What can be learned from Finland?

In case you have missed the discussion, here is why some in the educational community are looking at Finland these days. Put simply – how do they get the kind of educational results that they are getting? What is their secret?

Well, one reason that we should pay attention to Finland is that since PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests have been inaugurated over a decade ago, Finland has consistently been at the top of the charts! Tony Wagner from Harvard wanted to get answers to the above questions; his Finland visit and reflections are captured on a recent hour long movie that has come out: “The Finland Phenomenon.”  As you will see from just the video trailer below they do some things very differently from typical North American schools.

I find that their approach is a much more attractive model for Christian schools to follow than that of our public sector schools who are being forced to a greater and greater degree into test-based accountability, more prescribed curriculum, more focus on only core subjects, and greater control. I believe that the Biblical principles, such as honoring the learner as image-bearer and operating with a high degree of trust, are lived out to a greater degree in the public schools of Finland than in North America. Canadian blogger/teacher Joe Bower put it this way: “Finland’s successful pursuit of policies driven by diversity, trust, respect, professionalism, equity, responsibility and collaboration refute every aspect of reforms that focus on choice, competition, accountability and testing that are being expanded in countries around the world.”

If you would like to learn more, I suggest you start by purchasing the video and watching it with your staff – it should spark a profitable discussion. If you Google “Finland Phenomenon,” you will also find many other blog posts and discussions on the topic – it is gaining a lot of attention.

How can we argue with the results?

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5 Comments

Filed under change, leadership, mission development, mission measurement, resources, staff development, student outcomes, uncategorized

5 responses to “What can be learned from Finland?

  1. Lester Flaquer

    Gracias por el link. Conozco de este modelo desde hace ya algn tiempo y creo que seramos ganadores si como nacin pudisemos implementarlo. Muchas de las propuestas; edad tarda para iniciar el ciclo escolar, escolaridad reducida, evaluaciones a otro nivel, entre otras cosas, pudieran ser un hito a imitar. Te recomiendo el libro de Andrs Openhaimer “Basta de Historias” , donde l habla y analiza este modelo y el de los pases mas desarrollados en educacin en todo el mundo.

    Lester Flaquer lesterflaquer@logos.edu.do

    • Gracias, Lester! For English readers here is the translation of what Lester shared:

      Thanks for the link. I know of this model for quite some time and I think we would be winners if we could implement it as a nation. Many of the proposals; late age to start the school year, school reduced to another level assessments, among other things, could be a milestone to imitate. I recommend the book by Andrew Openhaimer “Stop Stories”, where he talks and analyzes this model and the most developed countries in education worldwide.

      Thanks for the book recommendation – I am interested in reading it and learning more! Dan Beerens, author of Nurturing Faith blog

  2. I’ve been reading a lot about Finland’s approach to training teachers lately, and I find it really interesting. From my reading, it seems that schools of education in Finland begin actively recruiting the “brightest and best” in high school already to groom them into great teachers. Only 10% of the folks who apply to enter a school of education actually end up in the classroom. Their teacher education programs seem to be 5-year programs that culminate in a Masters degree. (So, by default, Finnish teachers all have a Masters-level education before they step into their own classrooms.)

    I wonder if that sort of preparation program leads to a more professional status for teachers too? Let’s face it, in many Christian schools, we don’t have a very high standard for the teaching staff. And I find this a little ridiculous–shouldn’t we hold ourselves to even higher standards?

    I was at a Christian teachers’ convention this past week, and one of the speakers I heard really got at this idea. I’m paraphrasing, but here’s the gist of it: “Imagine a parent praying over his or her child just before the school year starts: ‘Lord, please bless my child with an average teacher this year.’ That’s crazy, right? But the sad truth is that most teachers–even in Christian schools–are average…to awful.”

    So, I’m with you, Dan. It sure seems like the Finns are doing something worth looking at!

  3. Pingback: An intriguing bag of “learning” gifts at year’s end « Nurturing Faith

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