Government’s school bulk funding proposal is unsurprising and Hekia Parata should now unequivocally rule out proceeding with the idea, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Bulk funding could only lead to bigger class sizes or ...
    6 days ago
  • MBIE gives up on enforcing the law
      The Government must provide labour inspectors with the resources they need to enforce basic employment law after reports that MBIE is only prosecuting the worst cases, says Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Today’s news that MBIE ...
    6 days ago
  • West Coast population declines amid bleak economic forecast
    Despite the country experiencing record population growth, the number of people living in the West Coast fell, highlighting struggles in the region from low commodity prices and a poor economic forecast, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “The latest ...
    6 days ago
  • Recovery roadblocks cause for concern
    Strong pressure on mental health services, a flagging local economy and widespread issues with dodgy earthquake repairs are all causes for concern for people in Canterbury according to a new survey, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Today the CDHB’s ...
    6 days ago
  • Motel purchase must not kick people onto the street
    The Government’s purchase of a South Auckland motel to house the homeless must come with a promise that the current long term tenants will not be kicked out onto the streets, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It is bizarre ...
    1 week ago
  • Not everyone singing along to so-called rock star economy
    The Westpac McDermott Miller Confidence Survey shows there is serious unease about the economy’s ability to deliver benefits to many New Zealanders, despite the Government trumpeting headline figures, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “According to this survey a significantly ...
    1 week ago
  • Youth no better off under National’s “guarantee”
    John Key’s Youth Guarantee is such a spectacular failure that those who undertake the programme are more likely to end up on a benefit and less likely to end up in full-time employment than those who don’t, Leader of the ...
    1 week ago
  • More low-skilled students becoming residents
    New figures showing international students now make up nearly 40 per cent of all principal applicants approved for New Zealand residency and that their skill level has fallen dramatically, are further evidence that National’s immigration system is broken, says Labour’s ...
    1 week ago
  • 35% of offshore speculators paying no tax
    Offshore investors are aggressively exploiting tax breaks to pay no tax on their rental properties according to IRD data released by Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “35% of offshore investors are paying no tax on their properties, and are pocketing ...
    1 week ago
  • Friday fish dump stinks
    This government has dumped bad news on a Friday to try to avoid political scrutiny in Parliament, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker. ...
    1 week ago
  • OECD report card: National must try harder
    The OECD report on education shows there’s much more to be done for young Kiwis, Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    1 week ago
  • Kermadec stoush shows Maori Party double-standards
    The Māori Party’s reaction to the trampled Treaty rights and the Government’s lack of consultation on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary reeks of the same arrogant mismanagement of the unpopular Maori land reforms, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri says. ...
    1 week ago
  • Flawed fish dumping calls
    The finding that MPI failed to properly enforce the law even when it had evidence of fish dumping seriously damages the trust and credibility of the Ministry, the industry and this Government, Labour's Fisheries Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. ...
    1 week ago
  • Sidestepping Smith should be side-lined
    Nick Smith's arrogance and disrespect towards Māori is putting the future of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary at risk and he needs to excuse himself from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana, Labour's Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must respond to cash for jobs scam
    Urgent Government action is required to halt  the emerging cash-for-jobs immigration scandal that is taking hold in New Zealand says Labour’s Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Stories of rogue immigration agents scamming thousands of dollars from migrant workers are just further ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government dragging its feet on surgical mesh
    Jonathan Coleman is dragging his feet over any action to protect New Zealanders from more disasters with surgical mesh, says Health Spokesperson Annette King.  “The Government’s pathetic response is to claim all will be fixed by a new regime to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s baby number app goes gangbusters
    An interactive tool that celebrates Labour’s achievements in health over the decades has become an online hit, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Since the tool was launched last night, 18 thousand people have used it to find their baby ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Real disposable income falls in last three months
    Kiwis are working harder than ever but real disposable income per person fell in the last quarter thanks to record population increases, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said. ‘In Budget 2016 the National Government said that what mattered most for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Baby number app celebrates Labour achievements
    Labour has launched an interactive tool that allows New Zealanders to take a look back at our achievements in health over the decades, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Today is the 78th anniversary of the Social Security Act 1938, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Legal experts unpick Māori land reforms
    One of New Zealand’s top law firms has joined the chorus of legal experts heavily critical of the controversial Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill, adding more weight to the evidence that the reforms fall well beneath the robust legal standards ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Industries most reliant on immigration worst offenders
    The industries most reliant on immigration are the worst offenders when it comes to meeting their most basic employment obligations, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “The industries that are most reliant on immigration are Hospitality, Administration, Agriculture, Forestry and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to remove law that discriminates against sole parents
    It’s time to repeal a harmful law that sanctions those who do not name the other parent of their child, Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Every week, 17,000 children are missing out because their sole parent is being ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government handling of Kermadecs threatens Treaty rights
    ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister should give Police Minister some backbone
    The Prime Minister should condemn the ridiculously light sentence given to Nikolas Delegat for seriously assaulting a police woman, Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government listens to Labour on family violence
    Labour is pleased the Government has finally acted on strengthening a range of measures against family violence, says Labour’s spokesperson on Family Violence Poto Williams.  “Some of the latest changes including a new family violence offence of non-fatal strangulation is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must rethink paying for police checks
    National’s decision to ignore the concerns of charities will see the voluntary sector face hundreds of thousands of dollars in new costs if the Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill passes, says Labour's Community and Voluntary Sector spokesperson Poto Williams.  “National’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seven months for families in cars to be housed
    Disturbing new figures show it is now taking the Ministry of Social Development an average of seven months to house families who are living in cars, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “John Key made a song and dance ...
    2 weeks ago
  • North Korea test must be condemned
    The nuclear test by North Korea that registered 5.3 on the Richter scale needs to be condemned, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “This test, coming hard on the heels of a missile launch a few days ago, shows ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tribe footing the bill for Maori Party?
     Waikato-Tainui deserve committed representation, yet the President of the Maori Party is muddying the waters by confusing the core business of the tribe with party politics, says Labour’s Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta.  “The only way to fix this growing negative ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools set to lose millions
    Schools will start 2017 grappling with a $7.8 million funding cut, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Hekia Parata has been adamant changes to the way our schools are funded would see them better off. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 70% of families in cold, damp homes powerless to fix them
    Shocking new figures out today show 70 per cent of the families living in cold, damp homes are powerless to make improvements because they are in rental properties, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The 2016 Household Incomes Report highlights ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Wealth inequality at record levels
    The housing crisis is making inequality worse, with housing costs in New Zealand now way out of proportion for those on the lowest incomes, according to the 2016 Household Incomes Report, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Most New Zealanders ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Migrant exploitation must be stamped out
    Migrant workers are being treated like slaves by rogue employers and the Government has failed to get on top of the issue, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.“A report released by Caritas Aotearoa details ongoing exploitation of migrant workers such ...
    3 weeks ago


History


History


History