Learn by happiness, not by pressure
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Learn from happiness, not by pressure
The politicians here in Sweden are worried, the Swedish
students results in the PISA tests (Programme for International
Student Assessment) are not approving, right now Sweden is low
down on the list. Everybody knows that we need to change
something in the way Swedish schools are structured. We look up
to the high-scoring country South Korea, and trying to understand
what they are doing right, and what we are missing. But are they
good role models? Is their way of teaching the right way to
I'm a Swedish student, grown and raised here in Sweden. One thing that really marked me all my life is the thought of self-independence. We learn from a young age that we need to have our own way of thinking, that our independence is important. Both my parents and my teachers have always told me that.
Learn with your heart
In my childhood my father told me that learning should be about joy and curiosity, and that has really helped me all my life. It is something that I strongly believe in. That’s why I get upset with how they are trying to change the Swedish school system.
A couple of years back we could heard on the news about students' bad grades, and this year’s PISA results showed that Sweden’s rank had dropped. The politicians are trying to understand why, and what they could change in the education system to improve the grades. They are using South Korea as a good example.
The South Korean wonder child
South Korea is best in PISA. They are scoring high in almost every subject. Many people trying to understand how they could have such big of a success. It's a combination of many things. The first is that education is extremely important to survive in South Korea (more than in Sweden). The students with the highest grades are getting into the best university, and the people from the best university are going to get the best jobs. One other thing, different from Sweden, is that in South Korea, the youngsters of the family are expected to support the rest of the family with money when they get a job. This is putting students under a lot pressure, not just from themselves, but also from their parents and society. If you do not manage to get good grades, people look down on you. I can't say that this is the situation for everyone in Korea but overall it is like this.
South Korean students have crazy long days, they can start school at eight AM, and end around five PM. After school they often take extra study classes in special subjects like math, and they don’t come home before around 10 PM or later. Everything they do in school is leading up to this one big test at the end of high school. It’s the most important test of their life, and it’s the test that decides which university they can go to. That’s why almost all of the education is structured with a teacher in the front of the class, that’s speaking, and the students are expected to take notes. There isn’t much of an interaction between the pupils and the teacher.
This school system is actually working on the tests, but what is happening with the head of the students? South Korea has the highest rate of suicide cases among high school students in the whole world. Isn’t this a sign that something is wrong? My opinion is that, we here in Sweden, have something that South Korea would need.
Keep our students happy
Other tests shows that Swedish students are really good at speaking, and to take our own solutions. This is a really good thing to have when you search for a job. For me, communication is one of the most important skills that you could have. But Sweden is getting away from this.
Now the pupils in Sweden start to receive grades when they are 12 years old. If you ask me, this is too young. I received my first grade when I was 14 and that was the perfect time. I was old enough to understand that the grades aren’t the same as being a good or a bad person. But it was there, when the grades became the goal in school, my school pressure started. I don’t think that it’s going to do anyone any good if they get this in a younger age. They will focus more on the tests and grades, than actually learning something.
I believe in the same thing as my father. We need to learn with curiosity. I'm afraid that we will destroy the children’s joy to learn, by pressuring them more in school. We know that this way of teaching is working on tests (like in South Korea), but also that the physical health of the students is getting worse because due to pressure. I don’t want a world where everything is about grades and money. A world with young people who feel bad because of a school system that we all created. I want happiness, curiosity and independence, a place where learning is something fun. This would be our goal in the future. Don’t you agree?