The Daily Riff is updating and curating the best key story links about Finland and their intensely watched and admired education system ("the best in the world"). Here is the most recent from Business Insider, which is getting a lot of whoa's from people who even lose interest in top ten lists. Finnish students rank top of the charts in international studies of standardized testing (PISA).
Below is a top ten list via Cooperative Catalyst via via Parenting Magazine's Mom Congress 2012 summarizing the traits of the much admired and controversial Finnish education. The Finns seem to do exactly opposite the growing U.S. education agenda:
- Finland does not give their kids standardized tests.
- Individual schools have curriculum autonomy; individual teachers have classroom autonomy.
- It is not mandatory to give students grades until they are in the 8th grade.
- All teachers are required to have a master's degree.
- Finland does not have a culture of negative accountability for their teachers. According to Partanen, "bad" teachers receive more professional development; they are not threatened with being fired.
- Finland has a culture of collaboration between schools, not competition. Most schools, according to Partanen, perform at the same level, so there is no status in attending a particular facility.
- Finland has no private schools.
- Education emphasis is "equal opportunity to all."They value equality over excellence.
- A much higher percentage of Finland's educational budget goes directly into the classroom than it does in the US, as administrators make approximately the same salary as teachers. This also makes Finland's education more affordable than it is in the US.
- Finnish culture values childhood independence; one example: children mostly get themselves to school on their own, by walking or bicycling, etc. Helicopter parenting isn't really in their vocabulary.
- Finnish schools don't assign homework, because it is assumed that mastery is attained in the classroom.
- Finnish schools have sports, but no sports teams. Competition is not valued.
- The focus is on the individual child. If a child is falling behind, the highly trained teaching staff recognizes this need and immediately creates a plan to address the child's individual needs. Likewise, if a child is soaring ahead and bored, the staff is trained and prepared to appropriately address this as well.
- Partanen correlated the methods and success of their public schools to US private schools. We already have a model right here at home.
- Compulsory school in Finland doesn't begin until children are 7 years old.
What are Finland's strengths? Perhaps the quickest way to get the big picture is this slide show, or this new and the most in-depth being the above-titled documentary film, "The Finland Phenomenon." Even if you read all the articles about the Finland school system, I highly recommend you watch the documentary - it fills in the blanks left bare by generalities.
Can the U.S. and other countries learn from Finland? Or, as some argue, is this an "outlier" country (translate: a country that teaches others no real lessons to others)? We also find juxtaposing Finland's practices with Singapore and Japan, there are several key common themes shared by all, but not witnessed in the U.S., such as teacher autonomy, along with some key differences. You be the decider, and let us know what your riff is, on or off-line. - C.J. Westerberg
(Bob Compton produced the controversial "2 Million Minutes" edu-documentary; also
featuring Tony Wagner, author and educator, "The Global Achievement Gap")
#2 - 30 second Quik-Vid on "Teachers Key to Finland Education"
#3 - Dan Rather and HD NET - "Finnish First"
#4 - NEW New School Venture Fund Summit 2013 - Video - What America Can Learn from the World's Leading Schools
What Americans Keep Ignoring about Finland's School Success via The Atlantic
26 Amazing Facts about Finland's Unorthodox Education System via Business Insider
The Children Must Play - The New Republic
The Final Word is Always Finland - Quick and the ED
Finland's Educational Success? The Anti-Tiger Mom Approach
Interview with Finland Minister of Education
Steve Hargadon's "Future of Education" Podcast on Finnish & American Education Perspectives on Learning Communities (Well worth the visit!)