TED Conversations

Jason Wolfe

Speaker Curator / Teacher, TEDxTokyo

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In education, Finland is usually at the top & the USA near the bottom, but what is the middle or upper middle doing?

Like many other situations we like to focus on the extremes, and although learning from the best is not a bad idea, I would like to learn a little from the pretty darn good.

What are all those countries located in the upper middle area doing to get themselves where they are? Something tells me they aren't just avoiding wat the USA is doing and emulating Finland.

If you can, please share some of your stories and knowledge on what is working for you that other teachers and educators could mull over.


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    Apr 26 2013: Hi Jason,

    Really interesting, I'd like to hear more, but I have to say that I am a bit skeptical, or at least unsure. The risks of totally decentralising the system can be, among others, a decline in quality. If most parts of the curriculum and ground rules are kept though I also see the benefits - there's always a difference between communities and integrating social or just local issues into policies can have a positive result, as long as it doesn't include superstition and exclude reason. Hiring and firing may be a bit prejudiced though. But I don't know much about New Zealand so I shouldn't jump to any conclusions...
    I didn't include the parents' role in my first reply to your question as I took it for granted that the parents must be informed, have possibility to give feedback and participate in their childrens' education and future.

    One final thought or request - could you define education utopia? Or dystopia, they would be on opposite poles.
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      May 14 2013: Hi Anna

      Sorry for the late reply. I have had a busy few weeks.

      I may have been a little excited about the system in NZ, and a tad sarcastic, when I labeled their system as utopia. Utopia is perhaps not the right word at all as it is perfection and if there is anything I have learned from jumping into a career in education is that it is very much a 'now' thing and always changing (not to mention looking down on what was considered the right thing in previous generations).

      Maybe not utopia, but a great system for me is getting the parents involved with the education system, from hiring and firing to partial curriculum development is great. As a parent and a teacher this sounds both wonderful and terrible, but I think with the right system it could be great. That's why I am curious about NZ's system...Also, in my perfect system, there is a focus on environmental education, limited standardized testing (none if possible), a lot of group work. Finally, I think tying education to things outside of education is important...keeping it real and grounded in what is happening outside of school.

      Obviously, I could elaborate a lot, but I think that gives a decent overview of what my thoughts are.

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