Term 3: 8 September 2023


Earlier this week the New Zealand Herald reported a change in government policy in Sweden.  Here are the introductory paragraphs from the article.

“As young children went back to school across Sweden last month, many of their teachers were putting a new emphasis on printed books, quiet reading time and handwriting practice and devoting less time to tablets, independent online research and keyboarding skills.

The return to more traditional ways of learning is a response to politicians and experts questioning whether the country’s hyper-digitised approach to education, including the introduction of tablets in nursery schools, had led to a decline in basic skills.” NZ Herald 10 September 2023

As you are all aware Ficino School students use no personal devices until Year Five.  This means they are interacting with each other and their teachers for the whole school day.  The benefit this has on their physical, social, emotional and mental wellbeing is obvious.  There is plenty of research that supports the benefits of minimal screen time for young children and it is good to see governments finally taking note.  Their action, in the case of Sweden, has been in response to declining literacy rates over the last five years.  (Interestingly, New Zealand’s scores in the same international tests have declined also over the same period but by a smaller amount – our decline is more systemic and has been happening over the last 20 years).

Another instance of positive reinforcement for one of Ficino School’s approaches was presented recently at the Independent Schools (ISNZ) conference.  This research was by Professor Pasi Sahlberg, Finnish educator, author and scholar, who showed the results of his research which strongly supports the practice of ‘Looping’.  This is when a teacher takes a class for more than one year and then loops back after two or more years.  Ficino School has been using this approach since its inception 25 years ago.  Pasi Sahlberg alluded to some of the benefits, and they are primarily about relationships; pupil-teacher relationships and teacher-parent relationships both of which are paramount for a child’s academic and social success.