Is the aim of schooling, only to produce ‘university ready’ students? Is school just a conveyor belt??
If we take this logic backwards, are primary schools’ simply to prepare students for secondary school? So they are either ‘ready’ or ‘not-ready’? The Finns believe this is putting the horse before the cart. Apparently the job of secondary school is to craft an education around their students … for schools to be ‘student ready’, as it were. What a happy shift from making students ‘school-ready’.
Of course, the Finnish model is based on a belief in, and support for, early-childhood education. And they do. Sahlberg says there’s a lot of trust in their early intervention and primary schooling.
What’s so infuriating, is that we have known this secret to success for many years. Public health has ample evidence that prevention in the early years, 0 to 5, is key. That policy has neglected this, is a mystery, despite, even, Sure Start’s ‘thousand flowers blooming’. Paul Tough, writing in ‘How Children Succeed’, highlights many advantages to early intervention – especially for our newest infants. That, in 2012, some suggest this is news, is deeply worrying. This was not news in the 1970s; the message then was clear… just look at the Child Health and Development Study of Christchurch, NZ, one of many longitudinal studies starting in the 70s…
Finally, current politicians talk of little else than early years education – this has to be very welcome. Let’s hope this is a genuine shift in policy thinking that keeps it’s eyes on the needs of children and not universities.
Perhaps universities themselves can help – why not scrap our outdated system of admission to the elite institutions? Moving to portfolio assessment, would certainly offer a holistic view of applicants and disbar those who know how to game the exams system.