Finnish education, the best in the world, is public and based on equity and cooperation, not choice and competition

From Finnish Lessons, by Oassu Salberg: “The Finnish experience shows that consistent focus on equity and cooperation — not choice and competition — can lead to an education system where all children learn well. Paying teachers based on students’ test scores or converting public schools into private ones (through charters or other means) are ideas that have no place in the Finnish repertoire for education improvement.” (p 9)

Plan of this book

  1. Finland has an educational system in which young people learn well and performance differences among schools are small — and all with reasonable cost and human effort.
  2. This has not always been so.
  3. In Finland, teaching is a prestigious profession, and many students aspire to be teachers. [pay is close to that of doctors]
  4. Therefore, the Finns have the probably the most competitive teacher-education system in the world.
  5. As a consequence, teachers in Finland have a great deal of professional autonomy and access to purposeful professional development throughout their careers.
  6. Those who are lucky enough to become teachers are normally teachers for life.
  7. Almost half of the 16-year olds, when they leave comprehensive school, have been engaged in some sort of special education, personalized help, or individual guidance.
  8. In Finland, teachers teach less and students spend less time studying both in and out of school than their peers in other countries.
  9. Finnish schools lack the standardized testing, test-preparation, and private tutoring of the United States and much of the world.
  10. All of the factors that are behind the Finnish success seem to be the opposite of what is taking place in the United States and much of the rest of the world, where competition, test-based accountability, standardization, and privatization seem to dominate.

Additionally, formal schooling starts at age seven in Finland, later than in most other countries.   Some people say that Finland’s small size and homogenous population make it inappropriate as a model for the US, but Salberg points out that many US states have a smaller population, and Finland has absorbed a substantial number of immigrants in recent years.

See also

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