More disqualifying, however, is her long, well-established record of trying to dismantle the public education system she is now charged with overseeing. Being a teacher in Finland, Walker says, has “challenged my thinking about good teaching and learning,” and, as it turns out, a lot of what works in a classroom in Helsinki can work in anywhere in the United States. Already deluged with emails and phone calls, senate offices from both parties were hit again over the weekend. “Your calls and outreach have been amazing,” Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut told the rally on Monday evening. “You’ve really freaked out a lot of my GOP colleagues.” In the end, however, that last ‘no’ vote proved elusive. On these occasions, children can choose the engaging activities they want to pursue in the classroom, such as playing a fun math puzzler on their own or reading an interesting book at their independent reading level. As such, international laws (the Hague and Geneva Conventions) require that governance and legal matters within the occupied territory of the Hawaiian Islands must be administered by the application of the laws of the occupied state (in this case, the Hawaiian Kingdom), not the domestic laws of the occupier (the United States).” A state of peace between the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States was transformed to a state of war when United States troops invaded the Hawaiian Kingdom on January 16, 1893, and illegally overthrew the Hawaiian government the following day.
She’s never worked in a public school. There’s a wealth of educational expertise and ideas in America, and US public school teachers need better working conditions to implement valuable changes. Like many other U.S. educators, Tim Walker* thought the schools in Finland sounded almost “mythical.” The rejection of high-stakes testing, a curriculum based on critical thinking and problem-solving, smaller classes, the time reserved for collaboration between teachers – these are just few of the pillars of a system that has been heralded around the world. Also, I had a hunch that the world’s “best” schools could be found in the United States—institutions where children could encounter well-balanced curricula while learning in a student-centered manner with little stress. I suspected that America had its share of “bad” schools, but I largely blamed the nation’s social inequality for their failings, not the educators. I began noticing subtle, sensible things that my Finnish colleagues were doing in their work. Despite the disappointing outcome, the mobilization against DeVos shook Capitol Hill and the White House. “In my years as a public education advocate, I have never witnessed this level of public outcry,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “The nomination has touched a raw nerve not only with public education advocates like me but with the general public as well.” The level of engagement – which ran deep and across party lines – was nothing short of astounding. “Our students, my passion, our schools are not for sale,” Maryland educator Henoch Hailu told the anti-DeVos rally on February 6. He began documenting his experiences on his blog, Taught by Finland, and in a series of articles for The Atlantic.
While I agree that transplanting the entire homework market Finnish model is unsuitable for America, I think it’s misguided to think we need to have all or nothing. They got a major assist by DeVos’ widely panned appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on January 17. Students in Finland can expect a 15-minute break for every 45 minutes of classroom instruction, and research shows that these kinds of breaks help students stay focused during class. The discussion about the differences between Finland and the the U.S. is usually centered around major systemic differences, so what’s unique and innovative about Finnish schools seems out-of-reach to most U.S. educators. Educators, parents and allies sent more than 1 million letters via NEA’s activism site and made 80,000 phone calls in 4 weeks, urging senators to vote no. Capitol on Monday evening to urge “just one more” senator to stand up and cast the deciding ‘no’ vote on Betsy DeVos as U.S.
I encountered a different school system. For several years, I’ve kept a blog about Finnish education where I’ve highlighted lessons I’ve learned in Finland, but I admit that I’ve rarely blogged about what American teachers could actually implement in their classrooms. Only one more GOP vote was needed. In 2013, Walker moved to Finland and was soon teaching fifth grade at a public school in Helsinki. American public school teachers often put up with so much – the long school days, test-based accountability, and so forth – and, yet, many remain committed to the profession in spite of the difficult working conditions. Coming on the eve of the confirmation vote, the rally was the final exclamation point of a nationwide mobilization against a nominee whom educators consider dangerously unqualified to lead our public schools.
But educators and parents’ full-court press was only just getting started. In “Teach Like Finland,” I pushed myself to move beyond simply describing great practices in Finnish schools — I focused on suggesting strategies that can be easily wielded by U.S. teachers. They enjoy short school days and several short breaks throughout the day; Finnish kids and educators seem much more fresh each day and the flexible schedule allowed for more collaboration among colleagues. See Also: Teacher Autonomy Declined Over Past Decade, New Data Shows Linda Darling-Hammond: Time for the U.S. to Learn the Right Lessons from High-Performing Nations U.S. In short, they challenged my thinking about good teaching and learning. Today I’m convinced, after teaching and living in Finland, that the glaring weakness in American education is, in fact, a basic matter of inaccessibility: too many kids in America lack access to decent schools. The 1907 Hague Convention, IV, and the 1949 Geneva Convention, IV, mentioned by the UN official regulate the occupying State during a state of war.
Education Secretary. In his just-released book, Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms, Walker offers U.S. educators a lively and practical guide on implementing Finland’s best practices in their own classroom. Then again, no recent nominee seemed so utterly unfit for the post as Betsy DeVos. While the spiraling concerns over DeVos weren’t enough to deliver the 51st vote necessary to ultimately defeat the nomination, there’s little doubt that DeVos emerges from the confirmation battle a weakened figure. I’ve found that many U.S. educators employ a social-emotional learning plan in their classrooms, and they rave about its importance.
DeVos is the first secretary of education with zero experience with public schools. What did you think about the strengths and weaknesses of American schools before you encountered the Finnish system? TW: Before moving to Finland, I confess that I did very little thinking about how U.S. schools might compare to other schools around the world. Finland’s newest core curriculum requires that teachers move away from subject-based, teacher-centered instruction toward interdisciplinary, student-centered teaching. The billionaire DeVos family, a top donor to the Michigan Republican Party, has led the charge for privatization by bankrolling multiple efforts to bring voucher schemes and unregulated charter schools to their state. It’s frustrating that the Finnish “borrow” these ideas and showcase them to the world.
She’s never been a teacher or a school administrator, nor served on any public board of education. Finnish educators, undoubtedly, would benefit from visiting American schools where project-based learning, an innovative interdisciplinary model, has been successfully implemented for years. Public Schools Could Benefit From Less Test-Taking and More Equitable Funding, Says Finnish Educator In “Teach Like Finland,” I propose the idea of offering “choice time,” in which students have about 10 minutes to disconnect from the usual focused schoolwork several times each day. What are the lessons that Finnish teachers can learn from American teachers? TW: Although Finland boasts a glowing reputation as an education superpower, it’s the United States, surprisingly, where many of the world’s most innovative pedagogies are conceived and developed.
If you had to pick one or two Finnish practices that American teachers would benefit most from adopting in their own classrooms, what would they be? TW: I’d love to see American teachers adopt the practice of offering several short brain-breaks throughout the school day. The effort to defeat DeVos went into overdrive last week when GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, due to the overwhelming response from educators, parents and community members in their states, announced they would be breaking ranks with their party and voting against DeVos. Taking a 15-minute break for every 45 minutes of classroom instruction like the Finnish do seems unimaginable to most American teachers. In my book, I’m focused on the little, practical things we can learn from Finland’s approach to education, in spite of the major differences. Okay, it’s not free play, exactly, but choice time would provide students with several moments to get refreshed before the next lesson begins. With all 48 Democrats already united against her, DeVos was suddenly hanging by a thread.
We stand up and applaud – when many of them came from our own backyard. That said, when it comes to shaping national education reforms and school policies, Finland’s teachers have a seat at the table. *Editor’s Note: Just a coincidence – Tim Walker, author of “Teach Like Finland,” and Tim Walker of NEA are two different people. Still, few observers in Washington saw any major potholes on her road to confirmation. When you live abroad, you encounter another culture. TW: Many U.S. teachers would, undoubtedly, experience pushback from parents and administrators if they implemented a Finnish-style schedule, but I think it’s still possible to bring this research-backed strategy into the classroom while keeping things academic. It was DeVos’ long record of anti-public education activism that triggered swift and immediate opposition as soon as then President-elect Donald Trump announced her nomination on Nov. 23.
I’d like to see U.S. lawmakers and administrators take the issue of teacher time more seriously. Only by way of a treaty of peace can the state of affairs be transformed back to a state of peace. Your thinking is stretched and, naturally, you start reflecting on your own culture of origin. He wrote: “As a professor of international law, the former Secretary of the UN Human Rights Committee, co-author of book, The United Nations Human Rights Committee Case Law 1977-2008, and currently serving as the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, I have come to understand that the lawful political status of the Hawaiian Islands is that of a sovereign nation-state that is under a strange form of occupation by the United States resulting from an illegal military occupation and a fraudulent annexation. The right to annex by treaty was not denied, but it was denied that this might be done by a simple legislative act. …Only by means of treaties, it was asserted, can the relations between States be governed, for a legislative act is necessarily without extraterritorial force—confined in its operation to the territory of the State by whose legislature enacted it (Id., p. 252).” In 1910, Willoughby wrote, “The incorporation of one sovereign State, such as was Hawaii prior to annexation, in the territory of another, is…essentially a matter falling within the domain of international relations, and, therefore, beyond the reach of legislative acts (Willoughby, The Constitutional Law of the United States, vol. 1, p. 345).” United Nations Acknowledges the Occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom In a communication to the State of Hawai‘i dated February 25, 2018 from Dr. Unlike Finland’s teachers, they also lack frequent breaks throughout the day.
Alfred M. deZayas, a United Nations Independent Expert, the UN official acknowledged the prolonged occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Here, teachers and students have a much lighter schedule compared to what I’m used to seeing in the United States. Teaching is definitely a respected profession in Finland, although I think that the status of teachers is sometimes exaggerated by outsiders. Something similar happened when I started teaching in Helsinki. In America, educators report the highest amount of classroom instruction per week, on average, compared to their international counterparts. None of her children attended public school.
Pasi Sahlberg, the Helsinki-based scholar and the author of Finnish Lessons, identifies a number of these “borrowed” ideas in his book. What does that say to you about the obstacles in the U.S. to implementing effective change in our schools? Tim Walker, author of “Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms” (Photo: David Popa) TW: Honestly, my respect for U.S. educators has only grown through teaching in Finland. I’m convinced that the “system” is, ultimately, holding them back. Hundreds of educators, parents, civil rights activists, and U.S. senators assembled across from the U.S. Walker: Yes, that is exactly what I’ve tried to do in my book!
Most U.S. teachers encounter a much different teaching context than Finland’s educators. Did you want your book to serve as a sort of a bridge that teachers can use to bring at least a little bit of Finland into their classrooms? Timothy D. Opposition swelled nationally, and senators reported that the three days ending last week resulted in the most calls into the Capitol switchboard in history. “Americans across the nation drove a bipartisan repudiation of the Trump-DeVos agenda for students and public education,” remarked Eskelsen García after the vote on Tuesday. “This marks only the beginning of the resistance.” From Shoo-In to Deadlock Nominees for cabinet positions, let alone for Education Secretary, rarely generate this intense level of opposition. What are the lessons that lawmakers and administrators in this country can take from Finland? TW: Through teaching in Finland, I’ve understood that teacher time is an incredibly important issue.
While many Finnish schools use an effective anti-bullying program called KiVa, I’d also like to see Finnish teachers emphasize social-emotional learning more systematically through implementing daily routines such as welcoming students with a handwritten note when they enter the classroom and offering a morning circle that builds a sense of community. DeVos was confirmed on Tuesday when Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a vote to break the 50-50 deadlock – the first time in the nation’s history this action was necessary to approve a cabinet nominee.