OPINION: Can this 12-step program from Finland aid U.S. education?
Finland system consistently receives top marks from UNICEF
, the OECD
and the World Economic Forum
Many U.S. states are similar in population size and demographics to Finland, and education is largely run at the state level. In the economically depressed forest region of North Karelia — on the Russian border — where we spent much of our time, the unemployment rate is nearly 15 percent
, compared with under 5 percent
in America and our home state of New York
. However, the U.S. child poverty rate is four times higher than Finland’s.
Delegations and universities from China
and around the developing world are visiting Finland to learn how to improve their own school systems.Singapore has launched
a series of Finnish-style school reforms.
n Finland, we heard none of the clichés common in U.S. education reform circles, like “rigor,” “standards-based accountability,” “data-driven instruction,” “teacher evaluation through value-added measurement” or getting children “college- and career-ready” starting in kindergarten.
Instead, Finnish educators and officials constantly stressed to us their missions of helping every child reach his or her full potential and supporting all children’s well-being. “School should be a child’s favorite place,” said Heikki Happonen, an education professor at the University of Eastern Finland and an authority on creating warm, child-centered learning environments.
How can the United States improve its schools? We can start by piloting and implementing these 12 global education best practices, many of which are working extremely well for Finland:
1) Emphasize well-being.
2) Upgrade testing and other assessments.
3) Invest resources fairly.
4) Boost learning through physical activity.
5) Change the focus. Create an emotional atmosphere and physical environment of warmth, comfort and safety so that children are happy and eager to come to school. Teach not just basic skills, but also arts, crafts, music, civics, ethics, home economics and life skills.
6) Make homework efficient. Reduce the homework load in elementary and middle schools to no more than 30 minutes per night, and make it responsibility-based rather than stress-based.
7) Trust educators and children. Give them professional respect, creative freedom and autonomy, including the ability to experiment, take manageable risks and fail in the pursuit of success.
8) Shorten the school day. Deliver lessons through more efficient teaching and scheduling, as Finland does. Simplify curriculum standards to a framework that can fit into a single book, and leave detailed implementation to local districts.
9) Institute universal after-school programs.
10) Improve, expand and destigmatize vocational and technical education. Encourage more students to attend schools in which they can acquire valuable career/trade skills.
11) Launch preventive special-education interventions early and aggressively.
12) Revamp teacher training toward a medical and military model. Shift to treating the teaching profession as a critical national security function requiring government-funded, graduate-level training in research and collaborative clinical practice, as Finland does.
more on Finland Phenomenon in this IMS blog
Caldwell, C. (April, 2017). Sending Jobs Overseas. CRB, 27(2).
Caldwell’s book review of
Baldwin, Richard E. The Great Convergence: Information Technology and the New Globalization. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016. not at SCSU library, available through ILL (https://mplus.mnpals.net/vufind/Record/008770850/Hold?item_id=MSU50008770850000010&id=008770850&hashKey=cff0a018a46178d4d3208ac449d86c4e#tabnav)
Globalization’s cheerleaders, from Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, made arguments from classical economics: by buying manufactured products from people overseas who made them cheaper than we did, the United States could get rich concentrating on product design, marketing, and other lucrative services. That turned out to be a mostly inaccurate description of how globalism would work in the developed world, as mainstream politicians everywhere are now discovering.
Certain skeptics, including polymath author Edward Luttwak and Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, put forward a better account. In his 1998 book Turbo-Capitalism, Luttwak gave what is still the most succinct and accurate reading of the new system’s economic consequences. “It enriches industrializing poor countries, impoverishes the semi-affluent majority in rich countries, and greatly adds to the incomes of the top 1 percent on both sides who are managing the arbitrage.”
In The Great Convergence, Richard Baldwin, an economist at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, gives us an idea why, over the past generation, globalization’s benefits have been so hard to explain and its damage so hard to diagnose.
We have had “globalization,” in the sense of far-flung trade, for centuries now.
ut around 1990, the cost of sharing information at a distance fell dramatically. Workers on complex projects no longer had to cluster in the same factory, mill town, or even country. Other factors entered in. Tariffs fell. The rise of “Global English” as a common language of business reduced the cost of moving information (albeit at an exorbitant cost in culture). “Containerization” (the use of standard-sized shipping containers across road, rail, and sea transport) made packing and shipping predictable and helped break the world’s powerful longshoremen’s unions. Active “pro-business” political reforms did the rest.
Far-flung “global value chains” replaced assembly lines. Corporations came to do some of the work of governments, because in the free-trade climate imposed by the U.S., they could play governments off against one another. Globalization is not about nations anymore. It is not about products. And the most recent elections showed that it has not been about people for a long time. No, it is about tasks.
his means a windfall for what used to be called the Third World. More than 600 million people have been pulled out of dire poverty. They can get richer by building parts of things.
The competition that globalization has created for manufacturing has driven the value-added in manufacturing down close to what we would think of as zilch. The lucrative work is in the design and the P.R.—the brainy, high-paying stuff that we still get to do.
But only a tiny fraction of people in any society is equipped to do lucrative brainwork. In all Western societies, the new formula for prosperity is inconsistent with the old formula for democracy.
One of these platitudes is that all nations gain from trade. Baldwin singles out Harvard professor and former George W. Bush Administration economic adviser Gregory Mankiw, who urged passage of the Obama Administration mega-trade deals TPP and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on the grounds that America should “work in those industries in which we have an advantage compared with other nations, and we should import from abroad those goods that can be produced more cheaply there.”
That was a solid argument 200 years ago, when the British economist David Ricardo developed modern doctrines of trade. In practical terms, it is not always solid today. What has changed is the new mobility of knowledge. But knowledge is a special commodity. It can be reused. Several people can use it at the same time. It causes people to cluster in groups, and tends to grow where those groups have already clustered.
When surgeries involved opening the patient up like a lobster or a peapod, the doctor had to be in physical contact with a patient. New arthroscopic processes require the surgeon to guide cutting and cauterizing tools by computer. That computer did not have to be in the same room. And if it did not, why did it have to be in the same country? In 2001, a doctor in New York performed surgery on a patient in Strasbourg. In a similar way, the foreman on the American factory floor could now coordinate production processes in Mexico. Each step of the production process could now be isolated, and then offshored. This process, Baldwin writes, “broke up Team America by eroding American labor’s quasi-monopoly on using American firms’ know-how.”
To explain why the idea that all nations win from trade isn’t true any longer, Baldwin returns to his teamwork metaphor. In the old Ricardian world that most policymakers still inhabit, the international economy could be thought of as a professional sports league. Trading goods and services resembled trading players from one team to another. Neither team would carry out the deal unless it believed it to be in its own interests. Nowadays, trade is more like an arrangement by which the manager of the better team is allowed to coach the lousier one in his spare time.
Vietnam, which does low-level assembly of wire harnesses for Honda. This does not mean Vietnam has industrialized, but nations like it no longer have to.
In the work of Thomas Friedman and other boosters you find value chains described as kaleidoscopic, complex, operating in a dozen different countries. Those are rare. There is less to “global value chains” than meets the eye. Most of them, Baldwin shows, are actually regional value chains. As noted, they exist on the periphery of the United States, Europe, or Japan. In this, offshoring resembles the elaborate international transactions that Florentine bankers under the Medicis engaged in for the sole purpose of avoiding church strictures on moneylending.
One way of describing outsourcing is as a verdict on the pay structure that had arisen in the West by the 1970s: on trade unions, prevailing-wage laws, defined-benefit pension plans, long vacations, and, more generally, the power workers had accumulated against their bosses.
In 1993, during the first month of his presidency, Bill Clinton outlined some of the promise of a world in which “the average 18-year-old today will change jobs seven times in a lifetime.” How could anyone ever have believed in, tolerated, or even wished for such a thing? A person cannot productively invest the resources of his only life if he’s going to be told every five years that everything he once thought solid has melted into ait.
The more so since globalization undermines democracy, in the ways we have noted. Global value chains are extraordinarily delicate. They are vulnerable to shocks. Terrorists have discovered this. In order to work, free-trade systems must be frictionless and immune to interruption, forever. This means a program of intellectual property protection, zero tariffs, and cross-border traffic in everything, including migrants. This can be assured only in a system that is veto-proof and non-consultative—in short, undemocratic.
Sheltered from democracy, the economy of the free trade system becomes more and more a private space.
Caldwell, C. (2014, November). Twilight of Democracy. CRB, 14(4).
Caldwell’s book review of
Fukuyama, Francis. The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. SCSU Library: https://mplus.mnpals.net/vufind/Record/007359076 Call Number: JC11 .F85 2011
Fukuyama’s first volume opened with China’s mandarin bureaucracy rather than the democracy of ancient Athens, shifting the methods of political science away from specifically Western intellectual genealogies and towards anthropology. Nepotism and favor-swapping are man’s basic political motivations, as Fukuyama sees it. Disciplining those impulses leads to effective government, but “repatrimonialization”—the capture of government by private interests—threatens whenever vigilance is relaxed. Fukuyama’s new volume, which describes political order since the French Revolution, extends his thinking on repatrimonialization, from the undermining of meritocratic bureaucracy in Han China through the sale of offices under France’s Henri IV to the looting of foreign aid in post-colonial Zaire. Fukuyama is convinced that the United States is on a similar path of institutional decay.
Political philosophy asks which government is best for man. Political science asks which government is best for government. Political decline, Fukuyama insists, is not the same thing as civilizational collapse.
Fukuyama is not the first to remark that wars can spur government efficiency—even if front-line soldiers are the last to benefit from it.
Relative to the smooth-running systems of northwestern Europe, American bureaucracy has been a dud, riddled with corruption from the start and resistant to reform. Patronage—favors for individual cronies and supporters—has thrived.
Clientelism is an ambiguous phenomenon: it is bread and circuses, it is race politics, it is doing favors for special classes of people. Clientelism is both more democratic and more systemically corrupting than the occasional nepotistic appointment.
why modern mass liberal democracy has developed on clientelistic lines in the U.S. and meritocratic ones in Europe. In Europe, democracy, when it came, had to adapt itself to longstanding pre-democratic institutions, and to governing elites that insisted on established codes and habits. Where strong states precede democracy (as in Germany), bureaucracies are efficient and uncorrupt. Where democracy precedes strong states (as in the United States but also Greece and Italy), government can be viewed by the public as a piñata.
Fukuyama contrasts the painstaking Japanese development of Taiwan a century ago with the mess that the U.S. Congress, “eager to impose American models of government on a society they only dimly understood,” was then making of the Philippines. It is not surprising that Fukuyama was one of the most eloquent conservative critics of the U.S. invasion of Iraq from the very beginning.
What distinguishes once-colonized Vietnam and China and uncolonized Japan and Korea from these Third World basket cases is that the East Asian lands “all possess competent, high-capacity states,” in contrast to sub-Saharan Africa, which “did not possess strong state-level institutions.”
Fukuyama does not think ethnic homogeneity is a prerequisite for successful politics
the United States “suffers from the problem of political decay in a more acute form than other democratic political systems.” It has kept the peace in a stagnant economy only by dragooning women into the workplace and showering the working and middle classes with credit.
public-sector unions have colluded with the Democratic Party to make government employment more rewarding for those who do it and less responsive to the public at large. In this sense, government is too big. But he also believes that cutting taxes on the rich in hopes of spurring economic growth has been a fool’s errand, and that the beneficiaries of deregulation, financial and otherwise, have grown to the point where they have escaped bureaucratic control altogether. In this sense, government is not big enough.
Washington, as Fukuyama sees it, is a patchwork of impotence and omnipotence—effective where it insists on its prerogatives, ineffective where it has been bought out. The unpredictable results of democratic oversight have led Americans to seek guidance in exactly the wrong place: the courts, which have both exceeded and misinterpreted their constitutional responsibilities. the almost daily insistence of courts that they are liberating people by removing discretion from them gives American society a Soviet cast.
“Effective modern states,” he writes, “are built around technical expertise, competence, and autonomy.”
Williams, J. (2017, May). The Dumb Politics of Elite Condescension. NYT
the sociologists Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb call the “hidden injuries of class.” These are dramatized by a recent employment study, in which the sociologists Lauren A. Rivera and Andras Tilcsik sent 316 law firms résumés with identical and impressive work and academic credentials, but different cues about social class. The study found that men who listed hobbies like sailing and listening to classical music had a callback rate 12 times higher than those of men who signaled working-class origins, by mentioning country music, for example.
Politically, the biggest “hidden injury” is the hollowing out of the middle class in advanced industrialized countries. For two generations after World War II, working-class whites in the United States enjoyed a middle-class standard of living, only to lose it in recent decades.
The college-for-all experiment did not work. Two-thirds of Americans are not college graduates. We need to continue to make college more accessible, but we also need to improve the economic prospects of Americans without college degrees.
the United States has a well-documented dearth of workers qualified for middle-skill jobs that pay $40,000 or more a year and require some postsecondary education but not a college degree. A 2014 report by Accenture, Burning Glass Technologies and Harvard Business School found that a lack of adequate middle-skills talent affects the productivity of “47 percent of manufacturing companies, 35 percent of health care and social assistance companies, and 21 percent of retail companies.”
Skillful, a partnership among the Markle Foundation, LinkedIn and Colorado, is one initiative pointing the way. Skillful helps provide marketable skills for job seekers without college degrees and connects them with employers in need of middle-skilled workers in information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care. For more information, see my other IMS blog entries, such as: http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2017/01/11/credly-badges-on-canvas/
Middle Class Fortunes in Western Europe
From 1991 to 2010, the middle class expands in France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but, as in the United States, shrinks in Germany, Italy and Spain
The role of the middle class in developed economies
The size and the well-being of the middle class are intertwined with some of the key economic challenges facing the developed world this century – income inequality is rising in many countries, economic growth is anemic, and economic mobility is lesser than in the past.
A smaller middle class or a relatively less well-off middle class often reflects a more unequal income distribution. In turn, increases in income inequality present an adverse climate for economic growth. A relative decline in the incomes of lower- and middle-income families may create a drag on overall consumption in the economy, lead to excessive borrowing by these families, or provide disincentives to invest in education.
A more vibrant middle class may also improve the economic outlook for future generations. In the U.S., for example, communities with larger middle classes offer a greater likelihood that children will experience upward mobility relative to their parents’ status in the income distribution. A similar relationship has also been found to exist across countries, whereby intergenerational mobility is greater in countries with less income inequality.
Many countries in Western Europe have significantly larger middle classes than the U.S.
The U.S. has larger lower- and upper-income tiers than the selected countries from Western Europe
Income inequality is related to the size of the middle class in a country
Tenure Track Position in Gamification Tampere University of Technology
Tampere University of Technology (TUT) is an active scientific community of 2,000 employees and more than 10,000 students. The University operates in the form of a foundation and has a long-standing tradition of collaboration with other research institutions and business life. Many of the fields of research and study represented at the University play a key role in addressing global challenges. Internationality is an inherent part of all the University’s activities. Welcome to join us at TUT!
The University of Turku is a world-class multidisciplinary research university which offers interesting challenges and a unique vantage point to national and international research and education.
Tenure track (Gamification)
The tenure track position is shared between Tampere University of Technology and the University of Turku. It supports the co-operation in teaching and research in the area of gamification between the two universities.
The professorship is especially associated with the TUT Game Lab (Pori Department, TUT) and the Digital Culture research group of the Cultural Production and Landscape Studies degree programme (School of History, Culture and Arts Studies, UTU). These research groups currently have five on-going research projects related to games and playing.
The TUT Game Lab brings together learning scientists, developers and humanists to conduct research and develop new ways of utilizing games in learning. The aim is to develop and study high-impact digital games that address real world challenges.
The main research objectives of TUT Game Lab are:
– Developing scientifically justified games to demonstrate and conduct research
– Studying the impact of educational games
– Exploring ways to combine learning and assessment in games
– Studying and modelling the playing experience
The Digital Culture research group (UTU) has three research focuses:
– cultural appropriation of technologies
– social media
– game cultures.
The Digital Culture research group specializes in the study of the cultural history of digital games and the uses of digital game histories in contemporary culture (so-called “history culture”). Furthermore, the research group has participated in various digital game exhibition projects as well as practical game design and gamification projects combining digital and non-digital elements. Digital Culture is a part of the Cultural Production and Landscape Studies degree programme which also incorporates two other major subjects: Cultural Heritage Studies and Landscape Studies.
We invite applications for one (1) tenure track position in the area of Gamification.
The area of gamification covers:
– research of games and gamification
– games and playing as a cultural phenomenon
– game mechanisms, edugames and pervasive playing
– utilization of games in business, e.g. in new products and services
The emphasis of the position can be tailored according to the specific expertise of the candidate. Suitable educational and research backgrounds for the position include e.g. media studies, cultural studies, information technology and business and management.
The successful candidate is expected to:
– pursue and supervise scientific research in the field
– lead, conduct and develop education in the field
– participate in the activities of the national and international scientific communities
– acquire external funding
– interact with society
– commit to the strategies of TUT and UTU.
The successful candidate will participate in teaching both in the master’s degree programme in Management and Information Technology (TUT) as well as the subject of Digital Culture (UTU) by integrating the gamification theme into the existing course selection, in particular. Supervising theses and conducting doctoral seminars are also essential areas of responsibility.
The position will be filled at the level of Associate Professor.
The successful candidate will be employed by TUT. For more information on TUT’s tenure track career system, please refer to tut.fi/openpositions – Tenure track.
All candidates considered for a tenure track position are expected to:
– hold an applicable doctoral degree
– demonstrate a record of achievement in research that meets high international standards in the field of gamification
– demonstrate the capacity for independent scholarly activity
– possess the teaching skills required for the successful performance of their duties and
– have the ability to co-operate in a multidisciplinary university environment and with industry.
We appreciate experience and a track record in acquiring research funding, along with collaboration and leadership positions in research networks and industry.
For more information on the criteria for each level of TUT’s tenure track, please refer to tut.fi/openpositions – Tenure track.
Both TUT and UTU have ambitious and challenging goals in effective, high-quality research, education and social influence. We offer an active research community with a good team spirit, intense cooperation with industry and business, public organizations and students, and opportunities for growth and advancement in academia. Our international cooperation is active and recognized, both in research and education.
We offer the successful candidate an opportunity to contribute to the creation of a new research area that combines gamification with areas such as cultural studies, information technology and business.
TUT offers a wide range of staff benefits, such as occupational health care. Since 2014, TUT has held the European Commission HR Excellence in Research recognition.
For more information, please visit tut.fi/en – About TUT – Careers at TUT
The salary will be based on both the job demands and the employee’s personal performance in accordance with the Finnish University Salary System (YPJ).
The advertised position is typically placed on the job demand level 7 (Associate Professor). In addition, the employees receive performance-based salary and they are covered by TUT’s bonus system.
The appointment is subject to the satisfactory completion of a trial period of four months.
The position will be filled for a fixed-term period of four years. The appointment is expected to begin on 1 December 2016 or as mutually agreed.
The duties are mainly located on the Pori campus in close co-operation with the main campuses in Tampere and Turku.
For the candidates with the most potential for the position, the selection process will involve an external assessment, individual interviews, aptitude assessments and a trial lecture.
For more information, please contact:
Director of University Consortium of Pori, Professor Jari Multisilta, e-mail: email@example.com, tel. +358 40 826 2910. Best availability for enquiries: 7 July–15 July and 1 August- 10 August.
In questions concerning the recruitment process, please contact HR Specialist
Eveliina Nurmi, e-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 3015253. Best availability for enquiries: 15 June – 8 July and 8 August-10 August.
How to apply:
Applications must be submitted through TUT’s online employment system. The closing date for applications is 10 August 2016 (10:00 pm UTC). All applications and supporting documents must be submitted in English.
The applications must include the following documents prepared according to TUT’s instructions:
1. Curriculum Vitae (.doc or .pdf)
2. Research plan
3. List of publications
4. Teaching portfolio
Additional information on TUT’s tenure track system and attachments to applications.