Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I found myself questioning though, what it would be like to be a more advanced student in that kind of eduation system. It seems to me that this would cause a great deal of "slacking" on the part of the brightest children. The system seems to lack the push that is somewhat essential for bright minds to thrive and grow.
I thought it was particularly interesting that Swedish students are some of the most rowdy students in the world. It is interesting that the teachers there, especially in early education, have the patience to teach with that kind of dynamic. As I consider my own school experience, I wonder what I would have turned out like had I been able to freely go about questioning my teacher's thought process. I think I would probably be a very different person and perhaps would not have developed the drive to be able to go to school at U of M.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
I was especially interested in how students were essentially guaranteed the same high level of education regardless of their socioeconomic status. There are plenty of people who would not agree with me, but I would support higher taxes to better our school systems here in the States -- the quality of our education here relies much too heavily on which school district you happen to go to. The Swedish/Finnish people have come to appreciate that the money they put into their schools (even if it does not directly benefit their own children) is moving their country forward by creating a more educated general public.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
American preschools are expensive with strict hours and, often, Americans view strict lesson plans as an indicator of productivity and future success. This is even more pronounced in a country like Korea where even young students are sent to cram schools every evening. No level of Korean schooling is free, either; families are responsible for paying for all levels of education.
More so, the Swedish early education system seems very flexible and catering to the needs of the parents. Swedish preschool hours give both parents the opportunity to work and, like Prof. Eriksson mentioned in class, a Swedish stay-at-home parent is very unusual. Perhaps the fact that many more American mothers (and significantly more Korean mothers) are staying at home is a factor preserving the current US preschool system. Just think, there is less demand in America for early education systems to cater to families as there is often a parent who is available to take care of the child as needed.
Near the end of the episode, the video asked an interesting question:
"Can we afford to invest as much as the Swedes do in personal education?"
Of course, everyone wants to invest in education because, as cliche as it is, children really are the future. However, I question whether large nations such as the USA would take to higher taxes and school reform it would take to model the Swedish system. There would also be the mental and cultural change that many families and students would have to adapt to (whether it is superior or not). Talking of change is easier said than done.
Tarja explained that teachers don't test their students. Instead, they evaluate the students themselves and grade them accordingly. That seems like a much better way of teaching, because a lot of students aren't good at test-taking and it it is more fair to grade students based on what they have done in the class as opposed to how well they can do on a test.
Another cool part Scandinavian education systems is their teaching of foreign languages. Soon after children start school, they are taught one foreign language, usually English. Then when they reach middle school, they learn another foreign language. As Tarja said, starting students with foreign language when they are young makes it easier for them to learn more languages throughout their lives.
After learning about the Scandinavian schools, it makes more sense that they are leaders in educaton.
Friday, September 23, 2011
The lower emphasis on tests seems really effective, and like I said in class, if children love learning, it's easy to teach them. I think fewer tests contibute to that.
Outdoor pre-schools are a fantastic idea; I've read a few studies and have personal experience about what it's like to grow up in the woods, play outside often, etc. and it really is a great place to learn and develop skills. In the U.S, there are many strange rules and customs (behaviors, things we take for granted), like all the prescription medication children are taking, and how rain keeps us indoors. In that regard, the Finns holistic approach to pre-K education is really refreshing.
As for free higher-education, if the majority of the people in Scandinavia don't mind the taxes, I see no problem with it. It also makes for a more selective application process within the Universities.
Good lecture ^-^ Very interesting overall.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I found Sarah's lecture and slide show on nature and Carl Linnaeus very interesting. He was a great ecologist, botanist and was very well respected, enough to be a face on their money. He got to travel all over Sweden and Finland and even some parts of Norway and write many books on his studies.
I really admire Scandinavia’s relationship with nature. Starting at a young age, the kids are forced to create a bond with nature and live outside for portions of the day. When I visited Sweden, I loved how we always had meals outside, went on hikes all over Öland, and basically did as much as we could outside. Also, whenever possible we would walk or bike to our destinations, not drive unnecessarily large vehicles. I had a type of culture shock when I returned home and saw the huge TV with too many channels and several computers in my house. Everything in Scandinavia seemed so much more natural, more desirable and I really enjoyed it and miss it.
I really enjoyed the Tarja’s lecture on education in Scandinavia. It was really interesting to see the differences between Sweden and Finland and the United States. One of the things I found really interesting was that they don’t even start school till they are six or seven years old. There isn’t that pressure to learn and read as soon as possible, which is how it is in the U.S. in most cases. And even though they have a ‘late’ start, they catch up and actually according to some international tests surpass Americans. Also, the fact that their college tuition is free amazes me. I feel like that is how it should be here. Everyone should have the same opportunity to go to a great school, whether or not you can afford to go to college shouldn’t be a problem. Another thing that the U.S. really needs to learn from Scandinavia is the benefit of being outdoors, and being active. I love how kids are basically kicked outside to play, no matter the weather. I really liked the encouragement of maternity leave and even paternity leave in Scandinavia. That is how it should be here as well, because I know of many people who feel like they have to plan out when it is most convenient in their job to have a baby and are fearful that when they go on leave they won’t have a job to go back to.
I went to a small private school outside of Chicago, and they do some things very similar to how they do it Scandinavia. Even though I started school at the age of 3, we had lots of naps and play-time. We also started studying a foreign language at 3 years of age. We were also forced to take Latin and art classes throughout elementary and middle school.
I feel like overall, the U.S. has a lot to learn from the education systems in Scandinavia. And I agree with Alex, college should be free!
When we compared and discussed the Finnish and Swedish school system versus education in the United States, I realized I would have preferred to have gone to school in Finland or Sweden! The emphasis on learning for the sake of learning and fostering a natural sense of curiosity was definitely not a big part of my education as a kid. There was constant grading and expectations right off the bat, and interaction with nature/the outdoors was minimal, and decreased significantly until it ended with a final P.E. class in the beginning of Freshman year (highschool). I think many students under this system might have felt the way I felt, extremely stressed about grades and "doing well" and probably not getting enough exercise at school or at home as there was only time for homework and studying. I can also say that I don't feel like I learned anything that stuck with me, it was always a process that included memorizing everything for an exam, and erasing that knowledge and repeat the process. The Finnish and Swedish students seem to have gained a more cumulative and well rounded knowledge of many aspects of life. I really enjoy the outdoors and wish it had been more incorporated into my education and I really admire the Scandinavian emphasis on learning about nature and getting the opportunity to explore it freely!
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
I also found it neat to compare Norse mythology to Greek mythology, as they are both very revealing of their respective cultures and opinions on social identities such as gender. I am curious what similarities or differences people found between Norse mythology and Greek mythology???
Saturday, September 17, 2011
I found Maria’s lecture on Norse Mythology very informative, especially since I previously knew very little about the subject. Just as Dylan and Ben mentioned, I was really surprised at how important women’s roles were. They were allowed to step up and be seen as strong, and when there were no men in the house one of the women had to step up and become the man of the house. Many people in the community relied on these women who would come by and tell them their future and treated them very well because they were the ones in contact with the gods. I also liked the fact that the king and queen ruled jointly.
Another part that I found very interesting was the respect they had for nature. I think that the Scandinavian people at the time had a great outlook on nature; they were humbled and driven by the fact that they couldn’t battle against nature and win.
The other little fact that I really liked was that the whole idea of myths is to compete with missionaries.
However, I did think that the idea of warriors dying in battle because they were the best fighters was a little counter-intuitive. Though I'm sure it was a comfort for the families of Viking warriors as well as a point of pride.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
My name is Nina Randorf, a second year Civil and Environmental Engineering major. I hope to concentrate on construction management within my degree and work on field sites overseas. I took a gap year after high school and met so many people and made many new close friends from all over eastern Europe. I registered for this class a bit late because of a mix up with my degree requirements but, considering my background, I am a extremely happy to be able to take this course. I've spent a lot of time with East Asian studies and engineering so I'm looking forward to a change of topics! This is my very first (and last?) U Michigan humanity course, so I guess this experience will be bittersweet.
See you all Monday,