Educational Change as a Grassroots Movement

Featuring Pasi Sahlberg.

Pasi Sahlberg is a Finnish educator and bestselling author. He has worked as a schoolteacher, teacher-educator, researcher, and policymaker in Finland and advised schools and education system leaders around the world. In 2013 his book “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland” won the Grawemeyer Award (USA) for an idea that has potential to change the world. He is currently Professor of Education Policy at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Join us as Pasi shares with us his unique perspective on the world of education and his hopes for students to jumpstart a global movement for an education system that best serves their needs.

(Music by lesfm from Pixabay)

Episode notes:

  • It is too early to discern what the lessons are from the pandemic.
  • We understand better how hard and profound inequalities are.
  • Greater appreciation of the work that teachers do.
  • Recognition of teaching as an essential and frontline profession

Creativity used to be abstract thinking but now that there are no textbooks, we wonder what would have happened if we had developed a more flexible system.

  • The world will not return to where it was, we will see many more of these disruptions
  • Educators who are prepared and resilient will survive better than the others.
  • Who will be paying for all this? What we spend today somebody has to pay tomorrow. When having to save money, education is first in the list.
  • Political calls for doing more but cheaper.
  • There is a need for a public call to increase spending on education.
  • Asking people in the school system not to return back to normal, but to rethink and reimagine schooling.
  • Change and transformation in education is slow and more than people would expect.
  • Seymour Sarason has influenced his thinking, and he spent his life thinking about change.

Unless we change the power relationship within the school and the school systems, nothing is going to change, it will happen that the more we try to change the more that things will remain as they are.

  • Particularly the role of students in the learning process. This has been under minded until very recently.
  • The Finnish system as a whole is trying to give students more agency. Make students feel that it is their system.
  • Rock and roll was not invented by the government, educational change should be a grassroots movement.
  • More students in the future, just as they are leading climate change movement, they will get involved in a global education change movement that will transform the system into one that makes sense for them.
  • The results of an education system like Finland is producing more graduates that are entrepreneur minded. Make jobs when there aren’t. Finland has become a leader when it comes to innovation. More holistic view on human ability.

Wellbeing is a skill, not something we do to children.

  • Every parent knows that unless their children are feeling well it doesn´t matter what grades they get.
  • Any social indicator that is used for high stakes purposes will eventually become corrupted and useless. This has happened to some extent with PISA.
  • PISA was a great idea, a low stakes holistic assessment, but it eventually became a high stakes competition and race. It became an illusion that this one metric could measure global education quality.
  • There should have been better guidance, OECD pulled some brakes as to how not to use.
  • Small data to complement big data, there is a role for even instinct, data from local educators.

Wish: We need to do less of defending our positions in education, step out of these camps and positions to find solutions.


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