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What's the Secret to Finland's Education Success?

Liz Dwyer

No standardized tests and only 30 minutes of homework per day for high school students? Despite such laid back academic practices, for the past decade Finland's ranked at the top on international assessments. But the secret to their success isn't what the Finns aren't doing. Instead, their education ambassador, Pasi Sahlberg, says the spirit of collaboration, the autonomy that teachers are given, and the focus on societal equity are the keys to success.

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  • Ben Goldhirsh

    such a great read, Liz. Thanks for sharing.

    • Liz Dwyer

      Glad to share! I'm a big fan of Pasi Sahlberg, and I appreciate his common sense approach.

  • Hannah Kim

    This is fascinating! Even though their system is perfect and not easily exportable (as emphasized by the author of the article) I still think we have a lot to learn from their methods. I think that America's primary education system is severely outdated & moving toward a more open and equal system such as Finland's would be a step in the right direction.

    • Liz Dwyer

      Agreed. I really appreciated how clear they are that we can't necessarily just plug-and-play what they're doing, but so much of what we're doing here in the U.S. seems like the exact opposite of what's working for the Finns.

  • Kris Giere

    The more I learn about the Finnish system, the more envious I become. This is not due to the test results, the minimization of homework, or the retention and graduation rates. I am envious because it was found on two principles that I hold dear: equity and pride. They started out with the mission to give the very best efforts that they could to each and every student in their country. I am indeed envious. Thanks for sharing, Liz!

    • Liz Dwyer

      Glad to share, Kris. I don't want to idolize the Finns completely because I know they have issues there, too, but I often feel that same envy. Here in the U.S. we're adopting education policies that our peers in other parts of the world know don't work. And, on top of that, we say we have a meritocracy, all the while fostering societal inequality. Indeed, one of the big questions I've been pondering lately is how do we reverse course on when it seems like we're on an education Titanic?

      • Kris Giere

        I completely agree with your view, Liz. Our system is dysfunctional at best. However, I am more of the view of Ken Robinson on the topic of reform. We really can't turn the ship around, and we shouldn't. We need to board a new ship entirely.