Can We Learn From Finland’s Education?

Since the 1970s, Finland has taken a serious approach to educate students, and today, that country still enjoys top ratings. What Finland did was to have highly competent teachers, foster early childhood education, allow schools the autonomy to address local needs by decentralizing administration, and guaranteed a uniform and free education for all students. What has been found is Finnish students score higher than most of their peers on international assessment tests, although they do not have much homework and tests. In addition to the core curriculum, much emphasis is places on music, the arts, and outdoor activities.

This is information that may be of interest to us ad we discuss our educational priorities going forward.

I am interested in your thoughts.

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Folks! We Know What to do.

Would you agree with me that it is futile looking around for something which you are holding in your hand? What we do to help one another and especially our children is not hidden from us. We already know what to do. It’s just a matter of putting the things into action and watch the change happen in the lives of our children.

It is not that we do not have time or “the time” as some often say. Each day is twenty-four hours — no more, no less and all of us operate within that frame. What is obvious is that we choose how time is utilized. Given that we must rest and recuperate, our waking hours must be used to bring about the desired results that we need.  We must decide how our time used on the various things that need to be done. It is better to get three things done well than to attempt to do a dozen things inadequately. So, here’s what we can do. Insist on  the “must dos” and devote the time that is needed to them. Do that without fail. For example, a must do is to spend time teaching your child or children the foundational things they need to make life work for them. Teach them to be prompt, focused, purposeful, habitual, and deliberate, to name a few. Notice that I said “teach” not “tell”. It is important that we understand the difference.

You will also agree with me that there are many times that we tell things to others and it does not make any difference what ever. That being the case, stop telling. It may be more effective to show rather than tell. There are very good reasons why we have eyes, so let’s get our kids looking at what we do. Mind you, I am not saying that we must never tell our children to do things, but we must be mindful of the effect of what we do. Also, children are very good at picking up what they see more than what they hear. Do you wonder why you’ve heard others, not you, making this famous observation about children — ” are you deaf”? Don’t laugh! We are just as guilty of ignoring what we hear. It’s true, that, “seeing is believing”. I’ll take that a little further and say that “seeing is convincing”. Unless is person is visually impaired, it’s hard to argue against what was shown.

Let’s use the wisdom we have acquired over time, the wisdom of the aged and live it out in the sight of our children. Do it in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. Do it daily, without fail and watch you children soar. While you are at it, sprinkle what you do with love. Love is a good season. It enhances so much.

Folks, we know what to do, so let’s do it.

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This Is Not How We Do It Here!

Those were the words of a person who was being paid to educate children. I want you to add a harsh tone to those words and increase the decibels; you have a good idea of the incident the student was experiencing. The student was male, had come from a so-called “rough” school to the school where I was a Grade 5 teacher, and he was known to be living in a community of recent immigrants with tropical backgrounds. To some this child was not like the other children.

The entire assembly was silenced; not from the boy’s voice or from the off-key singing. The assembly was shocked by the loud rebuke of the boy; how dare he spoil the National Anthem with his off-key singing! Without a preamble, a taking him aside and courteously inquire into his singing, or anything that a good teacher would do, this teacher humiliated the 11 year old boy who sang off-key in her country. As this student was under my tutorial care, I was informed of the incident and in my style, I decided to allow some time to pass before I spoke to the student who was understandably upset, angry, and in tears.

When this boy was transferred to my school, I was the most likely person, I was told, and that could help this child. Apart from the fact that I have had much success with children of every personality we’ve had, the boy did not look very different from the way I looked and there was very little doubt that any other teacher wanted to have him. I was happy to have him, because I knew what to do and how to deal with so-called difficult children.

I have never forgotten the scene; the anger that was present was palpable. It was a difficult and trying time for everyone and to some degree, there was anticipation for what I would do. Whether I could handle the situation in a winsome manner or not was in the balances. There was no greater task than to bring this situation to a win for the boy, the teacher, the principal, and indeed for the entire school. This was a fairly new school. People got along very well. We came from many schools to this school having worked together before. The camaraderie among the staff was the envy of other schools within the board. We did a lot of extra-curricular activities and students were very proud to be part of our school. But, this was a critical moment and one that could be very telling for everyone concerned.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? If you do, you have an idea of what I was going through at the time. You see, the boy was looking at me for what he wanted to occur. The teacher was looking at me to see what I would say and do and whether I would create a worse situation in the relationship that she had with the boy. The teaching staff did not know what was going to happen; they knew that I was someone who stood for the downtrodden, yes, the mistreated and the downcast. When some children had difficulty sticking to the school rules, I decided that I would sit with them for lunch. To that, a good teacher friend of mine remarked, “that will be some kind of punishment for those children”. The notion was that the children should be punished because they did not behave as expected during the lunch period. I was intended to show that the children could indeed behave. I knew how to invoke good behaviour from the “worst” children. I found the answer was in being kind, respectful, and authentic. Being real with the children and clear in expectations.

To be continued…
That’s all for now. Until next time.

Below is the information to order a copy of my bestselling book which is becoming the talk among parents and students alike.

To be continued…
That’s all for now. Until next time.

Below is the information to order a copy of my bestselling book which is becoming the talk among parents and students alike.


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Be Firm With Your Boy But Kind

One of the things I kept in mind when I dealt with children was to be clear about what I meant or wanted, while at the same time, I remained controlled, calm and kind. I noted that children were little human beings that had feelings and emotions that could be hurt or damaged and that their future depended on the experiences they’ve had over time. I saw situations where children were dealt with in very harsh ways that were really unnecessary. Whatever the point was that authority figures wanted to get over could have been done with kindness. The power plays were often quite evident in the interplay between children and authority figures and I made it a duty not to indulge in that kind of mistreatment of children, mine or other people’s.

I did my Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Toronto, and had an Environmental Science class with professor Bill Andrews. Professor Andrews and I talked often about teacher student relations and I recalled two takeaways that I got from the many conversations that we had. The first was that many teachers gave children a hard time. Now, you may well agree with that. I sure did remember one of my teachers who seemed to take pleasure in calling children embarrassing names as if to shame them. Certainly that’s not why children are sent to school. But, that happens and it should not. However, Professor Andrews said, “We don’t have to join to folks that give children a hard time”. That has never left me to this day. As I work with children in whatever setting, I think of making their lives a joyous and exciting experience. The other thing I got from Professor Andrews was his strategy of making children see my urgency in a request, by using the expression: “right now!” with a slightly raised voice. It worked without fail. It also avoided unpleasant backs and-forth and increasing arguments.

Children in general and boys in particular need to be acknowledged for who they are, what they’ve accomplished — however litter it appears to us, and they need to be encouraged to do the best they can. This must always be done with kindness. When they have to be corrected as often they must, that too must be done in manners that are firm but kind. It can be done and the results will be healthy. There is no worse feeling than a child to think that punishment is always being meted out with very little opportunity for correction. I remember telling many teachers that children should be corrected and criminals should be punished. After all, our little boys, indeed our teenagers need a lot of correction click here they need a lot of guidance. If you were to ask them they will tell you just that, too.

Let’s show our boys the beauty that they possess instead of making them feel that they only produce ugliness. Let’s not judge them simply by what we see externally. We can upgrade our methods of evaluation by recognizing that our boys are not only what we can see or hear about them. What they are deeper than their external attributes. When they speak, we must listen closely and be very slow to comment on what we hear. We must ask clarifying questions and think of the results of what we say. What we say must be filled with assurance, understanding, encouragement, and love. What a difference there will be if we do this for our boys. What a change there will be for them and for us, our communities, our world. For some helpful tips that teachers can use are found in this article, click here.click here

Until next time. Remember to purchase a copy of my bestselling book: DEFEATING THE ENEMY TO YOUR SUCCESS –How to Break Through to a Life of Wealth Creation and Freedom.


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It Feels Like Everybody is Against Me

Have you ever been at a point in your life where you felt that nothing was going right simply because everyone was against you? As irrational as that may seem, the way the feeling is explained by some who felt that way is that it seems that while others around them got a break or two for doing wrong things, they never seem to qualify for a break. One boy said< "that really hurts; it hurts a lot".

The thing is that, unless one has the capacity to empathize with that feeling, there could very easily be the thought that boys who act out because they feel that everyone is against them, are just weaklings who are incapable of coping with the contours of life. They do not have what it takes to survive and that is their problem. Have you ever dismissed someone's behaviour even though you did not know what caused it? I think a lot of us do just that. How often do we take the time to ask the appropriate questions that could better inform our thinking and hence our responses?

I believe that we can all agree that there are people who do not know why they never get breaks. Getting a break is for most people a bid deal. Imagine you were speeding, got stopped by the police who proceeded to walk back to the police vehicle with the seeming intention to write up a ticket. As he returned, you heard, "I'm giving you a break this time, but be careful to drive at the speed limit". Wouldn't your fast beating heart slow down and you breathe a sigh of relief? You can share a positive story with your family and friends, and you would think nicely of the officer. You see, unlike many things, getting a break is a bid deal and when there are those who never seem to have that kind of experience, it can be very frustrating and feel like, "everybody is against them".

I've come across scores of boys who tell me that they don't understand why they always seem to be on the wrong side of authorities, be they parents or teachers, and worse yet, the police. As a school principal, I relished the opportunity to give a child who seemed to be constantly "in trouble" a break. Very often such children took the act of forgiveness as a launching point to exhibit better behaviour. It brings me to the other point of this discussion, the act of forgiveness. To forgive is to take the sting out of any unpleasant experience. Forgiveness benefits both the person receiving forgiveness and the person giving it. Both persons receive a measure of wellness. And to forgive is not letting someone get away with wrong. What is does really is giving the offender a path to wholeness.

What I am saying is that we must invest in forgiveness more than we do condemning. Let's give our boys hope that things will get better. Give them a break here and there. After all, they are in construction and if you realize a construction site, it's really very messy during the building stage. But, when the building is finished, when everything is cleaned up, what a marvelous sight!

There is marvel within our boys. The construction state is often messy, but, let's understand the process and work with them. Stand where they stand. Sit where they sit. Listen to them and hear them out. They have marvelous designs within them. Now it's left for us to lead out those wonderful designs. Let's do it for them and for us.

Until next time. For more ideas to help us train our boy, get a copy of my blueprint for success book: DEFEATING THE ENEMY TO YOUR SUCCESS — How to Break Through to a Life of Wealth Creation and Freedom. Get your copy, now!


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Tell Your Boys That You Love Them

“Always be thankful for what you have and tell your loved ones that you love them every single day because you can never predict when your life you’ve always known can be taken away from you”.

These were the words of a man after being released from prison. He was tried and found guilty for a crime that he did not commit. At age 19, his life was suddenly changed when he was picked from a lineup as the person who had committed the crime under investigation. I could only imagine, how his parents felt to know that their son, their teenage son, their promise, would no longer be able to pursue the dreams that he had.

This might be a good time, to get you son or sons and express to them how much you love them and how much you support them. Because the odds are so much against them, the work to preserve them must be greater. The hedge of protection must be thicker and higher to prevent the dangers that lurk along their path.

I cannot imagine losing my son for something that he did, much more for something that he did not do. Yet, that is the reality of tens of thousands of teenage boys in many North American cities.

It’s time to stem this storm. Time to end this cycle so that our boys can have a chance at growing into their God- ordained destiny. It is rare for a child to survive the rigours of life on his own. It is tough to see that in a land of so much that so little is happening to ensure that all boys are given the care and attention they need to grow up and make a positive contribution to the world. We sent people to the moon. We go into the outer reaches of space. Attempts are underway to visit other planets. We build machines to simplify and speed up production of various kinds. But, we neglect members of our human family. We categorize and attach grotesque labels to groups for selfish and other nefarious reasons.

It may take more time for the unmasking of our true selves so that we can face up to the disturbing results of our selfishness and account for the damage done to our children. It is our duty to love, defend, protect, and provide for the best future our children can have. Since we cannot predict the future, and they cannot grow without us, let us, at least, be there to show them our love. So, tell them; tell them often that you love them and that you are proud of them. You are proud of all of them; everything about them — mistakes and all. Know that the greatest gift that you can give to your boys is your love.

Here’s some homework for you: Acknowledge and celebrate your children, especially your boys. Surprise them with something they love.

Until next time. Please like my posts and share with your friends. Thanks.

For more ideas and tips on achieving success in parenting, get a copy of my book: DEFEATING THE ENEMY TO YOUR SUCCESS — How to Break Through to a Life of Wealth Creation and Freedom.


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Sir, You Talk to Us!

A few years ago, I signed up to teach summer school with the Toronto District School Board. My students were pursuing their Grade 11 credit. Some of them did not make it in the regular semester, while others were “fast tracking” — getting ahead with additional credits. The opportunity to teach during the summer break was not only lucrative, but, it allowed me to support students who may have fallen to bad times during the regular school semester. I always like the challenge of helping others who experience difficulty.

When students have free time, they often talk about the things that are interesting to them. Things that have profound effects on their lives. The kind of conversations they engage in at this time is usually real to them and they often talk freely, that is, if they know no one who shouldn’t be listening is hearing their heart-felt stories. I was with a group of students during the break and they engaged me in conversation. I did as much as I could to provide candid answers to their questions. Whatever they found in my answers encouraged them to ask questions without relenting. I cannot forget to this day what I saw in the question of one student who asked: “Sir, which school do you teach during the regular semester”? I responded by asking the student why she wanted to know where I taught. She replied, “Because I wish you can teach at my school”. My well prepared response was: “Why should you have me twice, when others have not had me once”! We all laughed. I contemplated the question and realized what students may be missing in their regular schooling.

What I did with all students, no matter their age, was to give them information that could last them a lifetime. To speak to me was to receive some word or encouragement that can be of help now and in the future. I realized that the Grade 11 students that I taught during summer school, these and others, like to hear stories. Stories about life. Stories about real life as a little child, life as a teenager, life as an adult. I recognized that for many teenage students, there is a wonder about the reality of their lives. They seem to wonder if it is okay that they make mistakes. In fact, some of the students told me that their parents appear not to have done anything wrong. They seem not to have made any of the kinds of mistakes that they were making. So, to some extent, they felt like they were “crazy” or that something sinister was happening to them.

Somehow, the way I presented life to them gave them some hope. When they realized that I too, as a teenager, made mistakes, they realized how normal they were. They began to relax and release the stress the suppressed their effort and stall their drive. Yes, they realized that their seeming “crazy” behaviour was very normal behaviour. Their moodiness, their grumpiness, their occasional angry outbursts at friends, teachers, or their parents; had everything to do with the normal course of life. The normal course of growing through the teen years. When a student said to me “Sir, you talk to us”. I wondered if there was a wall between them and their teachers during the regular semester.

talk

You see, more than you know, teenagers want to have conversations. They want to ask questions. In as much as they may suggest to know it all, they are usually longing for grown-ups, indeed, for parents to engage them in conversation. Accept it! Teenagers, what do they know? If they should know anything, from whom would you like them to learn? Certainly not from the streets. You, the parent must step into the gap and communicate with them. There is much to learn at this critical time in their lives. It would be regrettable to let them grow through their teen years without the wisdom of your life experience from which to guide their own. A parent can provide for a child what no other person can give. Make sure you talk with your teenage child or children. You don’t want to say, sometime later, “I wish I had done this or I wish I had done that”. This is the time to determine what you will say 20 years from today, so say it and do so with a lot of love.

Until next time, let’s talk to our teens.
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