Friday, April 29, 2016

Schools in Finland

"In Finland the teachers are the entrepreneurs" is one of many interesting comments in this fascinating article from the Wall Street Journal.  The article is really well written because it describes in pretty good detail why the Finnish system produces such bright, well educated students. It describes the nature of the curriculum, the requirements to be a teacher in Finland as well as the government support for education, especially reading.

It also points out the many reasons why such a system would probably not work in the US which is rather sad and depressing. For example the Finnish school population, they say,  is much more homogeneous in terms of languages spoken. I presume this means that it is easier to teach students who are all the same!  Parents also take a much more hands-off approach when it comes to  raising their children from tying their shoe laces to college selection.  Things such as this are the reason why making international comparisons based on a single set of test scores are so difficult to analyze and interpret.Life in Finland is very  different from life in the US in every respect imaginable.  Tests such as TIMMS have long praised the math performance of students in Singapore but make no mention of the deplorable situation in that country where all students with disabilities such as Down Syndrome are required to attend special schools.

Nonetheless there is much to be learned from the schools in Finland, something Bernie Sanders has been advocating for for some time. Perhaps it's time to abandon the standards-based movement that, I think, has been responsible for much of the decline of student performance and happiness and give power back to well trained teachers so that they can, once again, teach students and not teach standards or text books.

Here's a wonderful short video by Michael Moore that gives us a glimpse of schools in Finland. Notice the words of the math teacher in particular.

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