Monday, December 9, 2013

We never tire of making the world smaller

There has been a lot of discussion and new items about PISA 2012 results here in Finland, due to Finland dropping 10 steps lower in the ranking to position 12. It seems that children are no longer interested in learning, especially boys. Reading comprehension is dropping rapidly, as well as math problem solving skills.

The photograph was taken at Brussels airport, showing two readers, one of them using a tablet, the other reading a newspaper. And what is visible in the background photograph if not the tower of Pisa.

(Posting title is from the poem Replica by Marvin Bell.)


Cedric Canard said...

This is an excellent image. I don't know if you consciously composed your image so as to have the leaning tower framed like that or if it was one of those happy accidents but it is a perfect metaphor for what I feel is happening with the education system. It is failing our children. The education system uses mostly pre-digital age techniques to teach kids who have never known a world without the Internet. And giving kids a laptop isn't enough. The entire curriculum needs to be rebuilt from the ground up before it topples over.
My 14yro daughter is a straight A student but she finds no passion or purpose in any of her subjects. How difficult must it be for those children for whom things don't come so easily.
My daughter even wrote an essay aimed at teachers and parents about the choice of reading material given to children in school. She tried to show that the so-called "classics" were no longer relevant to children of her generation and that it was time to put down George Orwell and start giving contemporary writers a go. I thought she did a great job (she even made a movie) but the chances of it having any impact are slim.
Anyway, I should stop. This is something I am too passionate about and I can ramble on far too long.
Excellent picture Juha. Very telling maybe even prophetic.

Juha Haataja said...

This photograph was a happy accident, and there was something rather familiar about the situation, as if I had been in exactly the same place with the same people in the Brussels airport - and maybe I have been.

The Pisa tower I noticed only later when looking through the photographs.

As you say, there is something challenging happening with children's education. Where is the motivation, why should one learn? What does it mean to learn writing, mathematics, history? Should one learn to program in schools? (As suggested by the European Commission.)

In Sweden (which fell rather dramatically in the Pisa results) there has been discussion about introduction more discipline into schools, to force students to be on time etc. But I don't really feel that discipline is the key. Learning should be interesting, and teachers should be able to get students to learn, to make some effort, but not with force.