I have the highest respect for education and for teachers who teach what they do because they have the intellectual wherewithal and passion to do so. But I cringe when I read something fraught with grammatical errors, especially when I learn it was written by an English teacher. I cringe when I hear that a grade school Math teacher is afraid of Algebra.
So why teach a particular subject of which you are devoid of competence? You can always say no to teaching that subject and choose to teach one where you are comfortable. OR can you?
I did that. When I was offered to teach Geometry I refused. I couldn’t draw a perfect circle even if my life depended on it. I am a klutz so even with that huge wooden compass my teacher used to wield in class as an aid, I refused the offer because I feared that my students might think circles look like ellipses (or vice versa) and are not closed curves.
I was also offered to teach Religion? Whaaaat? No way, I said. My faith is very personal, I didn’t think I could teach it. So I refused.
But wait. I guess it was wrong of me to write this entry on the premise that you can always refuse to teach a subject in which you have no competence. How many scientists are there who can afford to teach elementary Science? How many mathematicians are there who can afford to teach elementary Math? And the list goes on. In using the word “afford”, I am referring to opportunity/income loss inherent to being a teacher, at least in our country–especially if one has a family to feed, clothe and house. There are exceptions, of course.
Back in high school, I wrote in a Religion exam about my dream to be a teacher but for the meager pay it entailed. The nun who taught us, a Filipino Benedictine nun, did not score my exam low, but she did write on the margin, “Our teachers aren’t starving, are they?” I guess they weren’t but then again, they had to forego some creature comforts by opting to teach. Sad really, but a reality, that’s for sure. Years after I graduated from high school, I learned that some of my teachers had left for the US to be caregivers. The economics of teaching was such that they couldn’t stay on. They wanted economically better lives for their families. And who could blame them?
The same argument calls to mind a friend’s answer when I asked if she would enter the convent. She said “No, because I love my aircon.” I could see her point, but now I wonder, in this day and age, perhaps she would have had her aircon after all? The reality back then, however, was that poverty was a vow more rigidly observed by the religious.
Why this post suddenly? Because of your FB post, C. Were these true of the Philippines, we likely might have a whole slew of better equipped teachers joining and staying in academe?
26 Amazing Facts About Finland’s Unorthodox Education System
Since it implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland’s school system has consistently come at the top for the international rankings for education systems.
So how do they do it?
It’s simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralized model that much of the Western world uses.
Finnish children don’t start school until they are 7.
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They rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
Getty: Tony Lewis
All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.
Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.
30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
66 percent of students go to college.
The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World.
Getty: Tony Lewis
Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.
93 percent of Finns graduate from high school.
43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools.
Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.
Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for “professional development”.
Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students.
All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidized.
In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots
The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008
However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make.
In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and mathematics.
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It’s consistently come top or very near every time since.
And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic
Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies.