The Finns are as surprised as much as anyone else that they have recently emerged as the new rock stars of global education. It surprises them because they do as little measuring and testing as they can get away with. They just don't believe it does much good. They did, however, decide to participate in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), run by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). And to put it in a way that would make the noncompetitive Finns cringe, they kicked major butt. The Finns have participated in the global survey four times and have usually placed among the top three finishers in reading, math and science.The closest competitors are China and Korea where they use an oppressive rote memorization technique rather than one stimulating hands-on learning and student inquiry. So here in the US, we have a choice. We can either crack the whip and lose our creative edge and crap-can our joy of learning in the same snap, or we can move more clearly and firmly in the direction offered by Clear Spring and the hearty Finns.
In the latest PISA survey, in 2009, Finland placed second in science literacy, third in mathematics and second in reading. The U.S. came in 15th in reading, close to the OECD average, which is where most of the U.S.'s results fell.
The photo above is of students testing the mineral exploration tools they made in the Clear Spring School wood shop.
Make, fix and create.