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Finnish Lessons: What Can The World Learn From Educational Change In Finland? (2011)

by Pasi Sahlberg(Favorite Author)
3.93 of 5 Votes: 3
0807752576 (ISBN13: 9780807752579)
Teachers College Press
review 1: While the education system in Finland is fascinating, this book provides less applicable information than I would have liked. The author, a former Finnish teacher and (current?) executive of World Bank, provides lots of tables comparing test scores from around the globe and repeatedly emphasizes Finland's academic dominance. He repeats over and over again that this success is due to 1. revering the teaching career, 2. excellent teacher training, and 3. a minimum of testing. However, he doesn't provide much information on *how* Finland trains teachers, cultivates a culture where teaching is revered, etc. There aren't standardized grades, so how *is* assessment carried out? What sort of teacher training and continuing education leads to such excellence? Additionally, I could... moren't find any information from a parent's/citizen's perspective. Do people mind paying hefty taxes in exchange for the education their children receive? What are alternatives to the public school system (homeschooling? private/religious schools?) and why do people choose them?Overall, it's a good book and a solid introduction to the Finnish school system, but I would've liked more of the "how" and less of the "what."
review 2: Pasi Sahlberg taught in a Finnish school, then ran professional development strategy for ministry of education, followed by stint at the World Bank helping to provide support for countries around the globe. His main message to US education reformers: "You're doing it ALL WRONG."The US and global education generally have moved to 5 common features:Standardization, or outcomes-based education reliant on high stakes testing. Focus on core subjects at the expense of social studies, music, arts, etc. Prescribed curriculum at the expense of freedom to experiment in the classroom. Transfer of corporate models. Accountability policies, such as merit-based pay. These features are common to Bush admin No Child Left Behind and Obama admin Race To The Top. Yet "No successful system has ever led with these drivers." Finland emphasizes confidence in teachers and principals, bringing together govt policy, professional involvement, and public engagement to the educational vision. Developing the capacities of schools is much more important than testing the hell out of students. Choice, competition and privatization are not the answer. Finland has consistently had the top performing educational system in the world. It went thru 3 stages of reform beginning in the 1970s, driven by the principles of the Nordic welfare state - the legacy of liberated peasants, the spirit of capitalism and the utopia of communism - Equality, Efficiency, and Solidarity. Finland has no high-stakes testing until the very end of secondary school (high school). All students are given equal opportunity and special education is an integral part of curriculum. Career guidance and counseling are compulsory. Teachers must have a masters degree and have done research into teaching and learning styles. All schools are funded by the state, but are managed locally. The paradoxes of Finnish education:1. Teach less, learn more. Lowest hours of instruction and teaching hours among major countries. 2. Test less, learn more. Rather than teaching to standardized tests, teachers assess in the classroom and via report cards. Teachers are prepared to design and use various assessment methods. 3. More equity through diversity. Finland has had rapid growth of immigrants, though not of citizens, as one requirement is proficiency in one of the local languages. They are committed to educating all, however, and immigrants average much higher scores than peers in other countries. Interestingly, research shows that diversity in the classroom is a benefit, but once the ratio reaches 20%, achievement of all declines. Becoming a teacher is a great achievement in Finland, requiring an advanced degree. As such, teachers are held in very high regard in society. Also, the challenge of becoming a teacher motivates people more than the potential to earn a high salary (Finnish teachers are paid average teacher wages). The degree required to be a teacher also is attractive to employers outside the educational field, so students know they will have other options if they so choose. Professional development and networking are also strongly promoted. less
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Good information, but badly written and often repetitious.
Lots of statistics; I wanted more day-to-day description.
One of the most engaging books on education so far!
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