Friday, February 6, 2015

Interview with a Finnish Foreign Exchange Student

After viewing an art exhibition this evening with my son, we ran into one of his high school friends who just happened to have in tow with her a young visitor from Finland. I found out our visitor is attending a popular suburban high school here in the Midwest. During our discussion the Finnish visitor revealed American high schools “treat their students like 10-year olds.” "You have to ask permission to use the bathroom!" "At my old school we just get up and leave." “Here it's like being in juvenile detention.” In Finland we emphasize creativity and thinking outside the box, and we have no testing like you do here!"
There seems to be much ignorance within the body politic responsible for US education policy regarding learning experience and matters of the mind. Then again, perhaps it’s not ignorance at all. Perhaps there is a reason why our schools look like factories, learning is fragmented outside children’s interests and intellectual development is measured like meat on a butcher’s scale.
Of course the American “bewildered herd” doesn’t know anything except testing and rating schools by test scores. Who is responsible for that drum beat? Mass media? Who is selling that message? 
No mention that over 20% of children in the US over the age of 18 suffer from mental illness. No mention that testing drives curriculum into a year-long radical behaviorist drill exercise for high stakes standardized tests with little time for creative or personal learning experience.
Looking at US juvenile incarceration rates ( ), crime rates, poverty rates, drop out rates…highest in the industrialized world, one can make the inference there is a reasonable causation for these statistics.
US children suffer under structural violence.
Who is responsible for this structure?