Time to Think of Renewal


Since time is always of the essence, it is never too early to do first things first. As we near the end of 2017, we can begin to set our sight on the times ahead. The end of one year and the beginning of another as simply parts of our continued journey here on this earth. Since our beginning, we have not stopped and begun again. If anything, we change directions, continue on some courses, stopped to refresh and reboot, or increase our pace. We really do not end and begin again. This is so, because our life is a journey which will end at some point for good.

While we travel our journey, we can or we must consider our purpose. Why are we here? Where should we be? What is our service and to whom is our service? What do we have to give and by what mechanisms should we give it? These are some of the many questions we must ask to define and clarify our purpose. A focused purpose will provide a greater result than one that is ill-defined and sparse.

It has become clear, especially in recent time that economies around the globe are changing. What used to be a definite path for many families are no longer the norm. Industries that once required little knowledge have changed to those that demand specific skills and expertise. For example, coal for heating home is surely going the way of dinosaurs.  Cheaper and cleaner energy forms have pushed coal fuel to the back of the energy line. The promise of Donald Trump that he will put coal miners back to work is really untrue. So, with the emergence of wind, nuclear, and solar energy sources among others, to be employed in the energy sector required specific skills in science and technology. That is a far cry from digging for coal and the like.

New forms of entrepreneurship are springing up everywhere as a result of the demands of new economies. Many of the old brick and mortar stores are being replaced by tiny businesses, operating from homes or small spaces with the use of computer technology. Wealth creation can be achieved at a desk with a desktop or laptop computer and a few more gadgets. Payment systems are also changing, making the movement of funds easier and cheaper. It is with that in mind that I encourage many budding entrepreneurs and young people dreaming of finding their niche in life or want to make it BIG in E-Commerce to consider the following:




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Why is Finland at the Top in Education?

The news was stunning in the West, in 2001, when it was discovered that Finland was ranked at the top after a standardized test was done to see how well students in developed countries were performing. With all of the available resources at hand to support student learning, Western students were preforming well below expectations and more so, below students in countries far less equipped and resourced. The question was: Why were students in Finland doing so well?

A close look at Finland’s approach to education reveals several reasons for success. Foremost among the reasons is that Finland teaches have high status, receive much professional support, and receive wages comparable to highly paid professionals.

In Finland, teachers teach about half the time Western teachers do; about four hours a day. Another two hours are given to professional development. Teachers are able to reflect on their instructional skills almost immediately, thereby allowing them to make corrections, sharpen approaches, or develop new tactics. The time allotted each day for evaluation and analysis of practice, result in a much improved confidence in the material taught in general and the calming environment in which teaching is done.

Parents, administrators, and students alike treat teachers with a similar respect they accord a medical practitioner or other highly regarded professional. In some instances, it could be said that Finns have a greater trust in their public school teachers than they do in other governmental institutions.

It must be noted that becoming a teacher in Finland is no small endeavour. Teachers are required to have a master’s degree and undergo a vigorous teacher training program that lasts for five years. Teachers in the secondary panel are expected to have a master’s degree in the subject area in which they intend to teach. In addition, teachers are expected to complete their master’s degree with a well-researched dissertation.

Another note-worthy point about Finland’s educational approach is that it does not have national standardized test and teachers and schools are not rewarded or punished based on student performance. No school in Finland is blamed for poor performance of students, neither are schools rewarded for high performance. Teachers are solely responsible for setting and evaluating student expectations. The government has no say in this area.

This next point is key to student success in Finland and should be clearly noted. Students in the early grades in Finland have a lot of time devoted to recess. In the West, we talk about the fact that students learn through play, but there is no follow through with that stated view. In fact, our schools tend to ensure that students have less time to play. The moment a child arrives at school in the West, the pressure is on to conform to the strict restraints that the system has in place. To do otherwise is not acceptable. So, for many students, school can be a restrictive environment,(allow me to be candid) much like a prison
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