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Old 10-18-2011, 04:21 PM  
mohel
 
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Why Finland?s schools are great (by doing what we don?t)

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Ravitch: Why Finland’s schools are great (by doing what we don’t) - The Answer Sheet - The Washington Post

This was written by education historian Diane Ravitch for her Bridging Differences blog, which she co-authors with Deborah Meier on the Education Week website. Ravitch and Meier exchange letters about what matters most in education.

Quote:
What makes the Finnish school system so amazing is that Finnish students never take a standardized test until their last year of high school, when they take a matriculation examination for college admission.

Their own teachers design their tests, so teachers know how their students are doing and what they need. There is a national curriculum ? broad guidelines to assure that all students have a full education ? but it is not prescriptive. Teachers have extensive responsibility for designing curriculum and pedagogy in their school. They have a large degree of autonomy, because they are professionals.

Admission to teacher education programs at the end of high school is highly competitive; only one in 10 ? or even fewer ? qualify for teacher preparation programs. All Finnish teachers spend five years in a rigorous program of study, research, and practice, and all of them finish with a masters? degree. Teachers are prepared for all eventualities, including students with disabilities, students with language difficulties, and students with other kinds of learning issues.

The schools I visited reminded me of our best private progressive schools. They are rich in the arts, in play, and in activity. I saw beautiful campuses, including some with outstanding architecture, filled with light. I saw small classes; although the official class size for elementary school is 24, I never saw a class with more than 19 children (and that one had two assistant teachers to help children with special needs).

Teachers and principals repeatedly told me that the secret of Finnish success is trust. Parents trust teachers because they are professionals. Teachers trust one another and collaborate to solve mutual problems because they are professionals. Teachers and principals trust one another because all the principals have been teachers and have deep experience. When I asked about teacher attrition, I was told that teachers seldom leave teaching; it?s a great job, and they are highly respected.

And by the way, the Finnish teachers I saw ? those heaped with laurels as outstanding professionals ? didn?t look or act differently from many, many teachers I have seen in the United States, even in so-called ?failing schools.?

Finland has one other significant advantage over the United States. The child-poverty rate in Finland is under 4 percent. Here it is 22 percent and rising. It?s a well-known fact that family income is the most reliable predictor of academic performance. Finland has a strong social welfare system; we don?t. It is not a ?Socialist? nation, by the way. It is egalitarian and capitalist.

I was asked about current trends in U.S. education, and Finnish educators were astonished by the idea that our governments intend to evaluate teachers by their students? test scores; that made no sense to them. They were also surprised that we turn children over to ?teachers? who have only a few weeks of training and no masters? degree. They did not understand the idea of ?merit pay.? They are paid more if they do more work for the community, but they can?t understand why teachers should get a bonus to compete with one another for test scores. Since they don?t have comparative test scores for their students, our practices don?t make sense to them. Nor do they understand the benefits of competition among teachers who ought to be collaborating.

The current crop of corporate reformers get very upset by any mention of the Finnish model. They refuse to believe that a nation can have great schools without relying on high-stakes testing. They insist that Finland cannot serve as a model because it lacks racial diversity; but they fall silent when one points out that Finland has the same demographics as Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, and Norway, yet gets superior results. I am troubled by this ?lacks diversity? argument, because it implies that African-American and Hispanic children cannot benefit by having highly experienced teachers, small classes, and a curriculum rich in the arts and activities.

Here?s an interesting contrast: We claim to be preparing students for global competitiveness, and we reward mastery of basic skills. Our guiding principles: Competition, accountability, and choice. Finland has this singular goal: to develop the humanity of each child. Isn?t that a shocking goal? Their guiding principles: equity, creativity, and prosperity.

Finland rightly deserves attention today as a nation that treats its children as a precious resource and that honors the adults who make education their passion and their career.

Someday, I hope, we will recognize the failure of the behaviorist approach now in vogue; someday we will see that our current ?reforms? are appropriate for the industrial era of the early 20th century, not for the needs of the 21st century. When that day arrives, we will understand the deep wisdom of Finland, with its love for children and its respect for educators, and we will be grateful that there is a successful alternative to our own failed model.

Diane
Why Finland?s schools are great (by doing what we don?t)-farkstripper.jpg 

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Old 10-18-2011, 08:00 PM  
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I like this post!
That is all.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:13 PM  
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Great post .
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Old 10-19-2011, 04:37 PM  
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That wouldn't work here, we don't treat teachers like professionals, just baby sitters. It's one of the single biggest issues America is facing.
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Old 10-19-2011, 05:57 PM  
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Not just America, my friend. Teachers get no respect here either.

The problem is that many don't deserve any respect because the State tells them how to run their classes and they toe the party line without using their imaginations. It is a societal conundrum that needs to be rectified post haste, because as we all know, the men and women of the State are not even half way qualified to make those kinds of decisions.

Finland sounds like an eminently reasonable and intelligent society!
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Old 10-20-2011, 01:09 PM  
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...............

Quote:
Finland sounds like an eminently reasonable and intelligent society!
I'm surprised Finland finished ahead of Norway. There every child has the RIGHT to be exposed to all the arts from music thru literature & drama.
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Old 10-20-2011, 06:03 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blucher View Post
...............



I'm surprised Finland finished ahead of Norway. There every child has the RIGHT to be exposed to all the arts from music thru literature & drama.
And all we have is the Huffington Post to rival that
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Old 10-20-2011, 07:23 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blucher View Post
...............



I'm surprised Finland finished ahead of Norway. There every child has the RIGHT to be exposed to all the arts from music thru literature & drama.
I think Norsemen have had their priorities straight right from the start
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Old 10-21-2011, 01:55 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RiponredTJ View Post
Not just America, my friend. Teachers get no respect here either.

The problem is that many don't deserve any respect because the State tells them how to run their classes and they toe the party line without using their imaginations. It is a societal conundrum that needs to be rectified post haste, because as we all know, the men and women of the State are not even half way qualified to make those kinds of decisions.

Finland sounds like an eminently reasonable and intelligent society!
I'm sorry to hear that. I think the state has a lot to do with it but learning starts at home. Teachers are not indentured servants to the system or those who could not do, we need to realize the fundamental importance and quick as we are falling behind.
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Old 10-21-2011, 06:55 PM  
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Yes. Parents need to step up and stop thinking about their dollars and start nurturing their kids instead. Couldn't agree more.
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