– You’ll be sitting here for 3 hours and reading this book! At 6 p.m. I will check how you know the plot, characters and main idea. If you make more than two mistakes you will stay at home and won’t go for your friend’s birthday! – said a woman to her 11-year old son and closed the door.
The boy looked tired and upset. He opened a book in yellow cover with fear. “If Mom said it in such a strict tone, this means that the book is very boring and I would never want to read it”. He thumbed through several pages and stooped his head. He was sitting in such pose for 10 minutes and then he stood up. The boy looked out of a window and saw his friend who walked in the yard. He sighed sadly. But suddenly one idea came to the boy’s mind. He quietly opened the bedroom’s door and on tiptoe wriggled his way into entrance hall. Having opened the door, he ran away. “Anyway, I can’t read it. And I won’t go to the birthday party. So at the very least I will walk today”.
The book which is read by lots of children throughout the world with pleasure and great interest – “The adventure of Tom Sawyer” – was lying lonely on the table.
Is it really very difficult not to discourage children to study? Maybe we all born with such a feature: make others do everything, frightening them? Or maybe we exactly know that learning is so boring and complicated thing, which never helps in real life. But there is a rule to be educated, and everybody who are not, will be considered a dreg of society.
If it is not, why do not Kazakhstani children like going to school? Why are they afraid of being punished every day? Why do they love cancelling of lessons and say with sadness “school is tomorrow”? School in their perspective looks much like a prison. In this case, it is not surprising at all that we had so “high” results in, for instance, PISA tests (OECD, 2009).
However, most probably, teachers, principals and MoES were in shock. What are the reasons? Poor pedagogy, school climate or maybe our people too lazy to study? Of course, many research are needed to answer this question. However, I am sure that in order to apply any knowledge a person, first of all, needs to love gaining this knowledge. So trying to achieve a result, it is wrong to forget about a process. And we all should understand that such prisoner’s feelings as discontent, fear and anger can’t lead to the desire of learning.
Fortunately, there is another example in the world. In this country children feel more comfortable going to school, they have better results and most probably don’t suffer from big fear and stress as our students. I am talking about Finland. And now I want to share with you only several facts about secondary education in Finland and then everybody can deduce themselves.
- All schools are equal. This means that there are no elite and “weak” schools. All children are considered to be “special” and have the same educational opportunities.
- There is no predominance of one group of subjects above others. Arts are taught on the same basis as Math. So there is no division in important and unimportant lessons.
- In order to understand and assist a student with his/her future track, in Finland there is a special position – “the teacher of the future”. This specialist finds out child’s interests and potential in order to suggest for him/her an Individual Education Plan.
- Usually there is no homework! It’s time for walking in the park.
- There are no exams at school, except final one. A child doesn’t have special preparation for it and its results don’t change the opinion about him/her.
- If there is an educational film in the class, but a child doesn’t want to watch it, he/she can read a book with the same material. A pupil can decide what is better in his/her case.
- In sunny weather, lessons are held in the open-air on the benches.
- However, children aren’t allowed to cut school. In case of squandering study time they have to stay for these hours next day (Kireeva, 2015).
This teaching approach gives students understanding that learning is cornerstone of life, but it is their choice what and how to study. Even grades are not given till 4th form. Of course, Finnish students don’t feel iron chains of “you must pass the UNT, because if not you will fail all your life”. And they pass such tests; especially test of how to apply all this baggage of knowledge to real life. Why? Because learning is so interesting and they know it.
The boy came back home, ready to be punished. But Mother, sitting on a sofa and holding a book in the yellow cover, said to him:
– It is so pity that I have to wake up at 7 a.m. tomorrow. I need two more hours to read it till the end… Anyway, have a good night!
The boy was in shock.“If Mom even had forgotten to punish me, this book must be very interesting!”
He drank a cup of tea, took a shower and sat to read…
Kireeva, N. (2015)Seven principles of Finnish education. Retrieved from http://www.adme.ru/zhizn-nauka/7-principov-finskogo-obrazovaniya-838510.
OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) (2014). Secondary Education in Kazakhstan. Paris: OECD.