abandoning subjects in schools

saw this article on qz.com titled “This school in Norway abandoned teaching subjects 40 years ago” via a fb feed. as the article pointed out, recent reports had focused on Finland’s decision to phase out teaching by ‘subjects’ abt a month ago.

the Norway school highlighted here is Ringstabekk (Lower Secondary) School, taking in students between grade 8-10. some interesting points in the article:

“4-6 teachers, is responsible for the education and growth of 60-75 students”
– this points to a teacher-student ratio of 75/4 –> 1:19 (max). a ratio much HIGHER than ours.

“The teachers pick up ideas from each other and share their experiences ensuring … all students experience the same learning methods and multidisciplinary themes.”
– we too have our many forms of CoP, PLC, PLN, AR/LS groups. except in this case, there’s (a lot a lot more) “cross-subjects” pollination of ideas & perspectives since the teachers work in teams, and not subject departments.

“The students … work in small groups most of the time. This is based on the theory that most of our learning happens when we think, talk, and solve tasks together … and the idea of “learning by doing,” theories developed by the late Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky and the late American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey.”
– i think our teachers cite Vygotsky more often than Dewey. why? perhaps teachers realised there’s plenty of doing, but … … not sure, need further research to shed light on this.

“The Ringstabekk school has to follow the national curriculum and national assessment-systems, so every student still gets individual grades for each traditional subject. “
– our teachers will be interested in HOW to do such ‘conversion’ if we were to experiment with such a system.

“On these tests, they are performing on the top national level, …Students become very engaged in what they do at school—sometimes they don’t want breaks, because they are eager to continue the work they have started.”
– sounds like producing future workaholics, but results & motivation are both taken care of. what else more would a teacher ask for from any student?

“Most parents are very satisfied with the school—they realize that it actually is preparing their kids for a future working-life …”
– if PARENTS are happy, i assume society is happy. any teacher would be happy to have such happy partners in education (:

“The head teacher at the school puts it this way: ”We are not just developing calculators, we are developing human beings.””
– does this imply that some schools are producing ‘calculators’? what are we producing in our classrooms? more ‘exam machines’ than human beings as some teachers termed it? good food for thought.

two other web sources pointing to the school can be found here: a 2001 OECD report on ICT integration, and a Notes page in Wrigley, T., Thomson, P., & Lingard, R. (2011). Changing Schools: Alternative Ways to Make a World of Difference (p.46) via Google Books