D7 : High Cost of Low Trust: What Can We Learn From The Finns?

High Cost of Low Trust in the
Preschool Sector:
What can We Learn from the Finns?
Dr. Trisha Craig
Executive Director, Wheelock College Singapore
Early Childhood Conference 2013
The rise of global rankings
S Policy Diffusion: Policy makers look to other
countries and ask: How are we doing?
S Increased scrutiny by public and policy makers
S In Education:
S PISA tests: secondary school
S THE and Shanghai rankings: university
France, Netherlands, Singapore
Starting Well report: preschool
Policy Imports
S The role of culture
S What to consider when ‘borrowing policy’
S The case of Finland and its preschools: why so appealing?
Starting Well Report
1. Finland
2. Sweden
3. Norway
4. UK
5. Belgium
6. Denmark
19. Hong Kong
24. USA
29. Singapore
36. Malaysia
44. Indonesia
45. India
Clear dominance of the
Nordic Welfare States
What explains their success?
S Wealth effect: richer countries do better in general
S Measurables
S High Teacher pupil ratio
S Well-trained teachers
S Effective subsidies
S Parental involvement
S Well-defined curriculum
What about the nonmeasurables?
S The role of trust
S Pasi Salhberg (Finnish Lessons) has emphasized its importance
in explaining Finland’s success
S Social Capital
S Francis Fukuyama
S Robert Putnam
Social Capital
S Scholars realized there is more to explaining how societies
function and how class systems and hierarchies function
than economic capital alone.
S Economic capital
S Cultural capital
S Social capital
Links with health and mortality outcomes, educational outcomes
Measuring social capital
Legatum Prosperity Index
Measure of Prosperity constructed from Economic
variables but also social capital.
On pure economic measures, Switzerland (#1),
Nordic countries do well (Norway #2; Sweden
#5) as do Singapore (3#) and Malaysia (#15),
even ahead of Finland (#16)
But SE Asia and Nordic countries diverge on
social capital: Nordic countries top the charts Norway and Denmark at #1 and #2 with Finland
close at # 5 but Singapore (#39) and Malaysia
(#100) fall off a cliff.
Social capital and early
childhood quality
Combining the data from Lien
Foundation and Legatum Institute
shows a surprise:
Economic prosperity linked to
ECE quality: on the whole, richer
countries to better
Even stronger association between
social capital and ECE quality
Correlation between Economic
performanc and ECE quality
Correlation between Social Capital
and ECE quality:
Why is trust low in
Singapore?Views from the
S “The number of parents hiring tutors and private learning centers
for their children shows how much trust (or rather lack of trust)
they have for MOE's schools and curriculum.” Parenting blog
S “Some private childcare will do better because they still need to
make a living and have some profit and must keep the customers
happy” Online comment to a STN article
S “The differences in quality among the preschools are too huge
now. A parent who wants to send the child to a quality preschool
has to fork out a lot of money to do so, and even then, this is
subject to the availability of spaces.” Respondent of online Lien
Foundation survey
Why is trust low in
Singapore?Your Views
S Why?
S What can we do to start to change
Why is trust so high in Finland?
Virtuous circle of competence
S http://pennfinn13.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/the-voice-
S Finnish teachers come from the top 10% of university
graduates and teaching is routinely chosen as a career over
law and medicine by high performing students. In addition,
there is “high working morale” in schools as a result of time
for collaboration and great support from school leaders:
What does high trust in the
preschool sector look like?
S Everyday conversations
S Parent/ Teacher discussions
S Jointly developed plan for the child’s preschool education
S Parents’ committee
S In Finland, cooperation with parents is enshrined in The Basic
Education Act, which states that “those providing education
(including pre-primary education) shall co-operate with children’s
S Leads to a lack of anxiety when all schools are seen as (and are)
just as good as and equivalent as any other.
Finland’s early education plan
S An individual plan is created for each child
S Parents, teachers and child work together to devise the plan.
S The plan takes into consideration the child's interests as
well as the goals of his/her personal growth and
S Done at the city level (reinforcing the idea that all schools
are the same.)
The contents of the plan
S Child’s input
S Info on:
S Child’s wellbeing and daily routine
S Emotional life and social interactions
S Learning and work skills
S Language and linguistic skills
S Mathematical skills
S Playing
S Physical skills and coordination
S Ethical, religious, cultural education
S For all, the child’s strengths are noted, areas where they decide
child need encouragement and what kind, an action plan is then
agreed to for home and school that will be mutually reinforcing
Leadership: Creating Trust in
Low Trust Societies
Finnish example shows the
system is built on a foundation of
Parents and families not seen as
Partners who work together to
education the young; children
included in partnership:
individual academic plan
How can we begin to build trust
where it doesn’t already exist
Child’s Self-Assessment Aeroplane
Courtesy City of Vantaa, Finland
Leadership: systemic level
S Teacher training is key
S Raise standards and requirements for classroom teachers
S Set goals and benchmarks, i.e. SPARK
S Raise professionalism of teachers
S Foundation for parents to trust the teachers: belief in their
Training institutions: preservice
and CPD focus
S Much greater focus needed on Communication Skills
S Active listening strategies:
S Asking the right questions,
S Learning to express true empathy and genuine interest
S Paraphrasing and repeating back comments to ensure agreement
about what is being said
S Multiple and sometimes novel ways of constant communication:
electronic portfolios, texts, twitter
S Figure out what you want to communicate
School leadership
S Need more and better mentoring by senior teachers and
principals on helping young teachers build communication
and collaboration skills with families
S Break down language barriers: have translators when
language is an issue
S Written communication
Classroom leadership
S Enacting cultural markers
S Involving parents to support lesson plans
S Maintain home-school connexion
S Share the point and learning goals of lesson plans
S Follow up with suggestions for support at home
S Find out where parents need support
S Engage mentors when don’t know the answer to problems
Group activity
S Identify some of the obstacles you would face in your daily
practice to implementing some of these.
S Are there ways to overcome them?
S Are there ways to transform them to be more appropriate to the
Singaporean context?
S Then
S Take a specific example of a lesson or activity that you are or will
do in your class. How will you communicate to the parents the
content and your goals for the children with this lesson? How will
you show the parents what the child has accomplished? How will
you suggest to parents what they can do to support or further the
learning goals at home?
Thank you!

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