Can robots be good teachers?
For nearly 20 years, the toy company, Lego has offered a programme to Chinese school children, which teaches them to code. This is done through programmable robots, computer software and, most importantly, playing.
In the Nordic countries playtime is highly valued. The belief is that all those little breaks during the day, when children do not have to be too serious, are just as important as focused learning time. And noe of this conflicts with being efficient nations. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
Play to learn
Playtime is a big part of the educational systems in the Nordic countries, and an even bigger part of the preparation for these educational systems. In Finland, for instance, formal academic learning does not start until the child is seven. Up until then, the focus is on creative play in the day-care system. When formal school finally begins, the school hours are generally shorter than in most parts of the world, and homework duties are light. Still, when international tests of schoolchildren are performed, the children of Finland are often ranked as number 1.
Creative play has been a natural part of Nordic childcare since the 1970s, because it was believed that their wellbeing as children would make them healthy adults. Recently it has been proven that these methods also have other benefits. The director of the Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development & Learning at Cambridge University says: “Once engaged in a task they (the children) enjoy, whether acting out a story or constructing a building, children become motivated to constantly refine and improve on their task and to increase the challenge. From a psychological point of view, you can see how playing can help children become powerful learners”.
Creative kids, innovative adults
Being creative is not just a way to be a better learner, it is also a way to be more… creative! Whenever the most innovative countries in the world are ranked, the Nordics are well represented in the top 10. The value of this becomes evident when you look at the number of start-ups that come from the Nordic countries. The region only accounts for 2% of the global GDP, but it has accounted for almost 10% of the world’s billion-dollar business exits over the last decade.
In the Nordic countries, however, it is not about dollars or euros or kroner. It is not about things you can measure. It is about teaching children how to be people.