This is No Pisaster

So the news finally broke [PDF]. Finland is officially out of top 10 dropped in OECD’s latest Pisa ranking. Seems like we are #12, if I’m reading the table correctly. are #12 in mathematics, #6 in reading, and #5 in science.

So, what should we do to make our way back to the top? Panic? No, we should do nothing. We should just

Keep Calm and Carry On.

Of course I’m being provocative here. We should do plenty of things to ensure the best education for our children. It is just that we shouldn’t do it because of some dubious ranking system. A good position on a list like this is a by-product, not a goal to strive for.

Furthermore: as Tim Walker noted in his blog post a couple of days back, assessing even individuals with some standardized testing is difficult. So how on earth could we manage to pull it off for nations?

We should naturally do everything we can to prepare our children for the future. No, let me be more precise: we should support the children in building the future for themselves. And by ‘we’ I mean the whole ecosystem, consisting of teachers, students, parents, educational material providers, technology vendors, government officials, researchers, etc.

There are a number of things we should do, regardless of any rankings. I am thinking, in no prioritized order:

  • Embrace the media and technologies children use
  • Cater for individual learning needs of students
  • Ensure the motivation of students and teachers
  • Closely follow research and actively try out new ways of learning & teaching
  • Respect local cultures but utilize global findings and best practices
  • Co-create and enrich educational materials with children and teachers
  • Build bridges and feedback loops between education and corporate life
  • Provide a safe environment for learning to take place
  • Realize that coming up with all this takes resources

To finish with a cautionary example: here’s what we shouldn’t do, ever. Poor Korean kids! If anything like this is going to happen, I will—to quote a famous Finnish ski jumper—move to Copenhagen and apply for Swedish citizenship.

Update 4.12.2013, 3:30PM I found out that “pisaster” is an actual word, meaning some kind of a starfish type of creature. However, I hope you understood that I was trying to be funny combining Pisa and disaster.


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