Source : http://9gag.com/gag/a2NLOD1
Image source: http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/a2NLOD1_700b_v1.jpg
Source : http://9gag.com/gag/a2NLOD1
Image source: http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/a2NLOD1_700b_v1.jpg
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian
Society of Pediatrics state infants aged 0-2 years should
not have any exposure to technology, 3-5 years be
restricted to one hour per day, and 6-18 years restricted
to 2 hours per day (AAP 2001/13, CPS 2010). Children
and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of
technology, with serious and often life threatening
consequences (Kaiser Foundation 2010, Active Healthy
Kids Canada 2012). Handheld devices (cell phones,
tablets, electronic games) have dramatically increased
the accessibility and usage of technology, especially by
very young children (Common Sense Media, 2013). As a
pediatric occupational therapist, I’m calling on parents,
teachers and governments to ban the use of all
handheld devices for children under the age of 12 years.
Following are 10 research-based reasons for this ban.
Please visit zonein.ca to view the Zone’in Fact Sheet for
1. Rapid brain growth Between 0 and 2 years, infant’s
brains triple in size, and continue in a state of rapid
development to 21 years of age (Christakis 2011). Early
brain development is determined by environmental
stimuli, or lack thereof. Stimulation to a developing
brain caused by overexposure to technologies (cell
phones, internet, iPads, TV), has been shown to be
associated with executive functioning and attention
deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased
impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate, e.g.
tantrums (Small 2008, Pagini 2010).
2. Delayed Development Technology use restricts
movement, which can result in delayed development.
One in three children now enter school developmentally
delayed, negatively impacting literacy and academic
achievement (HELP EDI Maps 2013). Movement
enhances attention and learning ability (Ratey 2008).
Use of technology under the age of 12 years is
detrimental to child development and learning (Rowan
3. Epidemic Obesity TV and video game use correlates
with increased obesity (Tremblay 2005). Children who
are allowed a device in their bedrooms have 30%
increased incidence of obesity (Feng 2011). One in four
Canadian, and one in three U.S. children are obese
(Tremblay 2011). 30% of children with obesity will
develop diabetes, and obese individuals are at higher
risk for early stroke and heart attack, gravely
shortening life expectancy (Center for Disease Control
and Prevention 2010). Largely due to obesity, 21st
century children may be the first generation many of
whom will not outlive their parents (Professor Andrew
Prentice, BBC News 2002).
4. Sleep Deprivation 60% of parents do not supervise
their child’s technology usage, and 75% of children are
allowed technology in their bedrooms (Kaiser
Foundation 2010). 75% of children aged 9 and 10 years
are sleep deprived to the extent that their grades are
detrimentally impacted (Boston College 2012).
5. Mental Illness Technology overuse is implicated as a
causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety,
attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar
disorder, psychosis and problematic child behavior
(Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011,
Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008). One in six Canadian
children have a diagnosed mental illness, many of
whom are on dangerous psychotropic medication
6. Aggression Violent media content can cause child
aggression (Anderson, 2007). Young children are
increasingly exposed to rising incidence of physical and
sexual violence in today’s media. “Grand Theft Auto V”
portrays explicit sex, murder, rape, torture and
mutilation, as do many movies and TV shows. The U.S.
has categorized media violence as a Public Health Risk
due to causal impact on child aggression (Huesmann
2007). Media reports increased use of restraints and
seclusion rooms with children who exhibit uncontrolled
7. Digital dementia High speed media content can
contribute to attention deficit, as well as decreased
concentration and memory, due to the brain pruning
neuronal tracks to the frontal cortex (Christakis 2004,
Small 2008). Children who can’t pay attention can’t
8. Addictions As parents attach more and more to
technology, they are detaching from their children. In
the absence of parental attachment, detached children
can attach to devices, which can result in addiction
(Rowan 2010). One in 11 children aged 8-18 years are
addicted to technology (Gentile 2009).
9. Radiation emission In May of 2011, the World Health
Organization classified cell phones (and other wireless
devices) as a category 2B risk (possible carcinogen) due
to radiation emission (WHO 2011). James McNamee with
Health Canada in October of 2011 issued a cautionary
warning stating “Children are more sensitive to a variety
of agents than adults as their brains and immune
systems are still developing, so you can’t say the risk
would be equal for a small adult as for a child.” ( Globe
and Mail 2011). In December, 2013 Dr. Anthony Miller
from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health
recommend that based on new research, radio
frequency exposure should be reclassified as a 2A
(probable carcinogen), not a 2B (possible carcinogen).
American Academy of Pediatrics requested review of
EMF radiation emissions from technology devices, citing
three reasons regarding impact on children (AAP 2013).
10. Unsustainable The ways in which children are
raised and educated with technology are no longer
sustainable (Rowan 2010). Children are our future, but
there is no future for children who overuse technology.
A team-based approach is necessary and urgent in
order to reduce the use of technology by children.
Please reference below slide shows on http://www.zonein.ca
under “videos” to share with others who are concerned
about technology overuse by children.
Problems – Suffer the Children – 4 minutes Solutions –
Balanced Technology Management – 7 minutes
The following Technology Use Guidelines for children
and youth were developed by Cris Rowan, pediatric
occupational therapist and author of Virtual Child ; Dr.
Andrew Doan, neuroscientist and author of Hooked on
Games ; and Dr. Hilarie Cash, Director of reSTART
Internet Addiction Recovery Program and author of
Video Games and Your Kids, with contribution from the
American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian
Pediatric Society in an effort to ensure sustainable
futures for all children.
Having graduated from Harvard Business School in 1991, long before the 2001 collapse of Enron or the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, I was unsurprisingly educated with a far greater weight given to skills and academic knowledge, rather than values, vision and personal mission.
Time proved that Harvard’s priorities were upside down. I’ve been in business for over 30 years and in my experience “intangibles” like character, philosophy and entrepreneurial spirit are always more important than “tangibles” like skill-sets and knowledge.
That was why I made a course designed to help students think deeply about their own values, and identify their personal mission when I set up a business school in Japan in 1992.
That’s also why the course — despite its name of “entrepreneurial leadership”—features only a single business leader: Konosuke Matsushita (1894-1989), visionary founder of electronics giant Panasonic.
You’ve got to admit that many of the most inspiring examples of leadership come from outside the business world. The way Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton managed to bring all the men on his 1914 expedition safely home—despite losing his ship, drifting on ice floes for months and traveling hundreds of miles through stormy seas in a lifeboat—teaches unforgettable lessons about leadership in crisis.
The life of Nelson Mandela — specifically the story of how he helped raise a sense of national unity in post-apartheid South Africa by getting everyone, regardless of color, to support the country’s all-white rugby team, when South Africa was host of the 1995 Rugby World Cup — is a great way to learn about leadership in a time of change.
We also take time to explore the Japanese spirit as it applies to values, philosophy and so on. Here, the key text is Nitobe Inazo’s Bushido, the Soul of Japan, published in 1905.
For Inazo, bushido came from four main sources: Buddhism (teaching “calm trust in
Fate”); Shintoism (teaching loyalty, patriotism and self-knowledge); Confucianism (teaching respect for hierarchy); and the philosophy of Wan Yan Ming (teaching the idea that thought and action should be consistent).
The result, he claimed, was a people with six “pervading characteristics”: a sense of justice, courage, benevolence, politeness, sincerity and self-control.
Samurai education was primarily about “building character”: money is not a good of itself; all of us have obligations to societies other than ourselves.
One way that GLOBIS helps our MBA students define their personal mission and values is through teaching the concept of kokorozashi. Written by combining the characters for samurai (士) and heart (心), kokorozashi (志) means “ambition, but” in the bushido sense of “Personal vision”.
This notion of taking a more high-minded, unselfish approach is something our international MBA students like a lot. See what Jose Miguel Herrera, a Mexican student who has just graduated in 2013 had to say when I asked him what the kokorozashi concept had done for him.
I originally associated an MBA with ideas such as climbing the corporate ladder or becoming a successful entrepreneur. In both cases the goal was to become wealthy, achieve financial freedom and create a personal legacy.
Learning about kokorozashi helped me redefine the concept of an MBA. Getting an MBA is not just about accessing tools and networks to define a strategy for financial success. It is a moment to define a bigger purpose for all your goals and ambitions.
The kokorozashi concept helped me rediscover my personal core values. It reminded me that financial freedom is only the first step. Great ambitions require great inspirations and a personal mission. Personal mission is not just about what we get, but also about how we give back. It is about how to be successful enough to create real positive change in society.
I am proud that we’ve had it in place ever since our MBA course started.
I personally feel that the tremendous energy will arise from within, if you know what your Kokorozashi (personal vision) in life is. In other words, if you are pursuing Kokorozashi, no matter what hardship you may encounter, you have the energy to overcome it.
With this belief, I am pursuing to create No.1 business school in Asia. This teaching has also pushed our alumni and students to act when Japan encountered difficulties in coping with Great Earthquake and Tsunami. One of the example can be found in my former article on Hiroki Iwasa.
Our alumni are all living their own lives, not other peoples’ lives.
“Nothing is more loathsome to the samurai than underhand dealings or crooked undertakings,” wrote Inazo in his old-fashioned English. What would the motto of the modern samurai be then? Our educational principle is set up
To develop visionary leaders who create and innovate societies.
“Bushido” and “Kokorozahi” as a core of MBA program, may sound strange, but leadership is all about vision, mission, values, character and spirits.
It would be good for the world to have such a totally different business school as GLOBIS, wouldn’t it?
It was the end of term at Kirkkojarvi Comprehensive School in Espoo, a sprawling suburb west of Helsinki, when Kari Louhivuori, a veteran teacher and the school’s principal, decided to try something extreme—by Finnish standards. One of his sixth-grade students, a Kosovo-Albanian boy, had drifted far off the learning grid, resisting his teacher’s best efforts. The school’s team of special educators—including a social worker, a nurse and a psychologist—convinced Louhivuori that laziness was not to blame. So he decided to hold the boy back a year, a measure so rare in Finland it’s practically obsolete.
Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade in large part because its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around. This 13-year-old, Besart Kabashi, received something akin to royal tutoring.
“I took Besart on that year as my private student,” Louhivuori told me in his office, which boasted a Beatles “Yellow Submarine” poster on the wall and an electric guitar in the closet. When Besart was not studying science, geography and math, he was parked next to Louhivuori’s desk at the front of his class of 9- and 10-year- olds, cracking open books from a tall stack, slowly reading one, then another, then devouring them by the dozens. By the end of the year, the son of Kosovo war refugees had conquered his adopted country’s vowel-rich language and arrived at the realization that he could, in fact, learn.
Years later, a 20-year-old Besart showed up at Kirkkojarvi’s Christmas party with a bottle of Cognac and a big grin. “You helped me,” he told his former teacher. Besart had opened his own car repair firm and a cleaning company. “No big fuss,” Louhivuori told me. “This is what we do every day, prepare kids for life.”
This tale of a single rescued child hints at some of the reasons for the tiny Nordic nation’s staggering record of education success, a phenomenon that has inspired, baffled and even irked many of America’s parents and educators. Finnish schooling became an unlikely hot topic after the 2010 documentary film Waiting for “Superman” contrasted it with America’s troubled public schools.
“Whatever it takes” is an attitude that drives not just Kirkkojarvi’s 30 teachers, but most of Finland’s 62,000 educators in 3,500 schools from Lapland to Turku—professionals selected from the top 10 percent of the nation’s graduates to earn a required master’s degree in education. Many schools are small enough so that teachers know every student. If one method fails, teachers consult with colleagues to try something else. They seem to relish the challenges. Nearly 30 percent of Finland’s children receive some kind of special help during their first nine years of school. The school where Louhivuori teaches served 240 first through ninth graders last year; and in contrast with Finland’s reputation for ethnic homogeneity, more than half of its 150 elementary-level students are immigrants—from Somalia, Iraq, Russia, Bangladesh, Estonia and Ethiopia, among other nations. “Children from wealthy families with lots of education can be taught by stupid teachers,” Louhivuori said, smiling. “We try to catch the weak students. It’s deep in our thinking.”
The transformation of the Finns’ education system began some 40 years ago as the key propellent of the country’s economic recovery plan. Educators had little idea it was so successful until 2000, when the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues, revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science. In the 2009 PISA scores released last year, the nation came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide. “I’m still surprised,” said Arjariita Heikkinen, principal of a Helsinki comprehensive school. “I didn’t realize we were that good.”
In the United States, which has muddled along in the middle for the past decade, government officials have attempted to introduce marketplace competition into public schools. In recent years, a group of Wall Street financiers and philanthropists such as Bill Gates have put money behind private-sector ideas, such as vouchers, data-driven curriculum and charter schools, which have doubled in number in the past decade. President Obama, too, has apparently bet on competition. His Race to the Top initiative invites states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers, a philosophy that would not fly in Finland. “I think, in fact, teachers would tear off their shirts,” said Timo Heikkinen, a Helsinki principal with 24 years of teaching experience. “If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.”
There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.
Ninety-three percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66 percent go on to higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends about 30 percent less per student than the United States.
Still, there is a distinct absence of chest-thumping among the famously reticent Finns. They are eager to celebrate their recent world hockey championship, but PISA scores, not so much. “We prepare children to learn how to learn, not how to take a test,” said Pasi Sahlberg, a former math and physics teacher who is now in Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture. “We are not much interested in PISA. It’s not what we are about.”
Maija Rintola stood before her chattering class of twenty-three 7- and 8-year-olds one late April day in Kirkkojarven Koulu. A tangle of multicolored threads topped her copper hair like a painted wig. The 20-year teacher was trying out her look for Vappu, the day teachers and children come to school in riotous costumes to celebrate May Day. The morning sun poured through the slate and lemon linen shades onto containers of Easter grass growing on the wooden sills. Rintola smiled and held up her open hand at a slant—her time-tested “silent giraffe,” which signaled the kids to be quiet. Little hats, coats, shoes stowed in their cubbies, the children wiggled next to their desks in their stocking feet, waiting for a turn to tell their tale from the playground. They had just returned from their regular 15 minutes of playtime outdoors between lessons. “Play is important at this age,” Rintola would later say. “We value play.”
With their wiggles unwound, the students took from their desks little bags of buttons, beans and laminated cards numbered 1 through 20. A teacher’s aide passed around yellow strips representing units of ten. At a smart board at the front of the room, Rintola ushered the class through the principles of base ten. One girl wore cat ears on her head, for no apparent reason. Another kept a stuffed mouse on her desk to remind her of home. Rintola roamed the room helping each child grasp the concepts. Those who finished early played an advanced “nut puzzle” game. After 40 minutes it was time for a hot lunch in the cathedral-like cafeteria.
Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and assess their students. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”
It’s almost unheard of for a child to show up hungry or homeless. Finland provides three years of maternity leave and subsidized day care to parents, and preschool for all 5-year-olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing. In addition, the state subsidizes parents, paying them around 150 euros per month for every child until he or she turns 17. Ninety-seven percent of 6-year-olds attend public preschool, where children begin some academics. Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Student health care is free.
Even so, Rintola said her children arrived last August miles apart in reading and language levels. By April, nearly every child in the class was reading, and most were writing. Boys had been coaxed into literature with books like Kapteeni Kalsarin (“Captain Underpants”). The school’s special education teacher teamed up with Rintola to teach five children with a variety of behavioral and learning problems. The national goal for the past five years has been to mainstream all children. The only time Rintola’s children are pulled out is for Finnish as a Second Language classes, taught by a teacher with 30 years’ experience and graduate school training.
There are exceptions, though, however rare. One first-grade girl was not in Rintola’s class. The wispy 7-year-old had recently arrived from Thailand speaking not a word of Finnish. She was studying math down the hall in a special “preparing class” taught by an expert in multicultural learning. It is designed to help children keep up with their subjects while they conquer the language. Kirkkojarvi’s teachers have learned to deal with their unusually large number of immigrant students. The city of Espoo helps them out with an extra 82,000 euros a year in “positive discrimination” funds to pay for things like special resource teachers, counselors and six special needs classes.
Rintola will teach the same children next year and possibly the next five years, depending on the needs of the school. “It’s a good system. I can make strong connections with the children,” said Rintola, who was handpicked by Louhivuori 20 years ago. “I understand who they are.” Besides Finnish, math and science, the first graders take music, art, sports, religion and textile handcrafts. English begins in third grade, Swedish in fourth. By fifth grade the children have added biology, geography, history, physics and chemistry.
Not until sixth grade will kids have the option to sit for a district-wide exam, and then only if the classroom teacher agrees to participate. Most do, out of curiosity. Results are not publicized. Finnish educators have a hard time understanding the United States’ fascination with standardized tests. “Americans like all these bars and graphs and colored charts,” Louhivuori teased, as he rummaged through his closet looking for past years’ results. “Looks like we did better than average two years ago,” he said after he found the reports. “It’s nonsense. We know much more about the children than these tests can tell us.”
I had come to Kirkkojarvi to see how the Finnish approach works with students who are not stereotypically blond, blue-eyed and Lutheran. But I wondered if Kirkkojarvi’s success against the odds might be a fluke. Some of the more vocal conservative reformers in America have grown weary of the “We-Love-Finland crowd” or so-called Finnish Envy. They argue that the United States has little to learn from a country of only 5.4 million people—4 percent of them foreign born. Yet the Finns seem to be onto something. Neighboring Norway, a country of similar size, embraces education policies similar to those in the United States. It employs standardized exams and teachers without master’s degrees. And like America, Norway’s PISA scores have been stalled in the middle ranges for the better part of a decade.
To get a second sampling, I headed east from Espoo to Helsinki and a rough neighborhood called Siilitie, Finnish for “Hedgehog Road” and known for having the oldest low-income housing project in Finland. The 50-year-old boxy school building sat in a wooded area, around the corner from a subway stop flanked by gas stations and convenience stores. Half of its 200 first- through ninth-grade students have learning disabilities. All but the most severely impaired are mixed with the general education children, in keeping with Finnish policies.
A class of first graders scampered among nearby pine and birch trees, each holding a stack of the teacher’s homemade laminated “outdoor math” cards. “Find a stick as big as your foot,” one read. “Gather 50 rocks and acorns and lay them out in groups of ten,” read another. Working in teams, the 7- and 8-year-olds raced to see how quickly they could carry out their tasks. Aleksi Gustafsson, whose master’s degree is from Helsinki University, developed the exercise after attending one of the many workshops available free to teachers. “I did research on how useful this is for kids,” he said. “It’s fun for the children to work outside. They really learn with it.”
Gustafsson’s sister, Nana Germeroth, teaches a class of mostly learning-impaired children; Gustafsson’s students have no learning or behavioral issues. The two combined most of their classes this year to mix their ideas and abilities along with the children’s varying levels. “We know each other really well,” said Germeroth, who is ten years older. “I know what Aleksi is thinking.”
The school receives 47,000 euros a year in positive discrimination money to hire aides and special education teachers, who are paid slightly higher salaries than classroom teachers because of their required sixth year of university training and the demands of their jobs. There is one teacher (or assistant) in Siilitie for every seven students.
In another classroom, two special education teachers had come up with a different kind of team teaching. Last year, Kaisa Summa, a teacher with five years’ experience, was having trouble keeping a gaggle of first-grade boys under control. She had looked longingly into Paivi Kangasvieri’s quiet second-grade room next door, wondering what secrets the 25-year-veteran colleague could share. Each had students of wide-ranging abilities and special needs. Summa asked Kangasvieri if they might combine gymnastics classes in hopes good behavior might be contagious. It worked. This year, the two decided to merge for 16 hours a week. “We complement each other,” said Kangasvieri, who describes herself as a calm and firm “father” to Summa’s warm mothering. “It is cooperative teaching at its best,” she says.
Every so often, principal Arjariita Heikkinen told me, the Helsinki district tries to close the school because the surrounding area has fewer and fewer children, only to have people in the community rise up to save it. After all, nearly 100 percent of the school’s ninth graders go on to high schools. Even many of the most severely disabled will find a place in Finland’s expanded system of vocational high schools, which are attended by 43 percent of Finnish high-school students, who prepare to work in restaurants, hospitals, construction sites and offices. “We help situate them in the right high school,” said then deputy principal Anne Roselius. “We are interested in what will become of them in life.”
Finland’s schools were not always a wonder. Until the late 1960s, Finns were still emerging from the cocoon of Soviet influence. Most children left public school after six years. (The rest went to private schools, academic grammar schools or folk schools, which tended to be less rigorous.) Only the privileged or lucky got a quality education.
The landscape changed when Finland began trying to remold its bloody, fractured past into a unified future. For hundreds of years, these fiercely independent people had been wedged between two rival powers—the Swedish monarchy to the west and the Russian czar to the east. Neither Scandinavian nor Baltic, Finns were proud of their Nordic roots and a unique language only they could love (or pronounce). In 1809, Finland was ceded to Russia by the Swedes, who had ruled its people some 600 years. The czar created the Grand Duchy of Finland, a quasi-state with constitutional ties to the empire. He moved the capital from Turku, near Stockholm, to Helsinki, closer to St. Petersburg. After the czar fell to the Bolsheviks in 1917, Finland declared its independence, pitching the country into civil war. Three more wars between 1939 and 1945—two with the Soviets, one with Germany—left the country scarred by bitter divisions and a punishing debt owed to the Russians. “Still we managed to keep our freedom,” said Pasi Sahlberg, a director general in the Ministry of Education and Culture.
In 1963, the Finnish Parlia-ment made the bold decision to choose public education as its best shot at economic recovery. “I call this the Big Dream of Finnish education,” said Sahlberg, whose upcoming book, Finnish Lessons, is scheduled for release in October. “It was simply the idea that every child would have a very good public school. If we want to be competitive, we need to educate everybody. It all came out of a need to survive.”
Practically speaking—and Finns are nothing if not practical—the decision meant that goal would not be allowed to dissipate into rhetoric. Lawmakers landed on a deceptively simple plan that formed the foundation for everything to come. Public schools would be organized into one system of comprehensive schools, or peruskoulu, for ages 7 through 16. Teachers from all over the nation contributed to a national curriculum that provided guidelines, not prescriptions. Besides Finnish and Swedish (the country’s second official language), children would learn a third language (English is a favorite) usually beginning at age 9. Resources were distributed equally. As the comprehensive schools improved, so did the upper secondary schools (grades 10 through 12). The second critical decision came in 1979, when reformers required that every teacher earn a fifth-year master’s degree in theory and practice at one of eight state universities—at state expense. From then on, teachers were effectively granted equal status with doctors and lawyers. Applicants began flooding teaching programs, not because the salaries were so high but because autonomy and respect made the job attractive. In 2010, some 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots, according to Sahlberg. By the mid-1980s, a final set of initiatives shook the classrooms free from the last vestiges of top-down regulation. Control over policies shifted to town councils. The national curriculum was distilled into broad guidelines. National math goals for grades one through nine, for example, were reduced to a neat ten pages. Sifting and sorting children into so-called ability groupings was eliminated. All children—clever or less so—were to be taught in the same classrooms, with lots of special teacher help available to make sure no child really would be left behind. The inspectorate closed its doors in the early ’90s, turning accountability and inspection over to teachers and principals. “We have our own motivation to succeed because we love the work,” said Louhivuori. “Our incentives come from inside.”
To be sure, it was only in the past decade that Finland’s international science scores rose. In fact, the country’s earliest efforts could be called somewhat Stalinistic. The first national curriculum, developed in the early ’70s, weighed in at 700 stultifying pages. Timo Heikkinen, who began teaching in Finland’s public schools in 1980 and is now principal of Kallahti Comprehensive School in eastern Helsinki, remembers when most of his high-school teachers sat at their desks dictating to the open notebooks of compliant children.
And there are still challenges. Finland’s crippling financial collapse in the early ’90s brought fresh economic challenges to this “confident and assertive Eurostate,” as David Kirby calls it in A Concise History of Finland. At the same time, immigrants poured into the country, clustering in low-income housing projects and placing added strain on schools. A recent report by the Academy of Finland warned that some schools in the country’s large cities were becoming more skewed by race and class as affluent, white Finns choose schools with fewer poor, immigrant populations.
A few years ago, Kallahti principal Timo Heikkinen began noticing that, increasingly, affluent Finnish parents, perhaps worried about the rising number of Somali children at Kallahti, began sending their children to one of two other schools nearby. In response, Heikkinen and his teachers designed new environmental science courses that take advantage of the school’s proximity to the forest. And a new biology lab with 3-D technology allows older students to observe blood flowing inside the human body.
It has yet to catch on, Heikkinen admits. Then he added: “But we are always looking for ways to improve.”
In other words, whatever it takes.
My wife and I had 12 children over the course of 15
1/2 years. Today, our oldest is 37 and our youngest
is 22. I have always had a very prosperous job and
enough money to give my kids almost anything. But
my wife and I decided not to.
I will share with you the things that we did, but first
let me tell you the results: All 12 of my children
have college degrees (or are in school), and we as
parents did not pay for it. Most have graduate
degrees. Those who are married have wonderful
spouses with the same ethics and college degrees,
too. We have 18 grandchildren who are learning the
same things that our kids learned—self respect,
gratitude, and a desire to give back to society.
We raised our family in Utah, Florida, and
California; my wife and I now live in Colorado. In
March, we will have been married 40 years. I
attribute the love between us as a part of our
success with the children. They see a stable home
life with a commitment that does not have
Here’s what we did right (we got plenty wrong, too,
but that’s another list):
Kids had to perform chores from age 3. A 3-
year-old does not clean toilets very well but
by the time he is 4, it’s a reasonably good
They got allowances based on how they did
the chores for the week.
We had the children wash their own clothes
by the time they turned 8. We assigned them
a wash day.
When they started reading, they had to make
dinner by reading a recipe. They also had to
learn to double a recipe.
We had study time from 6 to 8pm every
week day. No television, computer, games, or
other activities until the two hours were up.
If they had no homework, then they read
books. For those too young to be in school,
we had someone read books to them. After
the two hours, they could do whatever they
wanted as long as they were in by curfew.
All the kids were required to take every
Advanced Placement class there was. We did
not let entrance scores be an impediment.
We went to the school and demanded our
kids be let in. Then we, as parents, spent the
time to ensure they had the understanding to
pass the class. After the first child, the school
learned that we kept our promise that the
kids could handle the AP classes.
If children would come home and say that a
teacher hated them or was not fair, our
response was that you need to find a way to
get along. You need find a way to learn the
material because in real life, you may have a
boss that does not like you. We would not
enable children to “blame” the teacher for
not learning, but place the responsibility for
learning the material back on the child. Of
course, we were alongside them for two
hours of study a day, for them to ask for
Picky Eaters not Allowed
We all ate dinner and breakfast together.
Breakfast was at 5:15am and then the
children had to do chores before school.
Dinner was at 5:30pm.
More broadly, food was interesting. We
wanted a balanced diet, but hated it when
we were young and parents made us eat all
our food. Sometimes we were full and just
did not want to eat anymore. Our rule was
to give the kids the food they hated most
first (usually vegetables) and then they got
the next type of food. They did not have to
eat it and could leave the table. If later they
complained they were hungry, we would get
out that food they did not want to eat, warm
it up in the microwave, and provide it to
them. Again, they did not have to eat it. But
they got no other food until the next meal
unless they ate it.
We did not have snacks between meals. We
always had the four food groups (meat,
dairy, grain, fruits and vegetables) and
nearly always had dessert of some kind. To
this day, our kids are not afraid to try
different foods, and have no allergies to
foods. They try all kinds of new foods and
eat only until they are full. Not one of our
kids is even a little bit heavy. They are thin,
athletic, and very healthy. With 12 kids, you
would think that at least one would have
some food allergies or food special needs. (I
am not a doctor.)
All kids had to play some kind of sport. They
got to choose, but choosing none was not an
option. We started them in grade school. We
did not care if it was swimming, football,
baseball, fencing, tennis, etc. and did not
care if they chose to change sports. But they
had to play something.
All kids had to be in some kind of club: Boy
Scouts, Girl Scouts, history, drama, etc.
They were required to provide community
service. We would volunteer within our
community and at church. For Eagle Scout
projects, we would have the entire family
help. Once we collected old clothes and took
them to Mexico and passed them out. The
kids saw what life was like for many
families and how their collections made them
so happy and made a difference.
When the kids turned 16, we bought each a
car. The first one learned what that
meant. As the tow truck pulled a once “new”
car into the driveway, my oldest proclaimed:
“Dad, it is a wreck!” I said, “Yes, but a 1965
Mustang fastback wreck. Here are the repair
manuals. Tools are in the garage. I will pay
for every part, but will not pay for LABOR.”
Eleven months later, the car had a rebuilt
engine, rebuilt transmission, newly
upholstered interior, a new suspension
system, and a new coat of paint. My
daughter (yes, it was my daughter) had one
of the hottest cars at high school. And her
pride that she built it was beyond
imaginable. (As a side note, none of my kids
ever got a ticket for speeding, even though
no car had less than 450 horsepower.)
We as parents allowed kids to make
mistakes. Five years before the 16th birthday
and their “new” car gift, they had to help
out with our family cars. Once I asked my
son, Samuel, to change the oil and asked if
he needed help or instruction. “No, Dad, I
can do it.” An hour later, he came in and
said, “Dad, does it take 18 quarts of oil to
change the oil?” I asked where did he put 18
quarts of oil when normally only five were
needed. His response: “That big screw on
top at the front of the engine.” I said “You
mean the radiator?” Well, he did not get into
trouble for filling the radiator with oil. He
had to drain it, we bought a radiator flush,
put in new radiator fluid, and then he had to
change the real oil. We did not ground him
or give him any punishment for doing it
“wrong.” We let the lesson be the teaching
tool. Our children are not afraid to try
something new. They were trained that if
they do something wrong they will not get
punished. It often cost us more money, but
we were raising kids, not saving money.
The kids each got their own computer, but
had to build it. I bought the processor,
memory, power supply, case, keyboard, hard
drive, motherboard, and mouse. They had to
put it together and load the software on. This
started when they were 12.
We let the children make their own choices,
but limited. For example, do you want to go
to bed now or clean your room? Rarely, did
we give directives that were one way, unless
it dealt with living the agreed-upon family
rules. This let the child feel that she had
some control over life.
In it Together
We required the children to help each other.
When a fifth grader is required to read 30
minutes a day, and a first grader is required
to be read to 30 minutes a day, have one sit
next to the other and read. Those in high
school calculus tutored those in algebra or
We assigned an older child to a younger
child to teach them and help them
accomplish their weekly chores.
We let the children be a part of making the
family rules. For example, the kids wanted
the rule that no toys were allowed in the
family room. The toys had to stay either in
the bedroom or playroom. In addition to
their chores, they had to all clean their
bedroom every day (or just keep it clean in
the first place). These were rules that the
children wanted. We gave them a chance
each month to amend or create new rules.
Mom and Dad had veto power of course.
We tried to be always consistent. If they had
to study two hours every night, we did not
make an exception to it. Curfew was 10pm
during school nights and midnight on non-
school nights. There were no exceptions to
We would take family vacations every
summer for two or three weeks. We could
afford a hotel, or cruise, but did not choose
those options. We went camping and
backpacking. If it rained, then we would
figure out how to backpack in the rain and
survive. We would set up a base camp at a
site with five or six tents, and I would take
all kids age 6 or older on a three- to five-day
backpack trip. My wife would stay with the
little ones. Remember, for 15 years, she was
either pregnant or just had a baby. My kids
and I hiked across the Grand Canyon, to the
top of Mount Whitney, across the
Continental Divide, across Yosemite.
We would send kids via airplane to relatives
in Europe or across the US for two or three
weeks at a time. We started this when they
were in kindergarten. It would take special
treatment for the airlines to take a 5-year-old
alone on the plane and required people on
the other end to have special documentation.
We only sent the kids if they wanted to go.
However, with the younger ones seeing the
older ones travel, they wanted to go. The
kids learned from an early age that we, as
parents, were always there for them, but
would let them grow their own wings and
Money and Materialism
Even though we have sufficient money, we
have not helped the children buy homes, pay
for education, pay for weddings (yes, we do
not pay for weddings either). We have
provided extensive information on how to do
it or how to buy rental units and use equity
to grow wealth. We do not “give” things to
our children but we give them information
and teach them “how” to do things. We have
helped them with contacts in corporations,
but they have to do the interviews and
“earn” the jobs.
We give birthday and Christmas presents to
the kids. We would play Santa Claus but as
they got older, and would ask about it, we
would not lie. We would say it is a game we
play and it is fun. We did and do have lists
for items that each child would like for
presents. Then everyone can see what they
want. With the internet, it is easy to send
such lists around to the children and
grandchildren. Still, homemade gifts are
often the favorite of all.
The Real World
We loved the children regardless of what
they did. But would not prevent
consequences of any of their actions. We let
them suffer consequences and would not try
to mitigate the consequences because we
saw them suffering. We would cry and be
sad, but would not do anything to reduce the
consequences of their actions.
My son turned 3 recently. I know it’s a bit early to teach him about business and life lessons — but it’s never too early to start thinking about it. And besides, he’s already starting to show entrepreneurial tendencies — he hates not knowing how to do things, and he never gives up.
Here are the things I hope to instill in my child someday.
1. Gather knowledge… but also gather knowledgeable people.
You can’t know everything. But you can know enough smart people that together collectively know most of what you need to know.
Work hard on getting smarter. Work harder on getting smart people on your side.
Together, you will be able to do almost anything.
2. The memory of work disappears like the memory of pain – all anyone remembers are results.
Experience is valuable – to you. Experience yields skill and skill helps you do things and get results. These results are what other people care really care about.
Focus on racking up achievements, not just years of service.
3. Take responsibility for outcomes.
Occasionally someone will intentionally try to screw you, but a lot more often you’ll do things to screw yourself. Learn to take responsibility when something doesn’t go well… and then to immediately start thinking of ways you will do better next time.
4. Share credit for accomplishments.
Most of your great accomplishments will be the result of both your efforts and those of others. Learn to recognize this — and share the credit.
You will also find that..
The more you are willing to share credit for great accomplishments, the more you will achieve great things.
5. Celebrate your achievements, then move on.
When you achieve something, it’s important to take a moment, reflect — and even celebrate sometimes. But, don’t bask too long in the glow of success. Be gracious, be appreciative, be thankful… but always feel you could do even better.
6. Don’t expect life to be fair. Life just is.
You will often think “That’s just not fair…” especially when you didn’t get your way or things didn’t turn out like you hoped.
You should always treat people fairly. You should expect to be treated fairly. But don’t be surprised when you aren’t treated fairly.
Never expect life to be fair. To paraphrase Yoda, “Do or not do. There is no fair.”
You may not always receive what you put in, but roughly speaking the more you put in the more you will receive. Which is fair enough.
7. See ‘boring’ as a springboard to success.
What appears to be the boring thing to do is almost always the responsible thing to do. What seems like drudgery actually builds the foundation for success. The people who achieve the most do a lot more of the boring stuff.
Routine, rigor, attention to detail, chugging away day after day… those are the path to eventual success. Elite athletes? They’ve put in thousands of hours working on fundamentals. Elite entertainers? They’ve put in thousands of hours of practice.
Successful businesspeople? They’ve put in thousands of hours of effort and hard, often tedious work.
Do the tedious, mundane, “ordinary” stuff better than anyone else – that’s what will make you great.
8. Don’t think you’ll always get a trophy.
Everyone doesn’t deserve recognition. Everyone doesn’t deserve praise. We don’t all deserve awards.
Think of it this way: Do you praise everyone you know?
If you want a trophy, earn a trophy.
You’ll enjoy it a lot more than any of those participation trophies you tossed in your closet.
9. Don’t expect someone else to boost your self esteem.
No one will automatically believe in you. Why should they if you haven’t done anything yet?
If you want to feel great about yourself, achieve something great. In the meantime, use any feelings of inadequacy to make you work harder. Instead of complaining, put your head down, work hard and prove everyone wrong.
Why do you think so many “outcasts” wind up being so successful? They have something to prove.
Go prove yourself – especially to yourself.
10. Understand that amazing overnight success is amazingly rare. And overrated.
As Mark Cuban says, everyone envies the overnight successes, but no one envies the five years in the garage that led to “overnight” success.
And even if you could strike gold in a few months, are you prepared to manage that gold? Early struggles, effort, and desperation forms a valuable foundation that gives you the skills to maintain long-term success – and gives you the fortitude to handle adversity.
Because there will always be adversity.
11. Know when to stand-out and when to fit in.
School was in part a journey of discovery and exploration. (That’s why you got to take electives.) School was designed to help you figure out who you are.
School’s out. No one will help you find yourself. They want to find out how you can help them.
Learn to be part of a team and to fit in when necessary. Once you do, the people around you will be more than happy for your individuality to start shining through.
12. Count yourself lucky to have 3 or 4 great friends.
Social networks are fun, but your real friends are the people who will take your calls at 4 in the morning. And actually listen to you.
And actually help you.
Work hard to find them. Work harder to keep them.
Dharmesh Shah is founder/CTO at HubSpot and blogs at OnStartups.com. You can also follow him on twitter — @dharmesh