I read this week, that Finland are once again looking to improve their education system. They are looking into moving away from subject based education to project based education.
So I got to thinking about the system that we have over here and because I’m enjoying coming up with obvious analogies, I’d like to welcome you to Pegland!
Pegland is a small country on an island in the middle of a cold ocean. Most of the citizens of Pegland are Round Pegs, but in fact there are Pegs in all shapes and sizes.
And not all Round Pegs were the same. Not all Round Pegs fit into the round holes. Some were too big, some too small, some were just a little bit too rough around the edges to fit comfortably into the round holes. The majority of the Young Pegs go to Pegademies to be shaped to fit into the round holes by the Peg-Shapers. For many years, the Pegademies worked out different ways to reshape the Pegs, to chip away at the larger pegs, until they fit in the round holes.
Every now and then, Pegland would decide that maybe they should organise some different shaped holes, for the other shapes to fit into. So Pegland stopped being such a round holes country. In fact, it now had more Round Pegs than there were holes to fit in.
The Editors of Pegland News became worried that the Pegademies weren’t turning out the Right Kind Of Peg. Instead of trying to find out what sort of Pegs the Pegademies should turn out, Pegland decided to give it to Secretary Peg to sort out.
Secretary Peg grew up in a round holes world, at a time when the country had loads and loads of large round holes. All of his friends and Pegademy friends were round holes men and life was so much better then. So he decided that the country should produce Round Pegs, who fit into the round holes. Additionally, he decided that, for a better society, they needed Shiny Pegs, who find it super easy to slip into the round holes.
The government of Pegland decreed that all Pegademies would be judged ONLY on how many Shiny Pegs they could send out of their doors. These results would be posted on the huge noticeboards in the town centre.
So the Pegademies went about following all Secretary Peg’s ideas and he sent out the Dark Pegs to check on the Pegademies to make sure they were properly following all of the decrees.
Unfortunately, every time the Dark Pegs visited, the Peg-Shapers found that they had to spend more and more time on the Thank You Letters for the visits and they had less and less time to spend shaping the Young Pegs. They had absolutely no time to deal with the different shaped Pegs at all, so they just put them in a room together and every so often they would go in and hack huge chunks off them in order to try and get them to fit into the round holes. Sometimes they just sent them to Shaped Pegademies, who were better at dealing with different shapes.
Some of the Young Pegs, who were already shiny when they got to the Pegademies, were filtered into Punctuation-Pegademies. They only dealt with the Shiny Pegs and some of the Pegademies in the nicer areas became very good at selecting the remaining Shiny Pegs for themselves, so that they could get further to the top of the noticeboards.
Very soon, the Pegademies at the bottom of the noticeboard found that they had more and more visits from the Dark Pegs and had no time at all for anything other than making the Young Pegs round. They had very few Shiny Pegs and their other Young Pegs were not able to get shinier, because all the Peg-Shapers were busy writing Thank You Letters for the Dark Pegs. So some of them started to lose their shine, but the schools didn’t mind, because they still fit easily into the round holes, so who needs the really Shiny Pegs?
The Peg-Shapers hated thinking like this, but what else could they do? They had so many Thank You letters to write.
So the Young Pegs started to think. “What’s the point? There aren’t enough round holes for us all anyway,” they thought. This made the Young Pegs very depressed.
Very soon all the money in Pegland went to buy shiny things for the Shinier Pegademies and the Punctuation-Pegademies. All the Shiniest Peg-Shapers flocked to the Shiny places and although the excellent ones who stayed in the standard Pegademies tried really hard, they found themselves in a never ending circle of Dark Peg visits and Thank You Letters. This made them very depressed.
At the same time out in the country, Pegland was crying out for different shaped pegs and different sized pegs for all the new different shaped and sized holes. But all they could find among the Young Pegs were the round ones in varying grades of shininess.
And the Pegademies kept churning them out.
Then one day, a Curious Peg stood up and said:
“Instead of making all the Young Pegs into Round Pegs, why don’t we just let the Young Pegs be the shape they are. All we have to do then is give them the tools to go out and find a hole that fits them?
And while we’re at it, can we get rid of the noticeboard and try to make ALL Pegademies as good as each other. Can we get rid of the Dark Peg visits and instead get visits from the older & wiser Peg-Shapers, who don’t want Thank You Letters. Instead, they work with the Pegademies to help them get better, not by scaring them, but by helping them, mentoring them and showing them different ways of shaping Pegs.
Can we try this?” Said the Curious Peg
“Yes, why not” said Pegland.
This Curious Peg moment happened 40 years ago in Finland. Now, Finland consistently has one of the best education systems in the world.
Are we ever going to listen to the Curious Pegs in this country?