Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why Finland's schools do get the best results.

I posted a link to this yesterday, but found the video to share, as I think this is very interesting and extremely important. Besides the fact that Finland leads the world in reading and math, they spend far less time on the subjects, and less money, for far better results. I could spend a great deal of time telling what the video describes, and so I hope you will see for yourselves.

There are a number of parallels between Clear Spring School and the remarkable schools of Finland, so while there are thousands of educational tourists flocking to Helsinki, there is a role model far closer to home.

While American CEO's want the three character traits in their employees, creativity, responsibility and teamwork skills, you will see those three things nurtured in Finland schools, while we in the US, spending far more money are investing in a culture of standardized testing and educational lunacy and failing our kids. The Finns engender those character traits without dropping the ball on the core subjects. In fact, I think the case could be made that they do best on the core subjects because they have laid the foundation for lifelong learning.

In the meantime, we must all remain undaunted by the challenges at hand, for they truly are at hand. Our hands have the capacity when engaged to create educational enthusiasm and the desire for lifelong learning.


  1. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Well, it probably helps a lot more that they have such a homogeneous white population that all speaks the same language.

  2. They may be mostly white, but they don't all speak the same language. They have two national languages, Finnish and Swedish, street signs in both languages and some tension between the two. That they are the same culture is the big excuse that people throw around to rationalize their success, but there is actually a lot more. The relationship between school and home started in the Finnish Folk School by Uno Cygnaeus in the 1860's is important.

    Lots of Americans want to use our racial and cultural mix as an excuse, but that our schools perform so poorly can't be blamed on our diversity, but rather on our national lack of will. As Freidrich Froebel said, "Let us live for our children." Finnish schools were based on the teachings of Freidrich Froebel.

  3. Anonymous8:39 PM

    OK, I'm just saying that comparing a tiny mostly-white European country to the entire United States doesn't tell us that much. Our mostly-white Massachusetts is doing just great in terms of educational achievement, and that state alone is bigger than Finland.

  4. The interesting things about Finland isn't that they are so successful, but that they are successful by doing all the wrong things in comparison to what educational experts in the US are addicted to. In response to the American fixation on standardized testing and adherence to standards a Finnish education leader noted, "If you want an elephant to grow, you don't weigh it, you feed it." And their philosophy is thus completely different from our own obsession with tests and measurements.

  5. Anonymous5:03 AM

    As an added comment on diversity, some of the best students in my classes were generally from the ESL program. They were from Africa, Asia and South America, weak in English, but very focused on the value they saw in education.


  6. Anonymous8:22 AM

    "In response to the American fixation on standardized testing and adherence to standards a Finnish education leader noted, "If you want an elephant to grow, you don't weigh it, you feed it."

    False choice. Who says you can't do both? You feed the elephant to make it grow, and then you occasionally weigh it to see how much it's grown (rather than just relying on blind guesswork).

  7. The point is that testing should not be the dominant force in education, but rather teaching.

  8. Also, I should note that the observations of a trained teacher are not "guess work." They can't be as easily read on a spread sheet, but teachers have been tracking student performance for far longer than we've had standardized testing, and teachers have had standards since the time of Comenius.