On Mombragging, the Finnish School System, and life

I’m so embarrassed. I had a friend come over last week to help administer Baby J’s medicine, and before she left I said, “Oh, look what he did for the first time today! He picked up the ball and put it in the hole and pushed it down! ….ohmygod, I’m that mom, I’m bragging, I’m so sorry.”

Apparently, the Finnish school system, long touted as being amazing, is changing its curriculum. They will be teaching by topic now rather than by subject, which seems…awesome. Instead of a history lesson and a science lesson and an economics lesson, let’s study the Black Plague and look at what happened, the science behind it, and the economic, political, and historical ramifications. To me, it seems like a much better use of time, and a way to keep kids more engaged. After all, life isn’t math and science and history, it’s events, and they affect and are affected by multiple things. (I think some home school studies do it this way as well, which I find intriguing…)

While in the hospital last week, Baby J got a jar of peaches. He had not tried them yet, because I was hadn’t seen them in the stores fresh (I have yet to buy jarred food for him). He enjoyed the peaches, but I may not be able to give them to him again, because for the rest of the day I was singing, “Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man, in a factory dooooowwntoooowwn.”

I’m feeling really overwhelmed again, like I can’t cope and do everything I need to do. Part of it may be the “recovery” from vacation followed by a hospital stay, trying to catch up on everything. But part of it is certainly that Baby J is more mobile and curious and able, thus requiring a lot more watching. I used to be able to do dishes while he was awake, now I can’t have the dishwasher open or he’s in it. I used to be able to do laundry, now he’s pulling up on and mouthing the toilet. I can’t let him play on the landing while I’m on the computer, he’s in there with me playing with cables or trying to get himself run over by the office chair. And since naptime was supposed to be writing/office time, and now it’s dishes/laundry time….well, you see where I’m going with this. For a couple of months now, I’ve been playing with the idea of getting someone in to watch him a few hours a week, and its becoming more and more necessary, at least if I want to get anything accomplished. I think I may need to cut out a bit of time spent with Stephen in the evenings, as well.  😦

I’m almost done editing the photos from our trip to Lapland, so I hope to post about that soon. I took 399 photos (not including the ones I took on my phone), and I’ve edited that down to 177, 77 of which are photos of the Northern Lights. Those are actually the only ones I have left to edit, and they will likely take me a couple more days. Until then, I’ll leave you with this:

Northern Lights


Categories: Random | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “On Mombragging, the Finnish School System, and life

  1. Mary

    Hey it is exciting when they do something for the first time. No shame in being excited about it. Besides it sounds like you were talking mostly to yourself than your friend. No shame in that either. I talk to myself a lot too if you remember. LOL

  2. Sally


  3. anonymous

    I’m a bit sceptical about the topic-style of teaching. First of all, it could create subtle imbalances or holes in the kids’ proficiency of subjects. The point of school still is to teach basic skills and basic information about every subject to everyone. It could be that if you don’t force the kids per subject, they could gravitate towards their natural tendencies during education, which could leave them without sufficient skills or practice in some modes of thinking, some approaches, etc. that do not come to them naturally or first. For example, not everyone can really draw but the school still makes them do it and those rudimentary skills may well come in handy sometimes, whether they’re even remotely talented or not. I’m afraid that something similar could happen inside their heads because they could naturally gravitate towards their (perceived) strengths and lose out on obtaining some basic-level mental (or even physical) skill that isn’t their natural strength. A lot of mathematics, for example, is that sort of thing. Kids might not end up having the whole toolkit at their disposal.

    Another reason for my scepticism is that having subjects rather than topics requires more focused thinking and I think that’s a good skill to have. I’m not saying the skill of thinking broadly isn’t useful, it is, but it is also fairly natural. I’m just wondering if we’re losing the deep thinking skills with this change. I would think that that skill is less natural and should therefore be specifically taught.

    I’m also thinking about the involved part. That could also come in the way of learning. I sometimes liked having the teacher simply pour the information in, to present it to me. I could then turn it around inside my head at will at my own pace while simultaneously taking in more. I didn’t have to spend energy or mental capacity in “involving” myself.

    Lastly, I’m wondering how it affects the mental energy side of learning. Subject-based teaching allows kids to reset their brains in between classes because of the compartmentalisation. That allows them to start fresher for each class during the day. I get the compartmentalisation is seen as a bad thing that weakens cross-discipline application skills, but, to me, it also allows better use of mental energy because filing subjects in different places doesn’t give you that feeling of “brain is full”. Topic-based teaching could combine topics to big, muddled messes that you would have to mentally drag around all day instead of storing it away in one’s brain piecemeal.

    It is clear that I’m not an expert, but we’re not talking about a lesson or two. Many, even exhausting, approaches to teaching work for that. We’re talking about the whole school day and the whole school year, the whole stretch of school, in fact. I think the arithmetic changes then. I’m just thinking about the possible downsides.

    • Maybe the solution is a little of each, then – class schedules might consist of Math, Science, English, History, and a couple of Bringing it All Together classes. I’ve very briefly looked into homeschooling, and if I did it, I would likely do a blend of the two. Subject based is probably better for learning basic skills, and topic based better for putting it together, obtaining a deeper working understanding, and getting it to “sink in.” The thing is, different people (and kids) learn differently, and obviously I’m more of a topic based learner – probably comes from being a history major. I would bet Math and Sciences people are better with subject based. The ultimate solution to education, then, would be to tailor the curriculum for individual students, rather than the group. Which is, of course, impossible. Unless you homeschool! 🙂

  4. i’m excited to see what happens with the new teaching curriculum. we will not personally have kids in school by the time it’s implemented because they will be graduating in a just a few years, however i do have friends with little one’s who will.

    ahhh the toddler stage. our grandson is almost 2 now and gets into EVERYTHING! an agile little mountain goat of cupboard climbing. my poor daughter is exhausted.
    i was lucky enough to get a little help with my young kids as i living close to family, however they are a military family and on their own.

    shit yes get some help in!!!! i know two families with au pairs, one is live in and the other comes in 4 days a week. swell set up i say!

    have a good easter holiday sara!

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