Finland, Finland, Finland

August 12, 2013

For fans of Monty Python’s Spamalot, when you hear “Finland”, a song comes to mind.

For educators, Finland has become a byword for successful public education. A recent article in the Guardian provides a relatively nuanced account of the Finnish system. You can read the article here.

40 years ago, Finland set out to improve its  education system as part of its economic development program. Their success became clear in the 2000 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results that showed Finnish students to be the best readers in the world.  Subsequent results in math and science have been equally impressive.

All of this from a system with little standardized testing, high teacher autonomy,  limited homework, and  where ability grouping is illegal.

U.S. researchers and practitioners have been looking for lessons to import from Finland.  The’ve also wrestled with the cultural variables that lay underneath that success and the implications for applying Finnish lessons here.

Below you can see Pasi Sahlberg, noted Finnish educational leader, reflect on the Finnish system and its cultural roots.

At the end of his talk, Mr. Sahlberg sums up the values of Finnish education that I think we can all embrace: “If you’re hungry, if you’re afraid,  if you live without love and caring, you will not learn.”







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