Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Alberta, Finland and Curriculum

Here is a video that features the speakers from  a Curriculum Symposium that took place in Edmonton, Alberta.

It's important to not that one of the speakers is Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons. Another speaker is Irmeli Halinen, head of curriculum in Finland.

A highlight from this Curriculum Symposium was when I asked Irmeli Halinen this question:

Q: I asked Irmeli how often would a teacher in Finland have a grade book where the teacher has a collection of grades for homework, projects, tests, quizzes and attitude and then average those grades together in order to provide the students and parents with a final grade.

A: Her initial response was bewilderment and silence. To be clear, nothing was lost in translation; rather, the context of my question simply didn't make any sense to her. After repeating my question, her response was that in Finland they don't care as much about the numerical data. Instead, they care more about the verbal feedback that occurs between the student and the teacher. Assessment is a discussion not a spreadsheet. It's only in grade 8 when children are about 14 years old that students are by law assigned grades; however, they might receive grading as early as grade 4 when they are 8 years old, but this is a decision that is made at the local, municipality level. Irmeli also went on to say that the grades do not help children learn and often encourage them to compete with each other, which is precisely the opposite of the collaborative community Finnish classrooms are designed to be. She also went on to say that grading in Finland is not directly used with end-of year evaluations.


  1. Too perfect, Joe. But this would mean we'd have to really trust our teachers to be measured and practiced in what they understand about their learner, and his/her ability to think and articulate great thoughts! I'll bet their class numbers are half those of Canada and the US. Sounds wonderful! Sign me up!

  2. No Gael, at least the classes I visited in two cities are not smaller in Finland - the teachers spend more time working with the students than assigniing them work to do on their own. As Irmeli claims, the focus of classroom work is not the accumulation of marks but the accumulation of knowledge; both the students' knowledge of curriculum, and the teachers' knowledge of what the student knows.


There was an error in this gadget

Follow by Email