The global school

©David Rooney

Educating children is vital for maintaining our standard of living now and in the future. This thought is not new and most of us are well aware of it. What is new is the way we need to work to prepare our children for that future.

Key challenges that spring to my mind include globalisation, migration, war and terrorism, and disease. These issues are more immediate in children’s lives than ever before. Like the global village, our schools have become global too.

The problems Swedish schools face today are quite different from those of just 25 years ago. The school I run is a multi-cultural state funded primary school where all of our pupils or their parents come from various countries abroad. The world is in our classrooms, and yet we are expected to strive towards the same exacting standards with the same curriculum as others in Sweden. We are not alone and it puts the teaching profession and the entire school system in the spotlight.

There are three main challenges: organisation, pupil empowerment in their own work, and co-operation between different pedagogical professions. Fifteen years ago teachers worked alone. They were at the front of the classroom, symbols of knowledge and authority. But today, more than one person is needed to help pupils reach the goals we set for them. This makes organisation very important.

At our school, teachers, pre-school teachers and recreational educationalists or pedagogues work together in teams. Letting go of that control has not been easy for some, but in today’s demanding educational scene, teachers have no choice but to share tasks, not just for the kids’ sake, but for their own too.

Each teacher at Husbygårds school receives a clear mission statement in writing: they are co-workers along with the principal and other staff, and our joint job is to educate. We make this clear to every teacher under my authority. We discuss and reach agreement on goals. There are six performance categories: ability to cooperate; competence; leadership; communication skills; effort and results; and responsibility. We treat teaching as a results driven profession. That is why better teachers at Husbygårds school earn a higher bonus than less-performing ones.

Husbygårds school is governed by public policy targets. Reaching them is like walking through a minefield. You have to be a strategist and you need a leader who can set priorities, make tough decisions and still inspire in everyone a sense of pride in this hugely important profession. Teaching people of many different religions is rewarding, but we must deal with what happens in the world, in the Middle East, in Africa. And we must teach Swedish to students who together speak some 40 other tongues. Still, our approach pays off. Our student performance has been very good, not least in Swedish. And our teacher turnover is low.

On top of academic performance, we have to worry about funding. This is a burden policymakers could help us more with. The system takes time and administration costs us about Skr4 million a year. This pressure forces us to severely limit the number of new teachers we employ.

The management burden eats into my time for pedagogical development and teacher support. This is a pity, since in any OECD country, developing competence and knowledge is surely where the priority should lie.

Another job is to oversee and train new teachers. Is our teacher training system able to cope? Sometimes when we meet teacher candidates, we are forced to wonder. Shouldn’t those who work in today’s schools mould the teachers of tomorrow, not outmoded training colleges?

A new direction for our teaching academies is needed. A successful teacher is one who learns in the classroom. We need to work with children, yes, but also interact with historians, mathematicians, scientists and other professionals who might help students understand and enjoy school. Happiness is a necessary ingredient for our multicultural schools.

This interaction does not happen enough. Kista, where our school is located, is a kind of Silicon Valley near Stockholm, yet we have almost no contact with firms in the area. At the same time, our joint priority must be the welfare and happiness of the children. A system that fosters learning is more likely to lead to a successful economy over time.

The children we teach today are more diverse than we ever were. Tomorrow is their world and it is unknown territory. We must help them develop the knowledge they need to move ahead.

Reference

See www.husbygardsskolan.stockholm.se/

©OECD Observer No 242, March 2004




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • “Nizip” refugee camp visit
    July 2016: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría visits the “Nizip” refugee camp, situated between Gaziantep and the Turkish-Syrian border, accompanied by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek. The camp accommodates a small number of the 2.75 million Syrians currently registered in Turkey, mostly outside the camps. In his tour of the camp, Mr Gurría visits a school, speaks with refugees and gives a short interview.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • Queen Maxima of the Netherlands gives a speech next to Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (not pictured) during the International Forum of Financial Inclusion at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 21, 2016.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • OECD Environment Director Simon Upton presented a talk at Imperial College London on 21 April 2016. With the world awash in surplus oil and prices languishing around US$40 per barrel, how can governments step up efforts to transform the world’s energy systems in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • Happy 10th birthday to Twitter. This 2008 OECD Observer interview with Henry Copeland said you’d do well.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Once migrants reach Europe, countries face integration challenge: OECD's Thomas Liebig speaks to NPR's Audie Cornish.

  • Message from the International Space Station to COP21

  • COP21 Will Get Agreement With Teeth: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on Bloomberg

  • The carbon clock is ticking: OECD’s Gurría on CNBC

  • If we want to reach zero net emissions by the end of the century, we must align our policies for a low-carbon economy, put a price on carbon everywhere, spend less subsidising fossil fuels and invest more in clean energy. OECD at #COP21 – OECD statement for #COP21
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Pole to Paris Project
  • In order to face global warming, Asia needs at least $40 billion per year, derived from both the public and private sector. Read how to bridge the climate financing gap on the Asian Bank of Development's website.
  • How can cities fight climate change?
    Discover projects in Denmark, Canada, Australia, Japan and Mexico.
  • Climate: What's changed, what hasn't, what we can do about it.
    Lecture by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, hosted by the London School of Economics and Aviva Investors in association with ClimateWise, London, UK, 3 July 2015.

  • Climate change: “We should not disagree when scientists tell us we have a window of opportunity–10-15 years–to turn this thing around” argues Senator Bernie Sanders.

  • In the long-run, the EU benefits from migration, says OECD Head of International Migration Division Jean-Christophe Dumont.
  • Is technological progress slowing down? Is it speeding up? At the OECD, we believe the research from our Future of ‪Productivity‬ project helps to resolve this paradox.
  • Is inequality bad for growth? That redistribution boosts economies is not established by the evidence says FT economics editor Chris Giles. Read more on www.ft.com.
  • Catherine Mann, OECD Chief Economist, explains on Bloomberg why "too much bank lending can slow economic growth".
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2016?

Unemployment
Euro crisis
International conflict
Global warming
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2016