WXXI AM News

play-based learning

What can the U.S. education system learn from Finland? Perhaps the better question is, do students need school subjects? Teachers in Finland are gearing up for a significant shift in curricula for high school students. In 2020, curricula for students aged 16 and older will be rooted in phenomenon-based learning. That means instead of students taking math class, then science class, then English class, they will choose an event or phenomenon to study, incorporating multiple subjects in the process (something like exploring the climates of different countries, and reporting on them in French).

The model is getting some pushback, with critics saying it may lower standards and widen the gap between students who grasp concepts more quickly and those who need more direction. Could such a model be adopted in the U.S.?

Our guests weigh in on different forms of learning and the future of education. In studio:

  • Evvy Fanning, local high school English teacher
  • Douglas Allard, 7th grade social studies teacher in the Phelps Clifton Springs School District
  • Jennifer Wagner, RCSD educator and parent
  • Joanne Larson, professor of education and associate director of research at the Center for Urban Education Success at the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education

Only five school districts in New York State do not have full day kindergarten. Pittsford remains one of those districts, despite the efforts of teachers and administrators to convince voters. Brighton recently moved to adopt full day kindergarten.

Our guests discuss their views and educating young children:

  • Mike Pero, superintendent of the Pittsford Central School District
  • Kevin McGowan, superintendent of the Brighton Central School District

Here’s a stat that may surprise you. Only 12 percent of youth in Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes are getting daily physical activity. This means the majority of area youth are not getting 60 minutes a day of active time. That’s one of the stats released in a recent report by the Aspen Institute. The findings are being used by the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to improve access to sports, among other things, for area kids. Why this matters to all area residents and what’s being done to address gaps that exist with youth sports and recreational activities on this edition of Need to Know.

What does the increasing emphasis on testing do to our pre-schoolers?

Erika Christakis is the author of The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need from Grownups. Her book is an examination of how we expect kids to learn, and why we tend to de-emphasize play and creativity. We talk about the consequences and the changes she would prefer. Our guests: