Friday, January 6, 2012

Finland's educational goal? Equity in education.

If you're interested in education and have just a few minutes I would highly recommend reading an article in The Atlantic entitled "What Americans keep ignoring about Finland's school success".  Following are just a few insights from Finland's highly successful public educational model.
  1. They don't have private schools.  All are invested in their public school system.  (In the US the approach seems to be to send one's child off to a private school or start up a charter school if you don't like your local public school).
  2. They only have one standardized test near matriculation of voluntary upper secondary school. Teachers independently devise their own tests to measure progress. (No teaching to the frequently required standardized tests).
  3. The main motivation is cooperation between teachers and schools. (The latest trend in the US is competition).
  4. Free school meals, access to health care, psychological counseling and guidance are offered to ALL students in the Finish school system. (The trend in the US is to access activity fees for most everything and staff fewer guidance counselors.).
  5. Teaching is a prestigious well paid profession which requires a masters degree. (Teachers seem more apt to be reviled rather than revered in the US, and only require a bachelors degree). 
  6. Though not discussed in the article, Finland also supports a love of music and the arts throughout their school system.  (The arts and vocational opportunities have been dramatically reduced with the increased emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic in the US).
The corporate takeover of our school system is not working.  I hope that we might lean from Finland, and not simply discard them as socialist.  As Paul Wellstone liked to opine, "We all do better, when we all do better."  I hope that we might learn from Finland and start doing better for all of our students in this country.  

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