Friday, March 2, 2012

A Finnish Education Field Trip

If you're intrigued by what's been happening in schools in Finland over the last several years, you now have an outstanding opportunity to get an intimate look into one of the world's best education systems. (If you don't know what's been happening in Finland, check my last post and look for my next post.) Now, let's take a field trip to Finland...

OK, as much as I'm sure you'd like to empty your professional development coffers for a ticket to Finland, I have a much more affordable plan. I have some great resources for you to really see what's happening in Finland's schools. First, I recommend you watch The Finland Phenomenon on DVD. You'll recognize your tour guide through Finland to be Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap (highly recommended) and Harvard education guru. The Finland Phenomenon takes you inside Finnish schools and presents a firsthand account of what has made Finnish schools so successful in recent years. I guarantee you'll find the documentary fascinating and inspiring. Hopefully, after you watch the DVD, you'll be asking, "If I can't move my school to Finland, how can I bring some of Finland to my school?" I did.

After you watch the DVD, pick up a copy of Finnish Lessons by Pasi Sahlberg. This book provides much more detail than the DVD on the nuts and bolts of the Finnish education system. Furthermore, the book explains the history of the education reform movement in Finland. Sahlberg paints a very clear picture of why education matters in Finland, why Finland made the move toward a new educational paradigm, how teacher training changed and what makes the educational process in Finland markedly different from the rest of the world. Get a pen, some paper and several highlighters because this book contains a wealth of information, facts, data and educational philosophy that should get your mind racing about the possibilities of reforming teaching and learning in your school or district.
Below are a few articles about education in Finland for those of you who want extra resources or who can't wait for the book and DVD to come in the mail:
Have fun on your field trip to Finland!

In my next post, I'll present some of the key strategies Finland used to catapult themselves into the world educational spotlight, some characteristics of Finnish schools and some Finnish educational philosophy.

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