Finland went through three phases of educational change since the 1980's. The first, and the one that Pasi Sahlberg identifies as "foundational," dealt with rethinking the theoretical and methodological foundation of schooling. Out of this came the belief that the role of public education was to educate citizens to thinking critically and independently. Sahlberg states that questions like, "How do schools change?," "What is knowledge?," and "How do pupils learn?," were common themes for discussion at teacher inservice and school improvement meetings.
I think that is a profound component missing from U.S. schools and why we aren't seeing systemic improvement. We haven't had those discussions.
In my teacher trainings so far, we haven't gotten near to any of these ideas. It has largely remained in the realm of superficial topics like curriculum delivery and our discipline policy. We have singularly dealt with the "how" before addressing the "why."
I think this insight can even be applied to an individual school site. Our staff meetings feel unproductive and uninspiring. It may be because we, as a staff, have not established the foundational educational philosophy that determines our actions in the classroom and school policy. We are unknowingly acting in the assumption of those answers.
Pasi goes onto cite another educator, Eno Lehtinen, who says that the Finnish discussions around conceptions of knowledge and learning "[were] reflect[ed] in implementation of the new curriculum in the mid-1990's at all levels of schooling, and also in the national curriculum reforms in this new decade." Establishing a philosophical consensus amongst teachers in regards to these ideas seems to be a foundation for other educational decisions like curriculum, discipline, technology use, etc. We jump to those questions without have a common group-established framework for answering them. That possibly is what leads to teachers feeling disenfranchised from their leadership, a feeling I'm realizing is common.
I want these conversations to happen.