Point 1: Portability

If we want to integrate IT-technology into the daily lives and make it a tool, just like pen and pencil our focus must be availability. It must be there when we need it. How would our daily work be, if we had to book the pencils in advance? Such tools we expect that we have access to all the time.

This means that IT-technology needs to be portable. We need to be able to take it out and put it away, when we are done with it just like we would do with a pencil or a book. I believe that many teachers like these old well known tools, because they work. 

The speaker who I found most fascinating, however, was Anu Partanen, a journalist and author of “What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success.” If you haven’t read this article, it’s worth taking the time. Finland is outpacing the US in education success, and their model is quite different from our own. Many of their practices are easy to digest for me; they are what I regularly advocate. But some are frankly more uncomfortable. Although no model will fit every culture, there are points to consider and examine, and I will share some of the more intriguing ones here:

  1. Finland does not give their kids standardized tests.
  2. Individual schools have curriculum autonomy; individual teachers have classroom autonomy.
  3. It is not mandatory to give students grades until they are in the 8th grade.
  4. All teachers are required to have a master’s degree.
  5. Finland does not have a culture of negative accountability for their teachers. According to Partanen, “bad” teachers receive more professional development; they are not threatened with being fired.
  6. Finland has a culture of collaboration between schools, not competition. Most schools, according to Partanen, perform at the same level, so there is no status in attending a particular facility.
  7. Finland has no private schools.
  8. Education emphasis is “equal opportunity to all.” They value equality over excellence.
  9. A much higher percentage of Finland’s educational budget goes directly into the classroom than it does in the US, as administrators make approximately the same salary as teachers. This also makes Finland’s education more affordable than it is in the US.
  10. Finnish culture values childhood independence; one example: children mostly get themselves to school on their own, by walking or bicycling, etc. Helicopter parenting isn’t really in their vocabulary.
  11. Finnish schools don’t assign homework, because it is assumed that mastery is attained in the classroom.
  12. Finnish schools have sports, but no sports teams. Competition is not valued.
  13. The focus is on the individual child. If a child is falling behind, the highly trained teaching staff recognizes this need and immediately creates a plan to address the child’s individual needs. Likewise, if a child is soaring ahead and bored, the staff is trained and prepared to appropriately address this as well.
  14. Partanen correlated the methods and success of their public schools to US private schools. We already have a model right here at home.
  15. Compulsory school in Finland doesn’t begin until children are 7 years old.

Having a solid social media policy is important for any institution of learning. But building one from the ground up is tricky. A community created one is a great basis for building a policy that matches your exact school.


Just testing the iPhone tumblr app. Quite handy :)

(via Butterfly Fractions: an Easily Remembered Strategy for Adding and Subtracting Fractions Using Cross Multiplication)
Fantastic. The wonderous world of fractions


Teaching is simple - not easy, but simple. Efficiency is not the goal. Standardization is not the goal. The goal is to have a professional teacher in every classroom. Professional teachers have a strong Teaching Philosophy, well grounded in the history of education, learning theories, and teaching…

A student blows up at a teacher, drops the F-bomb. The usual approach at Lincoln – and, safe to say, at most high schools in this country – is automatic suspension. Instead, Sporleder sits the kid down and says quietly: “Wow. Are you OK? This doesn’t sound like you. What’s going on?”

He gets even more specific: “You really looked stressed. On a scale of 1-10, where are you with your anger?” The kid was ready. Ready, man! For an anger blast to his face….”How could you do that?” “What’s wrong with you?”…and for the big boot out of school. But he was NOT ready for kindness.

The armor-plated defenses melt like ice under a blowtorch and the words pour out: “My dad’s an alcoholic. He’s promised me things my whole life and never keeps those promises.” The waterfall of words that go deep into his home life, which is no piece of breeze, end with this sentence: “I shouldn’t have blown up at the teacher.” Whoa.

Students today expect us to be entertainers, and while we find the material itself riveting enough (since we have devoted much of our lives and money to its study), many younger students cannot usually muster the same enthusiasm. I’m not proposing that we dance for our students or even attempt to meet their impossible standards for stimulation. What they want is an opportunity to connect with the professor and the material in a way that is meaningful and applicable to their lives and goals. I don’t think that is too much to ask.