From Bob Kansky. Our thanks to him for providing 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: http://www.businessinsider.com/finlands-education-system-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]
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E-mail:   jbecker@siu.edu