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Topic: What can the world learn from educ'l change in Finland?
Replies: 1   Last Post: Dec 5, 2012 3:28 AM

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GS Chandy

Posts: 8,307
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Re: What can the world learn from educ'l change in Finland?
Posted: Dec 4, 2012 10:43 PM
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Responding to Jerry Becker's post of Dec 4, 2012 11:32 PM (pasted below my signature for reference):

Excellent! Thank you for posting that, Professor Becker. In this context, I had responded (see to an earlier post from Jerry Becker, making several of the same points brought up by Bob Kansky in his excellent precis of Pasi Sahlberg's book. (Those points in my message I had taken from the captions of the slides posted in Jerry Becker's post).

There is, however, a difficulty that has not, I believe, been adequately articulated. Namely, we have usefully asked the question in the title of this thread, "What can the world learn from educ'l change in Finland?"

However, that question, while certainly necessary, may not be quite SUFFICIENT to do the trick for the USA (or for the world; or for India, in which I am particularly interested, for that matter).

Why not? I believe it is because adults find it almost impossible to learn anything, if they use the conventional means of 'learning'.

We also need to ask a further question: "WILL the world learn ... from Finland?"

To judge by the performance thus far, the answer must be "NO". After all, Pasi Sahlberg made several lecture trips to the USA; published his excellent book in 2011 - and still we find the same old recommendations spewing forth in the USA:

(We have analogues to these in India).

Both commands (or empty slogans) have clearly been demonstrated to have zero value (or even negative value, insofar as utility to the 'education system' goes). But they still keep issuing forth fervently!

Evidently the question in the title of this post is not quite 'sufficient'. Nor, for that matter, is the 'next question' I had posed above: "WILL the world learn ... from Finland?"

Even this is not quite sufficient.

But, attached to my post at are a couple of documents describing tools and processes that could show a means that could actually take us forward - in the USA; in India; in the world. People interested in actually working practically to develop, in consensus, an effective educational system, will find useful tools described there.

Jerry Becker's post of Dec 4, 2012 11:32 PM:
> ************************************
> From Bob Kansky. Our thanks to him for providing
> g this. He reduced the
> 167 pages of the book Finnish Lessons: What can the
> world learn from
> educational change in Finland? by Pasi Sahlberg,
> Director General of
> the Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation
> at the Finnish
> Ministry of Education (2011), to 9 pages that make
> the attachment.
> This follows the posting Tuesday, November 27, 2012
> on "Why Finland's
> Unorthodox Education System Is The Best In The World"
> to which there
> was an enthusiastic response - as Bob writes, this
> puts flesh on the
> 27 interesting slides found at the Business Insider
> given in the
> earlier posting:
> em-best-in-world-2012-11?op=1
> ************************************
> Introduction to Finnish Lessons: What can the world
> learn from
> educational change in Finland?
> In the course of about three decades (1980-2010), the
> national
> education system of Finland progressed from one which
> was "nothing
> special" to one that produces students whose academic
> achievement is
> so consistently outstanding that Finland's system is
> often referred
> to as the best in the world. This book describes how
> Finland
> achieved that transformation.
> In Finnish Lessons, Pasi Sahlberg Director General of
> the Centre for
> International Mobility and Cooperation at the Finnish
> Ministry of
> Education, details the policy decisions that guided
> that
> transformation. He documents the choice of policies
> that chose not
> to embrace "tougher competition, more data,
> abolishing teacher
> unions, opening more charter schools, or employing
> corporate-world
> management models in education systems." To the
> contrary, Finnish
> policies focused on "improving the teaching force,
> limiting student
> testing to a necessary minimum, placing
> responsibility and trust
> before accountability, and handing over school- and
> district-level
> leadership to education professionals." The result
> is an educational
> system that "lacks school inspection, standardized
> curriculum,
> high-stakes student assessments, test-based
> accountability, and a
> race-to-the-top mentality with regard to educational
> change."
> Sahlberg characterizes the policies of the current
> system as (a)
> having a vision of education committed to building a
> publicly
> financed and locally governed basic school for every
> child, (b)
> building on educational ideas from other nations to
> produce the
> unique "Finnish Way" that "preserves the best of
> traditions and
> present good practices," and (c) systematically
> developing respectful
> and interesting working conditions for teachers and
> leaders in
> Finnish schools. The Finnish experience in building
> an education
> system in which all students learn well is one that
> has focused on
> equity and cooperation rather than choice and
> competition and that
> rejects the paying of teachers based on students'
> test scores or
> converting public schools to private schools.
> The text of Finnish Lessons details ten underlying
> notions.
> 1. The current Finnish system of education is one in
> which students
> learn well and performance differences among schools
> are small.
> 2. The above has not always been so.
> 3. Teaching is widely viewed as a prestigious
> profession.
> 4. Finland has one of the world's most competitive
> teacher-preparation systems.
> 5. Finnish teachers have a great deal of
> professional autonomy and
> lifelong access to purposeful professional
> development.
> 6. Those who become teachers typically are "teachers
> for life."
> 7. Almost half of the students completing the
> Finnish nine-year
> comprehensive school (the peruskoulu) have
> experienced some sort of
> special education.
> 8. Finnish teachers invest less time in teaching and
> Finnish
> students spend less time in studying than do their
> peers in other
> countries.
> 9. Finnish schools do not engage in standardized
> testing, test
> preparation, or private tutoring.
> 10. The policies and practices of Finnish education
> are contrary to
> those of those of most other countries of the world
> -- specifically,
> those of the United States.
> The current, and highly effective Finnish system of
> education is the
> result of decades of determined and continuous
> refinement of policies
> and practices. Finland did not attempt to simply
> transplant the
> ideas of education into the Finnish system; rather it
> modified
> promising ideas to fit the Finnish context. Neither
> did the process
> for improving education Finland jump from one "big
> idea" to another;
> rather, it committed to informed, long-term
> refinement of policies
> and practices based upon educators' evaluation of the
> effects of
> those policies and practices on student learning.
> Go to the attachment for Bob Kansky's pages.
> ************************************************
> --
> Jerry P. Becker
> Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
> Southern Illinois University
> 625 Wham Drive
> Mail Code 4610
> Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
> Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
> (618) 457-8903 [H]
> Fax: (618) 453-4244
> E-mail:

Message was edited by: GS Chandy

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