Thursday, 26 May 2011

Finnish Schools and Finished Schools

Back in 1964, I worked during my summer holidays in a Swedish hotel - the Hotel Siljansborg in Rättvik. In the staff rest room, a favourite TV programme was Bonanza. This helped me understand why Swedish people spoke English as if born speaking it: though Bonanza was sub-titled, the English sound track was left intact. The same was generally true.

(There was once a hilarious short film - I forget the title - an Ingmar Bergman / Seventh Seal take-off. The characters speak English with up and down Swedish accents and the film is sub-titled in English).

From Richard Garner in today's Independent, writing about the Finnish education system, I learn that Finland bans the dubbing or sub-titling of foreign TV programmes. So Finns have no choice: learn English. After all, no one is going to learn Finnish even if it was learnable.

Finnish Schools consistently top world performance leagues and everyone goes to Finland to study them. This includes our Minister of Education, Michael Gove.

Given a choice between doing as the Finns do (they don't have school uniform) and paying a Deputy Head in every school a large salary to do nothing but police school uniform, we know what Mr Gove's choice will be. Where it all leads was illustrated in my recent Blog about Dagenham Park [Church of England] School. Finnish Schools are doing very well. Don't expect ours ever to challenge them in the world performance league. When you have God, the Queen and School Uniform, who needs to be able to read and write?

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