Another day, another article on the truth-out site to which my uncle sent me. Very interesting piece on Iceland and the education system that is so often touted as the best in the world. However, rather than the usual “Iceland is so amazing, we should all copy them”, this article makes a number of points:
- If Iceland is so great, why did they collapse so spectacularly in 2008? Why did they not see the writing on the wall if their education system gave them such insight into economic and social possibilities?
- If Iceland’s gaming industry is growing, but its unable to source locals for its technology sector, why aren’t its schools adapting and growing to meet the changing demand?
What was really interesting for me from this article was the single failure of the education system to reform to meet the country’s needs. As Heiða Helgadóttir, chairperson of the party Bright Future, argues in the piece:
Children are generally bored at school,” she said. “We need to figure out how we can make them be more creative and such”.
In addition, Arnaldur Sigurðarson from the Pirate Party (not even kidding) states:
the model of education “in Westernized countries dates back to the industrial revolution because there was an increasing demand for labourers with the basic skills that the education institutions of the time provided.” It’s a system Sigurðarson describes as past its time – one that “strip-mines our minds for particular commodities because of preconceived outdated notions of what intelligence is.” He decried the system’s neglect of the arts and creative thinking, and called for an introduction of seemingly advanced topics in primary school – such as coding, philosophy and gender studies.
They are looking to reformers of education, including Ken Robinson, as evidence of their calls. However, as always, money is being cited as the main reason the arts and coding aren’t being included in the curriculum. However, as Sigurðarson notes, political wrangling over short-term financing could end up costing Iceland in the long run as the students will end up earning the country more money in the long term. Not that I wish to suggest it’s all about money.
But, surely, home education would be a way to address this problem. After all, home education students, especially if they are unschooled or on the natural learning continuum, are able to learn what interests them at their own pace. And, they don’t cost the government money. In addition, the individualised instruction that is said to be central to the education revolution is possible in a home-education environment. However, as with many European countries, it’s generally illegal in Iceland.
And, here’s the problem, because it’s unthinkable, it won’t be thought of as a solution.