Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fascinated With Finnish Education

If you've been paying attention at all to education news over the last several years, you surely will have noticed that Finland keeps coming up in discussions about education reform. Finland first caught my attention some time ago because its educational system drew rave reviews from a few articles in a number or publications. The more I read, the more fascinated I became.

How is it that this nation with a population not much larger than the city in which I live has propelled itself to the top of OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations whose students sit for the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) exam every three years? How is it that this seemingly random nation consistently has outperformed students in Korea, Japan, Singapore and other places well-known for intensely rigorous educational systems?

All the articles I read touted teacher recruitment and teacher training (teacher programs at universities are very competitive and all teachers must have a master's degree, for example). While I realized that was a step in the right direction, I knew that couldn't be the only variable that set Finland apart. I scoured the internet for more articles and read them voraciously. Then I discovered two more items that really filled in the gaps for me and, quite frankly, inspired me.

What are those two items? I've recently finished (I so wanted to type "Finnished" but I figured that would be too corny) an excellent, recently published book and I've watched (multiple times) an inspiring video, both of which are intimate looks at the Finnish educational system. What happens in Finland is markedly different from what we do in the United States. In my next post, I'll share the info about the book and the DVD, and I'll give some bullet points about what Finland does that has landed Finnish schools in the international spotlight.

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