BY JACK EDWARD NICHOLS
I like the fact that they dedicate many of their most competent people to educating even young children, but if you raised the bar that high in the UK, I think you’d just get a shortage of teachers because our culture simply doesn’t place the same level of status on the role of teacher as theirs does. I also like that they put the teachers in a more active role in the curriculum, but then again, maybe the reason why they can do that is that they have such competent teachers.
There are many things I like about their model of teaching, but I’m not sure to what extent the success of their education system is due to the model itself or other factors, such as the functioning of the economy or the cultural factors. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve laid the necessary groundwork to adopt all of the educational policies we admire in the Scandinavian systems, which may work excellently when all the children in the class have a cultural respect for authority, highly supportive parents and grow up in a safe environment.
Another perspective on this is that there may not be one single template that works for all countries and cultures. Unlike in Scandinavia, the private school system in the UK is a significant part of our culture, not to mention the fact that it’s a magnet for rich foreigners, who love to send their children to English private schools. I don’t think this is in any way opposed to the vital and exciting prospect of providing a consistently excellent system for the majority of children and teenagers in the UK receiving state education – which included me.
We would be wise to take inspiration from such an excellent school system, but key to improving our system is not to copy them mindlessly. Improvements to the education system must and will occur organically, according to our own ideals, and in the context of wider improvement in the functioning of our society at large.