Finland’s Educational Excellence

In an eye-opening piece in The Atlantic, Anu Partanen describes the emphasis on equity in the Finnish education system, one of the best in the world:

Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality.

In the Finnish view, as Sahlberg describes it, this means that schools should be healthy, safe environments for children. This starts with the basics. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.

To accomplish this, teachers are compensated well, their training is rigorous, and they are held in high regard. Cooperation, rather than competition, is emphasized. Next to no standardized testing is done, rather teachers design and implement their own assessments. Amazingly, each of these emphases stands in direct opposition to U.S. educational policy over the last 20+ years. When will it be time to try something new?

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