Strangely, this book is a moderately flattering history of schools.
310 pages, ★★★
Over-schooled but Under-educated isn’t so much a critique, or even a blueprint, as a history of schooling. It reads like a selection of meandering essays about when schools were built, by whom, and for what purpose—basically, by churches in the 19th century to handle the delinquent poor; and later by the new, self-made middle-class as an attempt to push their children out of skilled labour and into the aristocracy. Over-schooled but Under-educated thus neglects its “schools need reform” thesis for six chapters! In the introduction, the author even writes, “you can skim-read chapters 5 and 6 to read chapter 7 properly, which is the crux of my argument”.
This book’s points are largely obvious. Schools need reform; teachers should let students learn by themselves; standardised tests set precedents more than they measure a student’s existing ability; and the family environment (that’s Pierre Bourdieu’s “Social Capital”) accounts for a greater proportion of a child’s education than does the experience of that child’s teacher. As a teacher, I feel like I knew all this already.
I was expecting something revolutionary from this book. The distressed title font emanates undertones of strength, grunge and rebellion, but none of this was to be found. Instead, it’s written like a collection social sciences essays, and I was thus disappointed.
That said, Over-schooled but Under-educated was worth reading. The most constructive part was the chapter on Finland’s model of education, from which all Western countries, supposedly, can learn.
My own teacher training will take precedent over any other books that I read on education. At this stage, I can agree with the role of a teacher being a “guide on the side”, not a “sage on the stage”, but when my Diploma of Education starts in February, even this view will be up for debate. ★★★
- Why Finland’s Unorthodox Education System Is The Best In The World (businessinsider.com)
- Why Finland Succeeds (educationviews.org)
- “Education is a very complex issue which cannot be limited to the School” – Profs John Baldacchino (andrewazzopardi.org)
- Sahlberg wins prize for explaining Finland’s school success (prnewswire.com)
- Sahlberg wins prize for explaining Finland’s school success (sys-con.com)
- Education Reform (coffeewithkath.wordpress.com)
- Sahlberg wins prize for explaining Finland’s school success (sacbee.com)
- UK education ranked sixth in the world (schoolsimprovement.net)
- Finland and South Korea top the Learning Curve (timeshighereducation.co.uk)
- Adam Taylor – Why Finland’s Unorthodox Education System Is The Best In The World (prn.fm)