We’ve written before about the school system in Finland and how it differs dramatically from the one in this country.
What’s the difference? It really comes down to TRUST.
Because it is not easy to become an educator in that country and because the ones who do are so well-trained and prepared, by and large they are turned loose to do what they believe is best for their students, their schools and their communities. Educators are considered the real “experts” in Finland.
Compare this to our own situation in Alabama where it seems educators are the last people ever consulted when education policy and change is being contemplated. Go back to the Alabama Accountability Act passed by the legislature in 2013. NO ONE in education knew about this legislation until it was passed. In fact, Senator Del Marsh boasted afterwards that it was kept secret from educators because they might have been opposed.
Can you imagine the legislature dictating something to the medical community and later saying they made sure no doctors or hospital administrators knew what was going on?
Consequently, we appear to have an education system where trust is too often missing. And this does not mean only on the part of the legislative process, I think it also means on the part of the state department of education and how they feel about local school systems and visa versa. I’ve been privy to too many conversations where this distrust was on display.
Many years ago I was an editor for the Progressive Famer magazine. As such I was always looking for things to write about. This meant that I attended a lot of meetings at Auburn University and the University of Georgia. Lets’ say it was a session about growing peanuts. Some researchers would talk about techniques they were working on and an audience of farmers would pay attention. But invariably, there would be at least one farmer on the program who talked about how he grew peanuts and what practices worked for him.
Every farmer in the audience paid close attention. Why? Because this was someone who walked in their shoes and they trusted him wholeheartedly.
In my opinion, until we gain more trust from all sectors involved in education in this state, we will continue to struggle.