Since Newsweek ranked Finland #1 in quality of life last year, we have to wonder how they got there. Part of that ranking includes their EDUCATION SYSTEM. For the last 30 years or so, Finnish students have been scoring consistently high, and we have been in the middle somewhere.
There are a few major reasons why Finland is at the top of the heap. They ASSIGN LESS HOMEWORK and ALLOW CREATIVE PLAY in schools. There are NO PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN FINLAND. None are allowed to charge tuition. Almost every person in Finland attends public school whether it’s for preschool or a PhD. They have NO STANDARDIZED TESTS. Rather, they use teacher-made assessments and students are graded individually by their teachers. They give their teachers and administrators PRESTIGE, DECENT PAY and A LOT OF RESPONSIBILITY. (You must have a Master’s degree to teach in Finland.) They use COOPERATION between teachers and schools, not competition. They have FREE SCHOOL MEALS, FREE ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE, FREE PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELING, and INDIVIDUALIZED STUDENT GUIDANCE.
The word “accountability” doesn’t even exist in Finnish. “Accountability is something that is left when responsibility is subtracted.”
One point that stood out to me was, “Every child should have the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income or geographic location.” It is not a way to produce star performers, but is used as an tool to even out social inequality. When the focus is on EQUITY, not academic excellence, they GOT academic excellence!
Their focus is on cooperation rather than competition, and on equity rather than choice. Food for thought, folks. Food for thought.