Monday Mentions

I look forward to the many daily email posts delivered to my inbox. I save many of the posts to savor with coffee, wine, and/or chocolate. Below are blog posts received this past week that have given me reason to pause and ponder…

Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress 2012 and Finnish Education

The author, gwinridenhour, correctly says that we need to consider cultural differences in any discussions that compare education systems. One of the best ways to compare is to look at the work of Geert Hofstede who surveyed IBM employees in 170+ different countries. You can see his cultural considerations as well as Finland’s rating at

If you compare the Finnish “scores” on Hofstede’s scale to the scores of the US, two things stick out. First, the US is far more individualistic. We believe an unspoken “truth” (Hofstede calls it “software of the mind” – or the way we are programmed) to believe that the individual can “pull him/herself up by the bootstraps.” Finland, in contrast, is more collective. They would be less likely to say that any problems in education rest in the student…or the teacher…or the parent. Raising children is a collective effort.

The other comparison that sticks out is the “masculinity/femininity” scale. This scale is NOT about gender, but in the tendency to be driven by (or not driven by) competition, achievement and success. America is a highly competitive society and we look for comparative measures such as standardized tests. Finland’s scale scores indicate that free time and flexibility are greater incentives than “success”.

The Finnish school system reflects its society values. So does the American system. The Finnish system, in its full form, would make many Americans uncomfortable. Isn’t it interesting that Americans (myself included) call the system “good” based on measures that we value far more highly than they do?

Expatriate Everywhere

James R. Mitchener‘s Third Culture Kid (TCK) blog was new to me this week – introduced through an article from Janneke of Drie Culturen (congrats on the award, BTW!).

I’d like to use James’s writing as an example to my students. How can they describe their ever-changing surroundings to readers who have never visited such places? How can they describe what seems so “normal” to them but is beyond comprehension to those who grew up in a single country?

I’ve pinned one of James’s articles, The TCK Barrier Between Parent and Child, to share with parents of my students.

Daily Infographic

eClassroom News included an article on teaching with Infographics. The article included a link to Over 100 Infographic Resource Links. Having 25% battery left as I sipped Chardonnay at a local cafe, I pinned sites that would help students create infographics, and pinned infographics that related to units of study. I ended up signing up for the Daily Infographic – they are just cool.

Actually, It Is About the Technology

John T. Spencer got me re-thinking my strong “it’s not about the tech” assertion.

I continue to think it is more valuable for teachers to focus on core subject objectives than focus on the tools used to communication, collaboration, and create. However, John Spencer rightly says that we often don’t take full adventure of platforms.

So now I’m wondering if, perhaps, the best way to help students (and me) make the best use of tech is to give them intentional time to “show off.” Open source works because programmers take pride in their work – and enjoy showing off their skills. I want people to show me more cool stuff. I suspect my students want to see more cool stuff too.

Platforms really can do amazing things.

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5 thoughts on “Monday Mentions

  1. Thanks for the shout-out. I am glad you enjoyed the collection. It means a lot. Feel free to use it as you wish! I’m always willing to help other expats and TCKs. And if you’d like a more personal interaction, I’m always willing to offer a direct line of communication.

    I have browsed your collection. Very nice stuff. I’ll have to sit down and spend some serious time rolling through your previous posts. It’s a pleasure to digitally meet you!

    • That’s awesome, James. I suspect you went to international schools (ESF?) – so you know the situation of my students.

      My class just went on a HK Walkabout (I’ll be posting detail on in a few days). The school bus dropped them off at City Hall, and students used public trasport (with parent chaperones) to arrive at and write from at least three locations in Hong Kong. Would you be available for a Skype chat with them? You know Hong Kong – and you know how to describe the seemingly indescribable.

      I’m trying to help students connect Hong Kong with senses, thoughts, and feelings. If students are a compilation of all the places they’ve lived (or will live), what makes the “Hong Kong” part special? Those questions are terribly abstract for students…so I hope they can begin by carefully observing the setting – like you do in your posts.

      I bet they’d be interested in the memories that come to mind when you hear of places like The Peak, Victoria Park, Hong Kong Park, and Stanley. They like to laugh. One of their favorite stories is about my Aussie hubby accompanying me through a Burger Kind drive-thru in America. He ordered a large coke and pulled up to the counter. With two hands, the teenager guided the coke from the restaurant window to the car window. Wide-eyed, my hubby put up his hand to stop the boy. My hubby said, “I want large. This is a bucket.”

      The good news about continually feeling like an outsider – you end up with great stories :).

      • That would be perfect. Hong Kong has always been my favourite city, so I am always down to talk about my time there. And yes, I have plenty of glorious memories of all those places, especially during Typhoon season. Walking down to Stanley Market during a Typhoon 7 was an entertaining experience. And I went to see Jackie Chan at the peak once, but was an hour late so I just ended up getting squirted by water walking across that fountain thing while it was on standby, then it just shot a jet up my trouser let. Lots of good memories!

        My skype username is jmitchener87 and you can email me at (I’ll reply from a different address, but that’s the email address I keep online as a first point of contact). We can also do a Google+ Hangout if that’s more convenient. I do love that platform.

        I love the idea of a walkabout Hong Kong. You’ll never come across a better public transportation system. Truly amazing place, that island.

        In response to the education there, I actually attended Bradbury Jr. School in my first 2 years there, and then my second trip I did a year in middle school at HKIS and then a year in high school at HKIS. I don’t believe those are part of the ESF system, but I did get the international education there. Gotta love the International Baccalaureate!

        Shoot me an email, add me on skype, circle me on Google+, whatever’s convenient for you. I’d love to have a chat and see what I can do!

  2. In the workplace, sometimes it really is about the technology. To get in the habit of using a certain kind of technology takes some time and effort (even for a digital native). And if the technology habits are not fully adopted, the workplace suffers from inefficiency. I would guess that the education of workplace inefficiency is learning inefficiency (i.e. not learning well or fast enough).

    But – having said this – I do agree that the purpose of teaching technology shouldn’t be to learn about the technology, but rather to use the technology as a tool to do something / learn about something.

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