Friday, March 25, 2011

There's hope for the future

Yesterday I was talking to my oldest daughter, 9 years old, when we were driving home from her school, like I do every day, and she told me they'd had a test/exam during the day. Nothing strange in that since they are in the middle of a period when they have their first "real test/exams". It's a set of national tests that all 3'rd graders take in Sweden. I was curious about how she had experienced that and what the test was about. I've hear her teacher talk about how it works and they do some things in groups and some individual tasks and not everything at once but it can start one afternoon one week and be continued next week or the next day. Some of the tests are connected so that the results, and learnings, from one test is the starting point of another. All in all I was impressed with the development since this is nothing like it was when I was at school.

I asked her what the subject was, what the test was about, and I got the answer: I'm not sure. That sparked my curiosity and I asked her to describe what they'd been doing. To say the least I was pleasantly surprised. She told me that they had to solve a mathematical problem and then describe how they had solved it. They were free to use written language, mathematical language (her words) or images and diagrams to describe the process. I had a big smile on face the rest of the drive home and we talked more about it. She had mixed written language and math and imagery and I said -That's great. find it easier to understand how someone else has thought if I get different types of information about it. We talked about the use of imagery and how the combination of different ways of communication can make it easier to understand another person.

I was impressed that this had been implemented in the tests and exams and it raised my hopes for the future. I do believe that all is not as bad as I had feared in the school system in Sweden today. We are moving forward and I hope that most, if not all, teachers use this approach in the class room. Letting the kids think for themselves and use different means of communication to explain what they've learned.