After having just read Pasi Sahlberg’s (on twitter @pasi_sahlberg) book, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland I find myself drawn to every article in the media about it. Yes. It’s that good. Because there is so much we can learn from this Scandinavian education superpower…and from one another. Through my PLN, I came across this article from The Atlantic, “What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success” and wanted to share. When I read it, I thought not so much about what we’re missing but rather, how we can learn from Finland’s educational success and move forward to help improve our own education system. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“The answers Finland provides seem to run counter to just about everything America’s school reformers are trying to do. For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what’s called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.
Instead, the public school system’s teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.
As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. “There’s no word for accountability in Finnish,” he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. “Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.”
For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master’s degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country.
And while Americans love to talk about competition, Sahlberg points out that nothing makes Finns more uncomfortable. In his book Sahlberg quotes a line from Finnish writer named Samuli Puronen: “Real winners do not compete.” It’s hard to think of a more un-American idea, but when it comes to education, Finland’s success shows that the Finnish attitude might have merits. There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.
Decades ago, when the Finnish school system was badly in need of reform, the goal of the program that Finland instituted, resulting in so much success today, was never excellence. It was equity.”
To read the entire article click here or on the picture above. Or better yet, pick up a copy of Sahlberg’s book and read for yourself the future possibilities of our own education system and just how much there is we can learn from one another. ~ Tracy