Monday, February 20, 2012

Taking a Page From Finland: Where 21st Century Education Needs To Shift

If we are to see any real change for the better of our educational system and the students that benefit from it, we will need to have a shift in values. American needs to take a lesson from a country that is having success not by pushing high-stakes testing or merit-pay, but by focusing on what is truly best for the learner. BBC did a story about Finland's Educational Success.

The story portrayed a world of education far different from the one we experience in America. The curriculum in Finland emphasized relaxing and being comfortable in the classroom- taking shoes off and calling teachers by their first names. One teacher said she was the students' "school mom". It seemed to be a no stress, or at least low stress environment for all students. This fact is amazing considering that the Finland schools are some of the most successful schools in the world.

One of the stand out points of the Finland educational system is that the students were not compared to each other, and there were no failing students. Learning isn't a competition in Finland- there were no winners or losers. The collaboration and team work shown in the Finland schools is far different from America. In a classroom setting, three teachers were assigned to each class and one was especially designated to help the slower learners. All the students helped to teach each other; they worked to help students who were behind. Here in America the emphasis is on getting ahead and education becomes a competition. It's everyone for himself-"gotta be a winner". If a student needs help he is too embarrassed to ask- no one wants to be the dumb kid- the loser.

The Finnish culture is a big part of their successful education system. The way that they value education and hold it important to them is so different from America. They don't see education as just a stepping stone, or a job, or something to put on a resume. It is a valued part of their lives and their families. They embrace education as something beautiful, personal, and meaningful. There is no drill and kill. They spend the least hours in school of any country, and they perform the best. Another aspect of their success is the trust the people put in the schools and teachers- trust was emphasized. The parents and leaders trusted that the teachers would always do the best for their children. The teachers and parents worked together to educate the students. In America parents often don't take responsibility for the education of their children- they see it as the school's responsibility.

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