What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success
Jan 01, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Excellent article about the success of the Finnish educational system, from a Finnish author who makes many of the same points others cited in these pages have made in the past. The Finnish model is exactly the opposite of what is touted as 'reform' in the United States: teachers are unionized, they are highly paid and take responsibility (as opposed to 'accountability), there are no private schools, the overall aim of the system is equity, and success is not based on competition. The comment thread, by contrast, is terribly disappointing, indeed a disgrace, offering tangible but sad proof that a certain readership would rather just change the subject (and play the race card) than deal head on with the proposition that a school system that is most successful is one that focuses on success for all its students, not a selected few. Despite the comment thread, this is a must-read article. Total: 205
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Re: What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success

It's not clear how much influence the goal of equity has in these results as the various other factors which you noticed at play, especially the quality of teachers:

"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."

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Re: What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success

I am sure there are numerous factors involved in why Finnish schools are doing so well.

One thing that seems to be true about the USA is that our whole orientation toward life is all about competition, so it is not strange that we approach education that way. In order for a thing to be a real competition you have to have winners and losers. If no one loses what evidence do we have to prove to ourselves that we aren't Socialists? We seem to have this obsession with proving our value by beating someone. [Comment] [Permalink]

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