LiiNK Blog: Crossroads for the U.S.

September 12, 2012

By: Dr. Debbie Rhea

The United States has steadily dropped in reading, math, and science status for the past 20 years and presently muddles along in the middle of the pack on National and global assessments (Hancock, 2011), even though we continue to throw more money at schools and teach more and more to specific test standards (CDC, 2010). Physical education has all but been removed from the schools across the U.S. as a result of a trend that if we stay in the classroom longer, measure teacher competencies competitively, and teach to a test, we will ultimately be better learners/scholars (CDC, 2010). As a result, our children are becoming more sedentary, obese, and less academically skilled (Dan Rather’s Report, 2012). Research has shown that children who engage in physical activity and play will do better academically than children who are sedentary and less creative and active (Singh et al., 2012; Trudeau & Shephard, 2010).

Finland is ahead of the curve with their forward thinking and educational model. The United States could learn from some of their ideas as we ponder how the next generation of children will learn better skills than the last two generations of children. The purpose of my visit to Finland is to observe the Finnish children in their K-12 school environment, take in the concepts and teaching strategies of the teachers in the K-12 school setting, and develop a model for integrating some of these successful concepts into pilot programs in schools across Texas. I began the observations this morning and will continue following the university students and the elementary, lower, and upper secondary students over the next six weeks.