My fifth grade teacher sent me this article about the differences between education in Finland and the U.S. She is now the Board President at the school I went to as a child, and she has a passion for improving public education that she shares on her Facebook page. We can learn a thing or two from other countries on this topic, so I thought I would share.
Learning from Finland
Leadership ‘12 hosted movie night at Winter Governance in Corpus Christi, Texas. Robert Compton skyped with board members to discuss “The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Inspiring School System.” Seeking more information led me to a blog by Larry Ferlazzo’s, The Best Resource to Learn About Finland’s Education System.
- TIME - Finnish students don’t start school until 7 years of age. By then, children are eager to learn and attend school. According to Samuel E. Abrams in The New Republic, Finnish education provides students with far more recess than their U.S. counterparts-75 minutes a day in Finnish elementary schools versus and average of 27 minutes in the U.S. “ The children can’t learn if they don’t play. The children must play,” states Principal Heikkinen. Students attend nine years of compulsory education.
- TEACHERS - Finland‘s educators work in an inspiring, respectful environment. Highly trained teachers work as autonomous professionals playing important roles in curriculum and assessment. This attracts some of the most able and talented young Finns into teaching careers with competitive salaries. Education leaders are former teachers, building a strong sense of professional skills and community.
- TESTING - Finland has a different approach to student testing and how data is used. Finnish children don’t take standardized tests. Nor are standardized tests used to compare teachers or schools. Assessments inform leaders about how well the education system works, which places no pressure on schools or students. External testing is not imposed on schools.
- TRUST - Finns value education. There is a culture of trust for schools, teachers and the education system. Teachers only rank behind police in regard to trust.
Finnish education focuses on equity and cooperation-not choice and competition.
“The Finland Phenomenon”, coming in June to TASB Summer Leadership Institute near you. Trust me, this timely movie will teach you something, but there is no test. - Margaret G. Holmes, Board President, Iraan-Sheffield ISD
I found it fascinating that a more relaxed approach with an emphasis on creativity may actually stimulate learning. As a former museum educator, I’ve always been a supporter of informal learning combined with structured teaching in schools. And as for testing, I scored higher than our valedictorian on the SATs, but she certainly performed better than I did in college and is now a successful accountant. I think the only thing a test proves is how well you can take a test. I was just more relaxed than she was when test day came.
What styles of learning or teaching do you prefer? What do you think is best for your children? I plan to research how education is approached in other countries and post more blogs on this topic. Let me know what you think.