Friday, February 13, 2009

Learning from Finland

Who would have guessed that Finland would be a world leader in educational achievement? Given that you almost never see the country in the news, apparently their world rankings on all sorts of measurements puts them at the elite level. They're in the metaphorical gifted and talented class for education. And now Texas school reformers want to see how they do it. (By the way, does it seem kind of weird that after years of implementing educational reform policies on the national level that have come out of Texas that they're just now looking to see what works in other countries?)

According to the Dallas News report on this meeting of the minds, Finnish schools hold three traits that the U.S. might do well to adopt.

1) Establish a single curriculum for all schools
2) Setting high expectations for all students and providing extra support for the students who need it to meet those expectations
3) Giving well-trained teachers (they all have masters degrees) the freedom to teach as they see fit

I have a few reservations about the first point and I'm not entirely sure how it would meld together with the third. But outside of that, I'm all on board with the Finns. Help kids meet high expectations. Let the educational experts (teachers) use what's best for their classrooms. These don't seem like revolutionary ideas, but maybe it'll take a bunch of Texans traveling to Finland to help make it happen over here.

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