Looking for a curriculum similar to Japan, Canada, or Finland - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 34 Old 11-15-2011, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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These 3 countries seem to be the top academic performers and I am wondering if anyone knows if there is a curriculum that follows their methods.  I found a website for Canada's curriculum, but it seemed to be for educators and I could not make much sense of it.

 

Anyone have advice?

 

Many thanks!

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#2 of 34 Old 11-15-2011, 09:20 PM
 
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This isn't what you were asking for, but you may find this info useful:

 

 


Here=s a video on delayed academics in Sweden:

http://www.teachers.tv/videos/sweden-early-years


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#3 of 34 Old 11-15-2011, 11:42 PM
 
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I'm a Canadian homeschooling mom. There is no "Canadian curriculum." Each province has a set of expectations of what children will learn at particular ages, but there's no pathway mapped out on how to get there. There are many different textbooks, curricula, approaches, styles of instruction, etc. etc. Our local public school uses project-oriented learning; the 10th grade history curriculum has thus far this year been built around explorations springing out of an extended local history field trip and interviews of the residents of the local nursing home. Almost nothing out of a textbook -- and almost nothing that any other school would be doing. 

 

The main differences you see in achievement in countries such as those you described are not related to the curriculum, IMO. Instead they're the result of differences in educational philosophy, and in the priorities and values of the national culture. There is a much smaller socio-economic gap between rich and poor in these nations: they all have strong social policy and social "equalizers." Hence there is much less difference between "good schools" and "bad schools" and in fact I'd venture to say that Canada's "worst schools" would be considered quite passable by American standards. By the same token our "good schools" have much less funding and much less in the way of tech tools, swimming pools, tracks, TV studios and the like. While this is not true of Japan at the upper elementary and secondary levels, it's generally the case in high performing nations that competition is not emphasized, either as a differentiating system between schools or between students. Understanding is valued more than high test scores and speeding through academic milestones, especially in the early years. In addition, individual teachers and schools tend to be empowered to work creatively with new ideas and passions. Local and individualized innovation within the public system is valued. This is the irony of standardized testing: to do well in the things that really count, you need to aim away from the target. Don't focus on test scores: teach understanding and trust that with understanding, over the long run achievement will be a given.

 

So I don't think it's as simple as buying a "pseudo-Finnish curriculum" or "a Canadian curriculum" and getting the same results. The factors contributing to these nations' overall success in educating their young people are much more complex than curriculum. 

 

But that's good news, really. It means that if you find you are philosophically on the same page as the Finns, if you can use your creativity to innovate based on what you see is needed in your home with your children, if you are not trying to rush through academic milestones and teach to the test, but instead are focusing on understanding and engagement of your child, you can create a Finnish educational system with any old curriculum. Though you'd probably find that easier if you choose components to your curriculum that are recommended as "promoting deep understanding" rather than "producing consistently high achievement test scores." 

 

Good luck!

 

Miranda

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#4 of 34 Old 11-16-2011, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks much to both of you for your replies.

 

Sunday Crepes, the first link from the BBC was interesting.  I think that what you are getting at is that play is more important than a curriculum.  I think play most definitely has an important place, but I am not an organized mama and I am not good at creating something out of nothing, hence my need for a curriculum.  I need to be guided.  I thrive on basic structure and will not be able to teach my children what they need to know without a plan and the means laid out to do it, if that makes sense.  I realize that here, where Unschooling is the norm, this may not be a popular view, but I know myself and I cannot set off on this homeschooling adventure without a curriculum in place.

 

The second link did not work and I had no luck finding the article/video you mention after an intial search.  Sounds interesting though!

 

MoominMama, provocative thoughts there.  Thank you for that.  Perhaps it is a bit simplistic to view test scores as the sole results of a curriculum.  It seems like a starting point though, if for no other reason than that it might help me determine the philosophical standpoint of the Finns or the Japanese by looking at their curriculum.

 

One thing that interests me about the Japanese educational philoshopy is the concept of mastery.  My dd is currently in 3rd grade at the PS and their method of spiraling through math, in particular, is making me insane.  I feel like she's getting bits and pieces but no mastery and no internalizing of knowledge.  I also dislike the exposure to so many different topics when I feel she would be better served by exploring a favorite topic in depth and to mastery.

 

As you can see, I am in the initial stages of articulating my own philosophy of education, but as I said above, I a mama who will need structure to make HS work.

 

If anyone can recommend a curriculum based on those further thoughts or if there are books/websites/chat groups I need to be involved in to further my research, that would be of immense help.

 

Thank you again,

MamaE

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#5 of 34 Old 11-16-2011, 08:56 AM
 
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Well, specifically on the math issue, there's one good curriculum I'd recommend that's from a high-performing nation and has been adapted to a homeschooling format. That's Singapore Math. It's worked very well with all my kids. HTH!

 

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#6 of 34 Old 11-16-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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I'd look into the different homeschooling approaches, if I were you.  Charlotte Mason and Classical sound like they might be of interest to you.  Perhaps Unit Studies.

 

One book you might want to read is:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Home-Schooling-Resource-Families/dp/0910707480/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321465874&sr=1-1

 

HTH

 

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#7 of 34 Old 11-16-2011, 02:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

Well, specifically on the math issue, there's one good curriculum I'd recommend that's from a high-performing nation and has been adapted to a homeschooling format. That's Singapore Math. It's worked very well with all my kids. HTH!

 

Miranda


It does not spiral, is mastery driven and does not cover as many topics as typical spiral curriculum (it goes deeper rather than wilder).  It sounds like a very good fit for you, OP.

 

If you like discussions on curriculum and structure, I suggest looking at the well trained mind website.    http://www.welltrainedmind.com/

 

 

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#8 of 34 Old 11-16-2011, 08:44 PM
 
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 I think play most definitely has an important place, but I am not an organized mama and I am not good at creating something out of nothing, hence my need for a curriculum.  I need to be guided.  I thrive on basic structure and will not be able to teach my children what they need to know without a plan and the means laid out to do it, if that makes sense.  I realize that here, where Unschooling is the norm, this may not be a popular view, but I know myself and I cannot set off on this homeschooling adventure without a curriculum in place.


You've sort of described me. I just can't do a planned curriculum on my own. Which is part of why we DO unschool. I figure the kids will guide themselves to what they need to know as long as we provide a variety of opportunities. HOWEVER, I still get nervous about that. Plus I think there are societal expectations that I don't want to naively ignore. So I use lots of resources and let my kids pick and choose what they want. Right now they are little so they have www.starfall.com, www.time4learning.com, and www.thehappyscientist.com. Plus I pick and choose from the books at www.sonlight.com. Also, I have the Living is learning guides. http://www.fun-books.com/books/living_is_learning_guides.htm  Here is the description of the guides from their page:

 

 

These guides are put together by Nancy Plent, founder of the Unschoolers Network in New Jersey and a long-time homeschooler. She reviewed the scope and sequence charts and curriculum guides of dozens of schools in various states, then combined the highest standards of elements from each to create these guides. Why purchase these curriculum guides? 1) They may help you to fulfill your state's legal requirement to provide an educational plan 2) They allow you to see some of the highest standards for schools at various grade levels, just in case you are curious about what the schools expect or are anxious about what you are doing 3) They provide record-keeping space that can help organize a portfolio.

Besides providing a checklist under each subject, Nancy offers suggestions on how to translate real-life experience into curricula goals. She also lists resources from a variety of companies. Each guide covers two or more grade levels. The first four are in comb binding, while the high school guide is in a 3-ring binder.

 


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#9 of 34 Old 11-16-2011, 08:53 PM
 
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The second link did not work and I had no luck finding the article/video you mention after an intial search.  Sounds interesting though!

Here's the video:

Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecinNaR32Qs

 

Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=cmdHvkcMhZ4

 

Part 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=eo1AJWqCIww

 


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#10 of 34 Old 11-17-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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There's a great YouTube video that illustrates why Finland is academically outperforming every country besides Japan- and even then, Japan is only scoring higher in math.

The clip interviews instructors in Fnalnd schools, who are highly respected in their community. Each classroom comes equipped with 2 assistants to help students who need more help and those who are ready to move on. The classroom style was relaxed and mentor-ship in style, as opposed to the lecture-style we're accustomed to in the US. Children were in socked feet and gathered around together working on projects. Kids typically do not begin formal instruction until age 7. Mid-day the children cross country ski together for an hour. I don't believe the children were sent home with homework.

I agree with the pp that the academic success Finalnd enjoys has less to do with a curriculum and more to do with the value placed on childhood and exploration, movement, play, and respect.

It was an awesome video and made a huge impression on me.

As for a program to use in your homeschool, we love Enki. It offers the creativity and developmental nourishment by offering quality literature studies that meet the child's developmental stage, while also incorporating the mastery approach found in Montessori education. It also includes seasonal movement and songs, as well as recorder instruction and cultural studies.

I found it to perfectly compliment our desire for quality literature, childhood celebration and respect, and movement. My kids love the games, and I would not have been able to come up with them on my own either.

HTH!
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There's a great YouTube video that illustrates why Finland is academically outperforming every country besides Japan- and even then, Japan is only scoring higher in math.
The clip interviews instructors in Fnalnd schools, who are highly respected in their community. Each classroom comes equipped with 2 assistants to help students who need more help and those who are ready to move on. The classroom style was relaxed and mentor-ship in style, as opposed to the lecture-style we're accustomed to in the US. Children were in socked feet and gathered around together working on projects. Kids typically do not begin formal instruction until age 7. Mid-day the children cross country ski together for an hour. I don't believe the children were sent home with homework.
I agree with the pp that the academic success Finalnd enjoys has less to do with a curriculum and more to do with the value placed on childhood and exploration, movement, play, and respect.
It was an awesome video and made a huge impression on me.

 

Do you have a link to that youtube movie?

 


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#12 of 34 Old 11-17-2011, 08:15 PM
 
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I have just started reading a great book called, Boys Adrift.  And I just read today that the stark difference in Finland's education is that they don't begin formal education until a child is 7 years old.  This is especially helpful for boys because of the accelerated academics that are being done beginning in K here in the US.  If a boy (or girl) is not academically ready to read and write at age 5, he can quickly be labeled or even just get a sense for himself that he is not good enough and then develop a hatred for school that lasts his entire career.  This information alone is causing me to seriously reconsider some of our current homeschool methods. 


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#13 of 34 Old 11-18-2011, 01:31 PM
 
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I have just started reading a great book called, Boys Adrift.  And I just read today that the stark difference in Finland's education is that they don't begin formal education until a child is 7 years old. 


That's the way I grew up and I always found "school" at 5 years old to be very odd. 

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Do you have a link to that youtube movie?

 



 

Yes, I found it! Enjoy!

 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlYHWpRR4yc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 

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#15 of 34 Old 11-18-2011, 02:40 PM
 
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Also want to mention another point that struck me from the video: Finnish teachers typically stay with the same group of children throughout. This is also typical in Waldorf Ed. The teacher moves throughout the grades with her class so she becomes invested in them, deeply involved with them, and learns a lot about them as individuals and as a group.

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Also want to mention another point that struck me from the video: Finnish teachers typically stay with the same group of children throughout. This is also typical in Waldorf Ed. The teacher moves throughout the grades with her class so she becomes invested in them, deeply involved with them, and learns a lot about them as individuals and as a group.


That is not how Canada works, though, and we came in second.

 

I actually like a lot of what Finland does, but I think the great differences in the current top 3 - Japan, Canada and Finland in educational systems really drives home that it is not a specific system that creates learning environments.

 

Here is a C/P from an article on what top performers do right:

 

 “set clear goals,” have checkpoints along the way to gauge (and control) student progress, worry a lot about teacher quality (principals, too), finance schools equitably, strike the right balance between autonomy and accountability, strive for a coherent “system,” etc. 

 

http://educationnext.org/forget-finland-what-ontario-can-teach-us-about-good-governance/

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#17 of 34 Old 11-18-2011, 08:05 PM
 
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Yes, I found it! Enjoy!

 


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlYHWpRR4yc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 



Thanks. Can't wait to watch it.

 

ETA: Interesting.They have the highest success in schools with the lowest number of classroom hours.


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#18 of 34 Old 11-19-2011, 05:01 AM
 
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I find the American system very strange because school hours are padded with unnecessary fillers - like "homeroom" (aka time for drama, flirting, and bullying - still can't figure out why it is there.) We had one half an hour break for an early lunch. School started at 8:30, we were out of class at 1pm (in elementary - about noon), and could go play with friends or do sports or piano lessons or whatever. Some kids stayed for the afternoon program, then there was another lunch, some playing / PE, homework, and even a nap for younger kids. *That* was the babysitting part for the kids who could not go home at 1pm, the rest did not have to suffer through it.

 

In retrospect, it was really awesome that we were not stuck there all day, doing nothing. 1pm - see ya! I'm off to eat and ride my bike with friends.

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I find the American system very strange because school hours are padded with unnecessary fillers - like "homeroom" (aka time for drama, flirting, and bullying - still can't figure out why it is there.) We had one half an hour break for an early lunch. School started at 8:30, we were out of class at 1pm (in elementary - about noon), and could go play with friends or do sports or piano lessons or whatever. Some kids stayed for the afternoon program, then there was another lunch, some playing / PE, homework, and even a nap for younger kids. *That* was the babysitting part for the kids who could not go home at 1pm, the rest did not have to suffer through it.

 

In retrospect, it was really awesome that we were not stuck there all day, doing nothing. 1pm - see ya! I'm off to eat and ride my bike with friends.



Where was this?


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Europe - between Finland and Canada. smile.gif

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Europe - between Finland and Canada. smile.gif



OK. Guess I'll get out my map.


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#22 of 34 Old 11-20-2011, 10:15 AM
 
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Yep. Fewer classroom hours, later starting age, more teacher autonomy and resources in the classroom, including teaching assistants. 

 

Doesn't Canada also allow taxpayers to decide where they want their educational funds sent? I've heard that homeschool ed is on the list and taxpayers can choose to have their ed funding support homeschooling. Aren't there also other options, such as alternative programs? I also remember a Canadian friend telling me that knitting is part of the school curriculum in Canada. Thought that was so cool!

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Doesn't Canada also allow taxpayers to decide where they want their educational funds sent? I've heard that homeschool ed is on the list and taxpayers can choose to have their ed funding support homeschooling. Aren't there also other options, such as alternative programs? I also remember a Canadian friend telling me that knitting is part of the school curriculum in Canada. Thought that was so cool!


No, there's a kind of anachronistic division of systems into "public" and "separate" in some provinces which allows taxpayers to direct their funds to Catholic parochial schools rather than the general public system, but it's a very problematic dichotomy. There is funding for homeschooling in a couple of provinces as well, but that's not taxpayer-directed money; it's government-directed and just comes out of the general government public education budget.

 

Knitting is not part of "the school curriculum" in Canada, as there's no single curriculum, or even clear provincial curricula. It's certainly possible for teachers to teach knitting in their classes, and I know that the K/1/2 teacher in our town does (we're in a very Waldorf-minded area), though it's certainly typical. But the conditions which allow teachers to introduce topics, concepts, approaches and priorities which appeal to them and their students, whether that's knitting, composting, math olympics, snowshoeing or animation, is supported.

 

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#24 of 34 Old 11-23-2011, 08:55 PM
 
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And yes, there are alternative programs, but they are NOT funded.  You have to pay private school tuition.  There are montessori and waldorf and even some sudbury valley schools, but they are expensive.

 

I find it quite fascinating how our educational system is perceived from the outside heehee...

 

My guess would be that your friend meant that knitting was part of the curriculum at HER child's school.  Which would make sense if it were, for instance, a Waldorf school.  But it's not part of "the curriculum" in any province.  

 

I think on the whole, the Canadian public school system, in terms of educational philosophy and actual practical approaches, is a step above the American.  But on the whole, it's very very very very similar.  Really just minor variations along the way, I think.


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I have just started reading a great book called, Boys Adrift.  And I just read today that the stark difference in Finland's education is that they don't begin formal education until a child is 7 years old.  This is especially helpful for boys because of the accelerated academics that are being done beginning in K here in the US.  If a boy (or girl) is not academically ready to read and write at age 5, he can quickly be labeled or even just get a sense for himself that he is not good enough and then develop a hatred for school that lasts his entire career.  This information alone is causing me to seriously reconsider some of our current homeschool methods. 

 

2/3 of the struggling readers who come to me for reading help are failures for precisely this reason. LOTS of girls, too.

 

By the end of first grade, they already view themselves as failures. So during 2nd grade, when the schools tell parents that it's too early to test them, let's wait and see—the child falls further and further behind. Why? She's not receiving the beginning reading instruction that she's now developmentally ready for, but is only getting instruction that is geared to the successful 2nd grade readers. Throughout grade school, there is never again an opportunity to learn to read with beginning strategies other than as brief asides for the "slow kids,", so they are reluctant readers, failing readers, or recalcitrant trouble-making students—all stemming from the early feelings of failure. 

 

Had the first teaching of reading happened a year or two later, they'd be in fine shape and would be caught up with peers who learned earlier in almost no time. Learning at 4 or 7 has no correlation to grades or abilities in college.  But the damaged readers? They rarely make it to college, unless the parents invest in someone like me, who specifically works with troubled readers and actually takes them out of the hellhole toward happy reading.

 

It's criminal, it's a nightmare, and it's why the United States calculates 40% of our fourth graders are reading below grade level. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, the government continues to ADD to the reading tasks the young child is to complete before getting out of kindergarten! It's insanity!! :/   Ooops. Got on the old hobby horse again. My bad! ;)

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Ooops. Got on the old hobby horse again. My bad! ;)


Your particular brand of badness is more than welcome here.

 

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#27 of 34 Old 11-25-2011, 04:05 PM
 
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Thanks, Mountain Mama! I feel better already. ;) 

 

Paula

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#28 of 34 Old 11-25-2011, 07:39 PM
 
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Ooops! Moominmamma! Sorry. I must have been channeling John Denver. ;)

 

GREAT impression to make for a reading teacher! ;D

 

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#29 of 34 Old 11-28-2011, 10:21 AM
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Maybe slightly off topic, but have you read "SPARK" -- the whole book isn't relevant, but the intro and the segment on learning are quite fascinating.  An American school district (using this guy's theory) decided to stay separate when taking the worldwide testing instead of being lumped in the pile of scores for their state.  They (that American school district-- or school) score either first or second in math and the opposite in science.  They beat out Singapore and all the others.  Now, our American score was still really low, but that individual school (or district--I can't remember) did outstanding.  

 

I think that the info provided in the book also goes hand in hand with why play is so important, but maybe not. 

 

Amy


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#30 of 34 Old 12-29-2011, 08:09 PM
 
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I just came upon this thread. Dear Nancy Plent, who is mentioned earlier up thread, recently passed away.

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