Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Finland. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta Finland. Mostrar todas las entradas

Las políticas educativas en Finlandia no se orientan a sacar buena nota en PISA

Rosa María Torres

(Traducción de entrevista a Pasi Sahlberg)

En las pruebas PISA 2015 (cuyos resultados se dieron a conocer mundialmente en diciembre de 2016) Finlandia se ubicó en el lugar 4 en lectura, 5 en ciencias y 12 en matemáticas a nivel mundial. Comparados con los resultados de PISA 2012, los puntajes de Finlandia cayeron en las tres categorías evaluadas: 5 puntos en lectura, 10 en matemáticas y 11 en ciencia. Es a partir de esta inquietud que el periodista Joe Heim de The Washington Post entrevistó al experto finlandés Pasi Sahlberg. Ver "Finland’s schools were once the envy of the world. Now, they’re slipping" (Las escuelas finlandesas fueron alguna vez la envidia del mundo. Hoy, están resbalando) (Dec. 8, 2016).
Decidí traducir al español las respuestas de Sahlberg por considerar que no solo esclarecen la situación finlandesa sino que pueden inspirar a otros países que participan o quieren participar en PISA, muy especialmente los latinoamericanos.

Ya es usual que los países de América Latina y el Caribe que participan en PISA se ubiquen en los últimos lugares de la lista. Volvió a suceder en PISA 2015; los 10 países participantes de la región se ubicaron a la cola de los 73 países participantes en el mundo. Como también ya es usual, para quienes obtienen bajos puntajes o no avanzan, el asunto pasa a convertirse en tragedia nacional; quienes mejoran puntajes, aunque sea levemente, celebran a lo grande. Todos piensan que la calidad de sus sistemas escolares, y el propio futuro de su educación, se juega en PISA. Todos se disponen a mejorar puntajes y rankings en la siguiente ronda, a preparar mejor a los estudiantes para las pruebas y a seguir las indicaciones que la propia PISA ofrece para lograrlo.

A todos los países, los que lamentan y los que festejan, les vendría bien interesarse en conocer mejor por qué Finlandia viene bajando puntajes y posiciones en el ranking mundial de PISA, y cuál es la postura de Finlandia frente a PISA y frente a sus propios 'resbalones' en las comparaciones internacionales. Sin duda, en el desapego finlandés por PISA y por las pruebas estandarizadas en general, radica una clave importante del éxito sui generis del modelo educativo finlandés.


P. ¿Qué piensa usted que explica mejor el descenso de Finlandia en los resultados de PISA? ¿Es que más países han alcanzado lo que estaba haciendo Finlandia o hay algún cambio fundamental en Finlandia en cuanto a qué y cómo están aprendiendo los alumnos? 
 
R. Ha sido difícil explicar por qué algunos países, incluido Finlandia, han venido teniendo un buen desempeño en las comparaciones internacionales de sistemas escolares. Ha sido igualmente difícil explicar de manera precisa por qué hay países que están bajando en estos resultados. Cuando miramos a los resultados de PISA en los países de la OCDE siempre debemos adoptar una mirada más amplia que simplemente los puntajes promedio en las pruebas.

Una dimensión importante es la equidad en educación, esto es, ¿cuán justo es el sistema escolar con niños que vienen de diferentes contextos? Aún en esta perspectiva más amplia ha habido un declive notable en el desempeño de Finlandia, tanto en los resultados de aprendizaje de los alumnos como en la equidad del sistema educativo (como sabemos hoy, estas dos dimensiones van juntas). He sugerido tres razones principales para este declive, que empezó ya hace más o menos 8 años.

● Primero. Ha habido una visible y alarmante tendencia a la baja en el desempeño educativo de los estudiantes varones durante la última década. Este fenómeno es más pronunciado en Finlandia que en cualquier otro país de la OCDE. En consecuencia, Finlandia es el único país en el que las mujeres obtienen mejores resultados que los vaorones no solo en lectura sino también en matemáticas y ciencia. Un factor que explica esta brecha de género en el logro escolar en Finlandia tiene que ver con la disminución de la lectura por placer entre los varones. Finlandia solía tener los mejores lectores escolares del mundo hasta inicios de los años 2000; ya no. Los ítems de las pruebas PISA dependen fuertemente de la capacidad de lectura comprensiva de quienes toman las pruebas. La aparición de las tecnologías "de mano", como los teléfonos inteligentes, entre los escolares en esta década ha acelerado probablemente esta tendencia.

● Segundo. El incremento rápido del "tiempo de pantalla" se está comiendo a menudo el tiempo destinado a los libros y a la lectura en general. Según algunas estadísticas nacionales, la mayoría de adolescentes en Finlandia pasa más de 4 horas al día en Internet (sin incluir tiempo de televisión) y el número de usuarios intensivos de Internet y otros medios (más de 8 horas diarias) está aumentando, igual que lo está haciendo en Estados Unidos, Canadá y otros países. Investigaciones recientes sobre cómo Internet afecta el cerebro - y, por tanto, el aprendizaje - sugieren tres consecuencias principales: procesamiento más superficial de la información, mayor distracción, y alteración de los mecanismos de auto-control. Si esto es cierto, hay razón para creer que mayor uso de las tecnologías digitales para la comunicación, la interacción y el entretenimiento hará más difícil la concentración en temas conceptuales complejos, como son los de las matemáticas o la ciencia. La mayoría de países están observando este mismo fenómeno de distracción digital entre los jóvenes.

● Tercero. Finlandia ha estado viviendo un revés económico serio desde 2008, el cual ha afectado a la educación más que a otros sectores públicos. Una austeridad sostenida ha forzado a la mayoría de los más de 300 municipios a cortar gastos, fusionar escuelas, aumentar el tamaño de las clases, y limitar el acceso al desarrollo profesional y el mejoramiento escolar. La consecuencia más dañina de estas limitaciones fiscales es la reducción de personal de apoyo, asistentes de clase, y personal de educación especial. Anteriormente, la fortaleza de Finlandia había sido el número relativamente pequeño de estudiantes con bajo rendimiento. Ahora, el número de estudiantes con desempeño inadecuado en lectura, matemáticas y ciencia se está acercando a los promedios internacionales. En Finlandia éste es probablemente el motor más significativo de inequidad creciente dentro de la educación. Un adagio finlandés para esto podría ser algo así como: La equidad en educación llega a pie y se va a caballo.

Creo que el hecho de que la mayoría de países de la OCDE han configurado sus políticas educativas nacionales - currículo, tiempo de enseñanza, evaluación - alineándolas con PISA, en la esperanza de incrementar los puntajes en PISA, ha afectado la posición de Finlandia a nivel internacional. Las políticas educativas en Finlandia no se orientan a sacar buena nota en PISA.

P. Estos nuevos resultados de PISA, ¿han generado preocupación entre los líderes educativos en Finlandia? 
 
R. PISA se usa más como una medida que confirma los resultados de las evaluaciones y las investigaciones nacionales, dentro de Finlandia, que como una métrica por sí misma. Esto significa que la mayor parte de resultados de PISA 2015, por ejemplo, eran bien conocidos en Finlandia. PISA 2015 no fue gran novedad en los medios finlandeses. Las autoridades comentaron estos resultados diciendo que Finlandia está todavía entre los 10 países con mejor desempeño dentro de la OCDE; al mismo tiempo, expresaron preocupación en torno a la creciente desigualdad y a la equidad erosionada en educación, las cuales han sido marca en las escuelas finlandesas. El desempeño alarmantemente bajo de los varones y la creciente disparidad regional también son temas de preocupación mencionados por las autoridades finlandesas.

Hay un número creciente de estudiantes inmigrantes en las escuelas en Finlandia. Ninguno de ellos habla finlandés al llegar, y aprender finlandés requiere más esfuerzo que muchas otras lenguas. PISA 2015 reveló una brecha relativamente grande entre los estudiantes no nacidos en Finlandia y otros estudiantes en las tres dimensiones medidas. Pese a que no es grande el número de estudiantes provenientes de familias inmigrantes en la muestra de PISA (alrededor del 4%), esta brecha de aprendizaje es un problema creciente en Finlandia. Pero no es un factor que explicaría la caída en la situación general.

P. ¿Puede anticipar algunos cambios que consideraría Finlandia para enfrentar esta caída?
 
R. PISA no es visto en Finlandia como un detonador de reformas educativas. No habrá ningún nuevo cambio en las políticas inspirado por PISA. El Ministerio de Educación ha lanzado un programa nacional dirigido a mejorar la educación primaria y el primer ciclo de la educación secundaria. Este programa incluye más pedagogías centradas en el alumno, más involucramiento de los estudiantes en la escuela, más actividad física para todos los estudiantes, y más tecnología en las aulas. El modo finlandés de pensar es que la mejor manera de enfrentar un desempeño educatvo insuficiente no es incrementar los estándares o el tiempo de enseñanza (o de deberes) sino hacer de la escuela un lugar más interesante y agradable para todos. Mejorar la motivación de los estudiantes hacia el estudio y el bienestar de la escuela en general están entre las principales metas de la actual política educativa en el país. 

P.  Muchos países han tratado de aprender de lo que ha logrado Finlandia en educación. ¿Deberían estos nuevos resultados dar pausa a otros países? ¿Qué lecciones deberían aprender otros países de este declive y qué lecciones debería sacar Finlandia de estos resultados?


R. Finlandia sigue siendo un país con uno de los sistemas escolares de más alto desempeño en el mundo. Diría que Finlandia continúa siendo un ejemplo interesante para otros porque en muchos sentidos su sistema escolar es muy diferente del de Japón o Canadá, ambos con alto desempeño en PISA. Lo que debemos subrayar es que PISA nos cuenta solo una pequeña parte de lo que sucede en la educación de un país. La mayor parte de lo que hace Finlandia, por ejemplo, no se ve en PISA. Sería miope concluir, solo mirando a los puntajes de PISA, dónde están los buenas ideas y la inspiración en educación. La educación inicial, una profesión docente altamente valorada, un foco importante sobre el bienestar y el desarrollo integral de los niños, y modelos alternativos de responsabilidad, continúan siendo área útiles de interés de Finlandia para los demás. 

Diría que ahora es importante para otros mirar más de cerca cómo Finlandia enfrentará esta nueva situación de resultados internacionales que decaen.

La primera lección es ciertamente que la mejor manera de reaccionar no es ajustar la escuela para tratar de lograr puntajes más altos en PISA. En los próximos años, los observadores extranjeros verán una enseñanza y un aprendizaje más integrados interdisciplinarmente en las escuelas finlandesas, lo que reducirá el tiempo de instrucción en matemáticas y ciencia. También verán más énfasis en las artes y en la actividad física en todas las escuelas.

La segunda lección es que el mejoramiento sostenible de la educación requiere proteger y realzar la equidad y la igualdad en la educación. Los visitantes internacionales verán posiblemente una conversación más intensa entre partidos políticos y opiniones acerca de cómo hacer que el sistema educativo sirva mejor a todos en Finlandia. 

Finalmente, lo que Finlandia debería aprender de estos resultados recientes es que reducir el gasto en educación siempre tiene consecuencias. Es miope pensar que un desempeño educativo alto y el mejoramiento continuo de las escuelas pueden hacerse mientras se reducen los recursos. Falta ver si políticos y burócratas finlandeses se toman estas lecciones en serio.

Otros titulares sobre la educación en Finlandia en The Washington Post:
How Finland broke every rule — and created a top school system
What Finland Can Teach China about education
What if Finland’s great teachers taught in U.S. Schools
Happy teaching, Happy Learning: 13 Secrets to Finland’s Success

Textos relacionados en OTRAƎDUCACION
» Un GERMen infecta a los sistemas escolares (traducción de artículo de Pasi Sahlberg)
» Artículos sobre PISA
» Artículos sobre la educación en Finlandia

10 false ideas on education in Finland


Rosa María Torres
Less is more . e-volv

1. FALSE: Finland has the highest investment in education

Finland allocates 11.2% of its public budget to education, from early childhood to higher education, including the latter (the Ministry of Education and Culture deals with the whole system). 

The average in OECD countries is 12%. Many countries with poorer learning outcomes and not providing free education have higher education budgets (for example Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, or the UK).
 

Education is free, including transportation and a daily school meal for all students. (Textbooks are not free in higher secondary education). 

- OECD, Education at a Glance 2015 (2012 data).


2. FALSE: The secret is more time dedicated to school 


Finland is the OECD country that dedicates less time to school education.
Schooling starts at age 7. 180 days a year, less school hours, less homework. 

A teacher teaches an average of 600 hours a year, 4 classes a day or less. (A school teacher in the United States teaches 1.080 hours a year, 5 or 6 classes a day). 

The formula is less class time, more and longer recesses (75 minutes in total).


Finland is the OECD country with the least homework. Students have more free time to play, to engage in physical activity, to learn out of school, to be with family and friends.  

3. FALSE: Intensive use of technology for teaching and learning in schools

The Finnish school system trusts teachers' skills and expertise. Finland's education strength is pedagogy, not technology. ICTs are at the service of pedagogy rather the other way round. 

Finland is back from some illusions created by technologies over the past decades. It ratifies the importance of handwriting, of reading on paper, of not relying solely on keyboards and screens. 

ICTs are not confined to laboratories any more. They are incorporated to classrooms and other learning spaces within the schools.


4. FALSE: Finland has great education infrastructure


A few modern and innovative school buildings have been built over the past few years. But most school buildings have been operating for many years, and are well maintained.

The key is the organization and use of space, and the creation of a stimulating and informal learning environment. Everything aims at generating collaboration, group work, peer learning, in and out of classrooms.

Class groups are small (max. 20 students per class) so as to facilitate interaction and personalized attention. This is considered especially important in the first two grades.


5. FALSE: Teacher candidates are selected from "best students"


"The best" are not necessarily those with the best grades or the most titles.


Several aspects are valued and observed in the selection of "future best teachers": motivation, attitude towards lifelong learning, reading habits, critical thinking, creativity, artistic and communication skills, knowledge of languages, values such as empathy, perseverance and social commitment. 
 
6. FALSE: Finland has the highest teacher salaries

Teacher salaries in Finland are below the OECD average.

The key behind teachers' excellent performance is not the economic incentive. There are other factors explaining their motivation and professionalism.

Finnish teachers are carefully selected, trained with high quality standards, and socially respected. They enjoy professional autonomy and take decisions every day in their work. The education administration, parents and the whole society trust them. They feel important and respected for what they do.


7. FALSE: Teachers are not unionized

 
95% of Finnish teachers are unionized.

The Finnish teacher union (OAJ) is strong and a main actor in education and education reform in the country. Its 120.400 members come from all levels of the education system, from early childhood education to higher education. 

8. FALSE: Finland applies standardized tests 


Finland is not a fan of standardized tests. It does not believe in them it avoids them. It applies one single standardized test to students after they are 16 of years of age. 

The main concern of the school system is learning, not grading or testing. Less time devoted to testing, more time devoted to teaching and learning. 


There is no teacher evaluation system in place. No standardized tests are applied to teachers. 


9. FALSE: Finland sets and publishes rankings 


Finland encourages collaboration, not competition, between learners, teachers and schools. Consequently, it avoids ranking them

It does not publish learning outcomes. 

Finland's objective has never been to be the best in the world, not even in Europe. The objective remains being the best education system for its own students. 


10. FALSE: Finland is satisfied with its education system and its learning outcomes  

Despite its top performance in PISA and its many top economic, social and cultural indicators, Finland is dissatisfied, always looking for ways to make education more meaningful and pleasurable for students. 

The country is currently engaged in a holistic and profound basic education curriculum reform. It is also rethinking the role of ICTs in teaching and learning, and revisiting early childhood education. 
 

Related texts in this blog 
» Rosa María Torres, FINLANDIA
» Rosa María Torres, Sobre la educación en Finlandia | On education in Finland

Conversando bajo la lluvia | Talking in the rain

Rosa María Torres

Fotos: Rosa María Torres

Es Día del Padre en Finlandia. Domingo frío, lluvioso, gris. No ha parado de llover desde ayer.

No dan ganas de salir pero decido ir a comprar leche y pan para desayunar.

En el parquecito de la esquina por el que paso todos los días encuentro a dos personas mayores sentadas a la mesa, conversando bajo la lluvia. El lleva un bastón. Ella, un chal sobre los hombros. Ninguno tiene paraguas. 

Me acerco a preguntarles si el kiosko abre hoy y empieza, así nomás, la conversación.

Ambos pueden manejarse bien en inglés.

- "Come, sit with us", me dice ella. Y se corre para hacerme un lugar en la banca.

Me siento. Me bajo la capucha del abrigo, para no desentonar, dispuesta a mojarme también.


Me preguntan de dónde soy.

No saben del Ecuador pero sí de Sudamérica, a diferencia de muchas personas con las que he hablado en estos días.

- "I was in Brazil and Argentina long ago", dice ella.

El exhibe sus conocimientos de fútbol, menciona futbolistas argentinos y brasileños, el café de Colombia, las ruinas incaicas de Perú.

¿Estoy en Finlandia por placer o por trabajo?. Ambos. He venido aquí por dos semanas, de visita de estudio. Estoy visitando escuelas y bibliotecas. Ustedes saben que la educación finlandesa es famosa en el mundo, ¿no?.

No, no saben. Saben, sí, que la educación en Finlandia es buena. Antes era otra cosa ...

- "Education in Finland is famous because there are people like us talking in the rain", bromea ella, riendo. El asiente y festeja. Todos nos reímos.

El se pone de pie y abraza el bastón, parodiando una escena de Dancing in the Rain.

¿Ustedes son pareja o amigos?

- "We met here today, five minutes before you arrived", explica él.

Empieza a llover más fuerte. Estamos empapados.

Ella se levanta, dice que ya se va. El se levanta, dice que también. Nos despedimos, alegremente.

Les veo irse caminando en direcciones distintas. Ella desaparece por el graderío. El, por la callecita empinada. 

Al día siguiente me entero que ahí, en las inmediaciones del parquecito, hay dos casas de ancianos. Una al pie de las gradas; otra bajando la cuesta. 

Visita de estudio en Finlandia | Finland study visit



Rosa María Torres

(English below)


Finalmente camino a Finlandia, a ver in situ su sistema escolar y su sistema de bibliotecas. Un modelo educativo que he llegado a admirar a la distancia, desde América Latina, sobre el cual he leído mucho y he escrito algo. 

De hecho, este Glosario mínimo sobre la educación en Finlandia - escrito en 2011 y agrandado con sucesivas actualizaciones - es el post más leído en mi blog OTRA∃DUCACION. La niña leyendo en una hamaca, sin zapatos, es la imagen que sintetiza para mí algunos de los elementos más preciados de la educación finlandesa: la escuela pausada, con tiempo, sin miedo, que se parece al hogar, que cultiva el juego y la lectura, que respeta a los niños y a sus individualidades, que crea buen clima escolar, que sabe motivar hacia el aprendizaje, que se lleva bien con la informalidad y los ambientes relajados ...

¿Es así o, entre imágenes y lecturas, lo fui ajustando a mi medida? Quiero observar, escuchar, preguntar, conversar, entrevistar, fotografiar, dentro y fuera de las aulas. Quiero recorrer escuelas, observar clases, meterme a las bibliotecas, hablar con profesores, directores, alumnos, padres de familia, bibliotecarios, profesores universitarios y académicos, y también con gente en la calle. Sé que debe haber de todo, que la perfección no existe, que las cosas deben ser muy diferentes entre Helsinki y el resto del país, y sobre todo en pueblos pequeños y en zonas apartadas.

De Finlandia no me atraen particularmente sus resultados y su ránking en PISA sino cómo ha llegado hasta aquí y cómo hace las cosas. Cómo logra lo que logra con mucho menos padecimiento que países asiáticos también bien ubicados en PISA como Corea del Sur, China y otros.

La educación finlandesa es tema de continuado interés en el mundo hispanohablante. A América Latina nos llega principalmente desde Estados Unidos y desde España, mediada por análisis y comparaciones con las realidades educativas de esos dos países. Nos llega también, cada vez más,  a través de consultores y empresas finlandesas que han empezado a vender servicios educativos a América Latina. Yo quiero verla con ojos latinoamericanos, como investigadora y especialista en la cuestión educativa.

La visita incluye reuniones con especialistas de la Finnish National Board of Education así como una charla sobre educación y reforma educativa en América Latina, organizada por el CIMO, en Helsinki. Me dejé algunos días libres, no programados, a fin de incluir en la marcha nuevas actividades que vayan surgiendo.

Muchos funcionarios del actual gobierno ecuatoriano han visitado Finlandia para ver su sistema educativo. Mi visita es personal, no financiada por ningún organismo nacional o internacional.

Compartiré en este blog impresiones de la visita. También iré contestando las preguntas que algunas personas me enviaron, a través de Twitter. Mi idea es escribir un libro, si consigo financiamiento para dedicarme al menos seis meses a investigar y escribir.

Agradezco a Pasi Sahlberg su ayuda para concretar esta visita y a Jaana Mutanen, del CIMO, por organizarla y acompañarme en varias de las visitas y reuniones. También agradezco a Johanni Larjanko por organizar las visitas a centros de educación no-formal de jóvenes y adultos en Helsinki y en Porvoo.

Camino a Helsinki, 28 octubre 2015

* * *

Finally on my way to Finland, to see its school system and its library system. An education model I admire at a distance, from the distant Latin American realities, and on which I have read a lot and written - mostly in Spanish.

In fact, this Glosario mínimo sobre la educación en Finlandia (Basic glossary on education in Finland) - written in 2011 and successively expanded with updates - is the most popular post in my blog OTRA∃DUCACION. The girl reading in a hammock, without shoes, synthesizes for me some of the most precious elements of Finnish education: the school with time, without fear, that feels a lot like home, cultivates play and reading, respects children, creates a good school and classroom climate, knows the difference between testing and learning and knows how to motivate towards learning, gets along with informality and with  relaxed environments.


Is it really like that? I want to observe, ask, talk, take pictures, in and out of schools. I want to visit schools, observe classes, sit in libraries, talk with students, parents, teachers, headteachers, librarians, researchers and academics, and also with people on the street. Perfection does not exist, and I know there must be big differences between Helsinki and the rest of the country, especially small towns and isolated areas.

I am not particularly attracted to Finland because of its results and rankings in PISA. I am interested to learn how Finland reached this point, how it does what is does and achieves what it achieves, with much less suffering than Asian countries that also get good positions in PISA such as South Korea, China and others.


Finnish education remains a topic of great interest in the Hispanic world. It reaches Latin America mainly through the United States and Spain, through analyses and comparisons with the education realities of those two countries. Increasingly it also reaches us through Finnish consultants and consultancy firms that have begun to sell education services in the region. I want to see it myself, with Latin American eyes, as a researcher and an education specialist.


The visit includes meetings with specialists of the Finnish National Board of Education, as well as a conference of mine on education reform in Latin America organized by
CIMO (Centre for International Mobility), in Helsinki. I decided to leave some days free in order to add any new activities that came up.

Many Ecuadorian civil servants have come to Finland to see its education system over the past few years. I undertook this study visit with my own resources, not depending on public or international funds.

I will be sharing some of my impressions on Finnish education in this blog. I will also respond to the
questions several people sent to me through Twitter. My idea is to write a book, if I manage to get some funding to allow me full time dedication to research and writing for at least six months.

Thank you to Pasi Sahlberg for helping me materialize this visit and to Jaana Mutanen of
CIMO for organizing it and accompanying me to several visits and meetings. I also thank Johanni Larjanko for organizing the visits to non-formal youth and adult education centers in Helsinki and Poorvo. 

On my way to Helsinki, October 28, 2015


También en este blog
| Also in this blog
La educación finlandesa comparada | Finnish education compared
Cuba and Finland | Cuba y Finlandia
On education in Finland | Sobre la educación en Finlandia
¿China, Corea del Sur o Finlandia?

Visita de estudio | Study visit
» Preguntas sobre la educación finlandesa
» Conversando bajo la lluvia  | Talking in the rain
» Timo y Giorgio
» Escuelas sin zapatos
» Finlandia: Tecnologías en escuelas y bibliotecas
» Dos malentendidos sobre la educación en Finlandia
» Confianza: Palabra clave en Finlandia
» Los estudiantes finlandeses no saben de Sudamérica
» El secreto finlandés es hacer todo al revés
» Yo estuve en "la escuela del futuro"

Artículos sobre PISA ▸ Articles on PISA



Artículos sobre las pruebas PISA publicados en este blog
Articles on OECD's PISA published in this blog


» 10 ideas falsas sobre Finlandia y la educación
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/02/10-ideas-falsas-sobre-Finlandia-y-la-educacion.html
» 10 false ideas on education in Finland
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/03/10-false-ideas-on-education-in-finland.html 

» Now comes PISA for "developing countries"
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/05/now-comes-pisa-for-developing-countries.html
» PISA para "países en desarrollo"
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/05/pisa-para-paises-en-desarrollo.html

» Stop PISA! ▸ ¡Paren PISA!
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/05/stop-pisa-paren-pisa.html

» PISA ¿para qué? (El Ecuador en PISA)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/04/pisa-para-que.html

» Los ministros de educación del MERCOSUR y las pruebas PISA 
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/08/los-ministros-de-educacion-del-mercosur.html


» Prueba PISA: Seis conclusiones y una pregunta
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/05/pruebas-pisa-seis-conclusiones-y-una.html

» Repensando el entusiasmo evaluador y las pruebas
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/12/repensando-el-entusiasmo-evaluador-y.html

» Glosario mínimo sobre la educación en Finlandia 
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/06/glosario-minimo-sobre-la-educacion-en.html

» ¿China, Corea del Sur o Finlandia?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com.es/2013/04/china-corea-del-sur-o-finlandia.html

» Un GERMen infecta a los sistemas escolares (traducción al español del artículo de Pasi Sahlberg)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/04/un-germen-infecta-los-sistemas-escolares.html
» How GERM is infecting schools around the world, by Pasi Sahlberg
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/how-germ-is-infecting-schools-around-the-world/2012/06/29/gJQAVELZAW_blog.html


» Una prueba no prueba nada (en proceso)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/03/las-pruebas-no-prueban-nada.html

» Voces críticas de PISA en América Latina (en proceso)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/11/voces-criticas-de-pisa-en-america-latina.html


» PISA con humor
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/09/pisa-con-humor.html


»
Las políticas educativas en Finlandia no están orientadas a sacar buena nota en PISA (entrevista con Pasi Sahlberg)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/12/las-politicas-educativas-en-finlandia-y-PISA.html

» Más evaluación, ¿mejor educación?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2017/10/mas-evaluacion-mejor-educacion.html

Transforming formal education from a lifelong learning perspective


Rosa María Torres

Conference prepared for the
  International Conference on Learning Cities
           UIL-UNESCO and China's Ministry of Education,
           Beijing, China, 21-23 October 2013


(draft, in process)
Pawel Jonca

Lifelong Learning means Learning throughout Life

Many people confuse Lifelong Learning (LLL) with Out-of-School Learning (Informal Learning, Open Learning, etc.), leaving the school system out of it. Many think LLL as Adult Education or as Non-Formal Education, leaving children out of it. All these associations seem to ignore that Lifelong Learning means literally learning throughout life.

In the first place, LLL is a fact: all of us learn from birth to death, everywhere and from many sources: family, friends, play, observation, practice, experience, nature, school, work, reading, writing, solving problems, participating, etc.

LLL is also the paradigm proposed for education and learning policies and systems in the 21st century. It embraces and emphasizes two key concepts: LEARNING and LIFE.

LEARNING: 
- NOT getting access to
- NOT teaching
- NOT studying
- NOT approving

LIFE:
- NOT only adulthood.

Formal education and lifelong learning 
 
Formal education
is "institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies" ( UNESCO's
International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED, revised in 2011). The education ladder includes pre-school education, primary education, lower and upper secondary education, technical and vocational education, adult formal education, and higher education. 

Formal education is a very important part of the LLL experience. However, viewed in a LLL perspective, formal education occupies a rather small portion of learners' lives. Most of what we learn in life (and some of the most important, such as learning to speak) is the result of  informal learning: non-institutional learning that occurs in daily life, and where no actual or deliberate teaching is involved.

Millions of people worldwide get no or very little formal education; others make it through various school levels, get diplomas and higher education qualifications. All of them - the illiterate and the Ph.Ds - are lifelong learners. Without learning, survival and life would be impossible. Those who never go to school learn basically through informal learning and oral (non-written) interaction.

Life and lifelong learning

Life is getting longer. Life expectation has grown considerably throughout the world over the past two decades. Consequently, adult and older learners have multiplied - current population trends indicate they will continue to multiply in the coming years. New scientific knowledge confirms that aging implies cognitive deterioration but it also confirms that older adults are capable of learning almost anything. Now we also know that learning begins before birth, and that it takes place also while we sleep.

Schooling and lifelong learning

Formal education continues to expand downwards and upwards. Institutionalized initial/pre-school education grow in many countries, and even become part of compulsory education in a few countries; the age to start school is also lowered in some countries. On the other side, higher education continues to expand, adding degrees and titles. School life expectation and the number of years of schooling and/or of higher education graduates are taken as indicators to compare countries' educational status.

However, the real objective is not a competitive race for titles. The objective is learning, enhancing lifelong learning opportunities for all, creating learning societies.

Formal education and learning

Access to school, especially to primary education, has been the traditional focus of national governments and international agencies vis à vis "developing countries". Completion of primary education and other levels and cycles, was the next step. Actual learning has remained an elusive objective until very recently, and often continues to be confused with approving school tests. And yet, the core mission of education is learning. Teaching without learning is absurd and a waste of time. Learning remains a critical area of school systems worldwide. Ensuring learning within the  school system is thus a major challenge in itself.

OECD: PISA & PIAAC

OECD's PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test applied to 15 year-olds since the year 2000 assesses competencies in three key areas: reading, mathematics and science. Initially designed for OECD countries, over 70 countries have participated in PISA so far.

In recent times, OECD has also applied ‌the Survey of Adult Skills, a survey conducted in 33 countries as part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies  (PIAAC). The survey was applied in 2012 to 16 to 65 year olds. It measured "Literacy, Numeracy and Problem Solving Skills in Technology-rich Environments". They are considered "information-processing skills", "key cognitive and workplace skills needed for individuals to participate in society and for economies to prosper." The questions could be answered via computer or with pen and paper. 5,000 individuals were interviewed at home in each participating country.

This is the first international survey on the subject, the first one digging into LLL from an adult (16-65) learning perspective. The first results were released in October 2013.


                                          PIAAC: Some results
PIAAC provides insights into how these "information-processing" skills are developed and used at work and at home. Below a concise summary of some of these results:

▸ LITERACY AND NUMERACY skills are low in most countries.

▸ INITIAL + CONTINUING OPPORTUNITIES There appears to be a combination of poor initial education and lack of opportunities to further improve skills.

▸ AGE In general, older adults have lower proficiency in the three domains than younger ones (the peak is around 30 years of age). This is especially true in relation to modern technology. The extent of the gap between generations varies considerably among countries.

▸ GENDER differences are there (men have higher scores in numeracy and problem solving in technology‑rich environments than women), but the gap is not large and is very small among younger adults.

▸ LANGUAGE is a major barrier affecting the immigrant population, especially in the literacy domain.

▸ ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL WELL BEING is positively related to higher skills levels.

▸ WORK has major influence on skills use and development.

▸ FORMAL EDUCATION On average, adults with tertiary‑level qualifications have a 36 score‑point advantage – the equivalent of 5 years of schooling – over adults who have not completed upper secondary education. However,  levels and qualifications are not necessarily linked to skills proficiency.
Source: OECD Interactive Charts  OECD Skills Outlook 2013



Literacy and numeracy continue to be the most important and critical skills (all ages)


For the purpose of the Survey of Adult Skills, PIAAC defines Literacy and Numeracy as follows:

Literacy is the ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts, to participate in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential. Literacy encompasses a range of skills from the decoding of written words and sentences to the comprehension, interpretation and evaluation of complex texts. It does not, however, involve the production of text.

Numeracy is the ability to access, use, interpret and communicate mathematical information and ideas in order to engage in and manage the mathematical demands of a wide range of situations in adult life. To this end, numeracy involves managing a situation or solving a problem in a real context by responding to mathematical content represented in multiple ways.
Source: OECD Interactive Charts



Historically, literacy and numeracy are at the heart of the school system and of the mission of primary education in particular. Reading, writing and dealing with mathematical problems, continue to be at the top of any list of "21st century skills". However, literacy and numeracy skills continue to be problematic for a large part of the schooled population, be it children, youth or adults, in both "developed" and "developing" countries.

This is what PISA and PIAAC reveal, as well as many other research and evaluation reports throughout the world. Formal education is doing a poor job in this field. This is not new. The situation has been identified and exposed for a long time now.
▸ After completing 4 years of primary school, 130 million children worldwide cannot read and write (Education for All - EFA Report 2012)

▸ "In most countries, there are significant proportions of adults who score at lower levels of proficiency on the literacy and numeracy scales" (...) "Even among adults with computer skills, most scored at the lowest level of the problem solving in technology‑rich environments scale."
(PIAAC 2013)
(See: Rosa María Torres, El fracaso alfabetizador de la escuela | ¿Renuncia a un mundo alfabetizado?)

What does it mean transforming formal education from a LLL perspective?

Among others:

■ A unitary, articulated formal education system  
In many countries, the formal education system is segmented in two or more systems - education and higher education, or initial/preschool education, education, and higher education - in charge of different government bodies (Family, Social Wellbeing, Education, Technical Education, Training, Higher Education, etc.). with little or no co-ordination between them. A major challenge is thus viewing and organizing formal education as a continuum, as a teaching and learning system articulated in all dimensions: administrative and normative issues, curriculum, pedagogy, learning spaces, teacher education, etc. 

■ Placing learning at the centre
Moving from access to learning,
from student to learner,
from studying to learning,
from approving to learning,
from education for all to learning for all,
from lifelong education to lifelong learning.

■ Acknowledging learners’ and teachers' previous knowledge and experience
Acknowledging learners' (children, youth, adults) and teachers’ previous and out-of-school information, knowledge and experience and adopting it as a key pedagogical principle at all levels.

■ Rethinking TIME for education and learning purposes 
The school system is always in a rush, trying to add and cover as much content as possible, with the "next level" as the desirable and visible horizon. A LLL perspective of learning allows moving back and forth, seing beyond the next level and back to the previous level, and outside the school system. Learning requires time.
(See: Rosa María Torres, ¿Más de lo mismo? Un sistema escolar que se estira | Repensar los tiempos escolares)

■ Rethinking SPACE for education and learning purposes 
The school system is one of many education and learning systems. Learning is ubiquitous. Rather than trying to assume total responsibility and control over learning, counting with families as the only "outside partners", school systems and teachers have a critical role in visualizing community and out-of-school learning realities and possibilities, and identifying the role of the community as a learning community.
(See: Rosa María Torres, Comunidad de Aprendizaje: Educación, territorio y aprendizaje comunitario)

■ Rethinking AGE within the right to education and to learning (education and learning for ALL)
Radically rethinking the traditional vision of AGE for schooling, education and learning purposes.
- Learning does not begin with the first day of school. Learning begins at birth (and even before birth). Early childhood is the most important learning period and experience in the life of any individual. When children get to school they are competent speakers of their language, they have learned and know many things. This knowledge must not be denied but rather be assumed as the starting point for the school experience.
- Revisiting concepts such as 'school age' and 'over-age'.
- Promoting (rather than inhibiting) peer-to-peer learning and inter-generational learning.
- Acknowledging adult education as part of the right to education and of the learning continuum.
- Children's right to education must include the right to educated parents.
(See: Rosa María Torres, Pre-niños (los cimientos invisibles) | Children's right to basic education | Educar a los niños o a los adultos: falso dilema | Los niños como educadores de adultos | Kazi, el sin gracia | Kazi, The Graceless | Child learning and adult learning revisited)

■ Connecting school and out-of-school learning systems
Connecting the school system to the multiple learning systems operating out of school: home, community, media, play, work, religion, social and civic participation, etc.

■ Education centres and community learning centres and learning communities
Thinking education centres as community learning centres and learning communities (inter-generational, family-centred, learning-oriented).


SIX EXAMPLES: LLL POLICIES AND FORMAL EDUCATION

A LLL perspective of literacy acquisition, use and development

When and where do we learn to read and write? Where do we read and write? Where do we develop our reading and writing skills?

The answer is: FROM BIRTH and EVERYWHERE.
- When children reach school, they have valid knowledge about reading and writing, they have developed their own hypotheses about their use by seing others read or write and by seing reading and writing materials around them.
- The school system is not the only one in charge of teaching and developing literacy skills. Moreover, within the school system, literacy education is embedded in the entire curriculum, not just in one particular subject.

Finland is a fine example in this regard: the whole society places great importance on reading and enjoys reading. Reading is a national hobby. Reading and writing are given great emphasis in the school curriculum. Families use libraries over the weekend; libraries are spread everywhere. Newspaper subscription is one of the highest in the world.

Given that literacy is often the main reason for school repetition in early grades, a wider vision of literacy acquisition would allow to understand it not as an objective for the first or two first grades but at least for the whole of basic education.
(See: Rosa María Torres, El absurdo de la repetición escolar)

Literacy, and reading specifically, require LLL policies and strategies, prior to and far beyond the school system, not tied to any particular Ministry (typically, Education and/or Culture), making use of all available and potential resources, from the local to the national level.

A schooled society is not necessarily an educated society. An educated society is a learning society. Proficient reading and writing are essential to an educated and a learning society.  
(See: Rosa María Torres, Escolarizado no es lo mismo que educado).

A LLL perspective of teacher education 

Teachers’ school biography and family background are key elements in teacher quality. Teacher education does not start with professional education. Quality formal education requires quality teachers, but quality teachers are educated in quality schools. School reform is thus a requisite for quality teacher education.
(See: Rosa María Torres, Los maestros son exalumnos | Talleres de lectura para maestros)

A LLL perspective of skills development

PIAAC confirms that "actual skills often differ from what formal education qualifications suggest".
▸ "Italy or the United States rank much higher internationally in the share of adults with tertiary degrees than in the level of literacy or numeracy proficiency".

▸ "On average, Japanese and Ducth high school graduates easily outperform university graduates in some other countries".
▸ "In many countries, there are large proportions of the population that have no experience with, or lack the basic skills needed to use ICTs for many everyday tasks".  (PIAAC 2013)
Answers to the question: Where are skills developed, used and eventually lost? include formal, non-formal and informal learning, and especially the role of home, school and work.

A LLL perspective of school "dropout" 

School "dropout" is generally not a personal decision but rather a sign of system disfunction. It is not a sudden fact, but a process. A process that starts in the early grades of primary school and even before, in early childhood and pre-school education. The school system gives students and their families permanent signs that things are going fine or wrong. Problems are viewed as "learning problems", "learners' problems", "individual problems", rarely as "teaching problems" and "system problems". Policies and programmes often see their mission as "reducing school failure" rather than "ensuring school success". Failure becomes the expected outcome, much more than success, especially if students come from poor and disadvantaged contexts. Nothing is more successful than success. If children are trusted, if high expectations are deposited in them, they will succeed. From the start. This is the best way to "prevent failure" and "reduce dropout".
(See: Preventing Dropout Effort Starts in Kindergarten, MindShift, Dec. 1, 2010).

A LLL perspective of family cultural environment and inter-generational learning

All studies and evaluations of school learning achievement conclude on the critical role of out-of-school factors and especially of the family, not only its socio-economic but also its cultural status and background. Literate/educated mothers and fathers, and a culturally rich and stimulating family environment, make a big difference in children's learning and performance in school. And yet, disregarding all scientific and empirical evidence, adult education continues to be treated with ad-hoc remedial policies, often reduced to adult literacy. A LLL perspective would imply an inter-generational approach to children's and adults' learning, address the family as a whole - family literacy, family education, family cultural development.
(See: Rosa María Torres, Niños que trabajan y estudian: Centro del Muchacho Trabajador, Ecuador)

A LLL perspective of "human talent"

Increasingly, the notion of "human talent" gets to be associated with formal education and, specifically, with higher education, science and technology. However: a) every person has talent(s), b) human talent is developed since early childhood, c) there is no necessary correlation between talent and titles. A LLL perspective of human talent development takes all this into account, for investment and pedagogical purposes.


Transforming formal education from a LLL perspective: a major 21st century challenge

Given the importance of the school system as a systematic teaching and learning system for children, youth and adults, one that is spread throughout the world and that is critical to fulfilling the right to education, transforming formal education from a LLL perspective is essential to make LLL an effective new education and learning paradigm, to organize learning communities, and to build learning societies.

This implies an authentic revolution, not just introducing innovations, reforming or "improving the quality of education". It requires scientific knowledge but also people's wisdom and lots of common sense. Political will - top-down and bottom-up - is essential, but so are creativity and imagination!

Març Rabal

Related texts in this blog (English)
Rosa María Torres, On LifeLong Learning Sobre Aprendizaje a lo Largo de la Vida (compilation)
Rosa María Torres, Sobre Lectura y EscrituraOn Reading and Writing  (compilation)
Rosa María Torres and Manzoor Ahmed, Reaching the Unreached: Non-Formal Approaches and Universal Primary Education (dossier)
Rosa María Torres, Lifelong Learning in the South: Critical issues and opportunities for adult education, Sida Studies No 2, Stockholm, 2004 (book, PDF) 

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