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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Leading the Way for the World

If you need more evidence that the Nordic countries, socialism and all, know what they are doing, here it is. Three interviews from CBC's The Sunday Edition



Why Finland's public schools are so successful






A school in Finland, where an egalitarian, low-stress model helps students to excel. Photo: Teemu Vehkaoja
A school in Finland, where an egalitarian, low-stress model helps students to excel. Photo: Teemu Vehkaoja


The hand wringing over the state of public education in North America has produced a lot of reports, proposals and tensions between teachers, school boards, students, parents and governments.


We hear that teachers have too much power, that governments don't adequately fund schools, that teachers need to be made accountable, that under-performing schools should have their funding cut back, that students need to be tested, that we need to focus on core subjects and spend less time on art and music. 

FinnishChildren300b.jpgFinland is consistently put at the very top of global educational rankings despite, or perhaps because of, taking a very different approach: teachers are highly trained and very well-paid, students aren't tested until their teens, there's very little homework, and there are no private schools.

Michael Enright speaks to Finland's education reform guru, Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, about how the country's egalitarian, low-stress model has helped Finnish students reach for the top.

Redefining Dementia in Denmark




In Denmark, people with dementia aren't confined to nursing homes, they go on biking trips. (CBC / Karin Wells)
In Denmark, people with dementia aren't confined to nursing homes, they go on biking trips. (CBC / Karin Wells)


Denmark looks after its old people.
Lotte, the most famous nursing home in the country, has become an international shrine for anyone seeking another way ... a happier way ... to make a life for people with dementia.
Lotte is a big old brick house on the west side of Copenhagen, where 23 men and women live like a family. Seventy per cent of the family has dementia.
They take Caribbean vacations together. The 98-year-old man on the second floor has fallen in love with the 101-year-old woman. The cat sits curled up next to the dining room table.
Lotte's first leader, Thyra Frank, is the rock star of elder care in Denmark.
Denmark - like every other country in Europe - is in an economic squeeze. Yet Lotte is fully funded and fostered by the Danish government.
The underlying philosophy of elder care is well rooted.  Every man or woman, no matter how ill, or how old, has the right to choose how they want to live.
We all know the numbers - dementia of some sort is catching up with more and more of us. It is a frightening prospect.
No one wants to see mum or dad  - or to imagine themselves - strapped down to a bed in a locked dementia ward - chemically warehoused. But in North America, the choices are limited.
Which is why the world looks to Denmark -- where it is illegal to imprison people with dementia in locked wards; where nursing homes regularly take their people on holiday, and where people with dementia are asked what they want to do today.
Karin Wells's documentary is called It's Their Life.


Icelandic President


The President of Iceland, Olafur Grimmson reflects on the challenging decisions that helped rescue his country from the brink of total economic collapse.