Why do Finland's schools get the best results? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 04-10-2010, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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An Interesting article! Some of it sounds kind of Waldorfy without the Anthroposophy,no Reading until 7,the same teachers for several years.

Why do Finland's schools get the best results?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programme...ca/8601207.stm
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#2 of 27 Old 04-10-2010, 05:29 PM
 
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It is very interesting. They mentioned several things in the article that intuitively makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks for sharing the link.

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#3 of 27 Old 04-10-2010, 06:39 PM
 
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I read the article, but didn't watch the videos. It sounds like there are better and more teachers, especially for the outliers. That would make a huge difference.
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#4 of 27 Old 04-10-2010, 07:13 PM
 
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Honestly, I also would not discount the fact that there are actual functional social supports in Finland as well. Poverty and hunger affect school performance far more than most people realize. I'd also be interested to know what percentage of Finnish primary through secondary students are language learners (who don't speak Finnish at home). In addition, unless Finland's school system is compartmentalized by state, it's also hard to compare to the huge diversity and parity issues state to state and even district to district in the US.

Not everything can be laid at the feet of a teaching/learning style. IMO.
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#5 of 27 Old 04-10-2010, 08:03 PM
 
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Universal early childhood education (preschool) and a very uniform culture.

http://www.openeducation.net/2008/03...school-system/
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#6 of 27 Old 04-10-2010, 08:59 PM
 
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From my experience, the early years in Findland are spent learning about culture, focusing on oral language, and developing pre-academic skills. When children start academics they have had this supportive beginning to help them succeed. Here, many children go into Kindergarten with little to no oral language skills and little to no pre-academic skills, and they are expected to jump into academics right away. It just doesn't work for those children who did not get that supportive start and many fall behind. There are also not enough supports in place to help them catch up, so some of them never do.

Tigerchild also makes some very excellent points!

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#7 of 27 Old 04-12-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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I thought this was really interesting... it was on the BBC.....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programme...ca/8601207.stm


Some things from the story....

Formal schooling doesn't begin until 7.

Most kids stay in the same school... there is no transition at 13 or whatever.

Very relaxed atmosphere.

Believe that every child has something to offer... can succeed at something.

One teacher in the classroom is just there to provide extra help to kids who need it.

All teachers have master's degrees.

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#8 of 27 Old 04-12-2010, 10:06 PM
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or, it's just sisu.

it could be also that finns are really awesome. i love finland a lot--having been there only once--and i learned a lot about myself while there. finns seem to be constantly striving to define what it is to be Finn and Finland, but they use the "not-this" process of elimination, rather than the process of americans, which is the "we are this" process to define themselves. (eg Americans: "we are a christian nation"--doesn't have to be factual, but there's a statement. Finns: "we are not swedes or russians, and we aren't particularly religious either. check out our architecture, we are experimenting.")

their educational process is different than the US and has benefits that we see coming out of waldorf education (which basically doesn't start formal schooling until age 7 or later, keeps children and teachers together throughout (usually, if possible), and has a relaxed, inclusive atmosphere (for the most part--or "should" anyway). but aside from this, i think it also holds that sort of innate tension of finnish pride and questioning how to identify themselves or assert who or what they are.

and they are ridiculously kind, reserved, and polite people. like, ridiculously.

i love finns.
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#9 of 27 Old 04-12-2010, 10:10 PM
 
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Finland just rocks. Amerka should look at the Finns for some inspiration.
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#10 of 27 Old 04-12-2010, 11:30 PM
 
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I think it's a little hard to assume this is all because of a particular type of instruction.

Do the Finns have a strong social safety net in place? Are their schools segregated by economic class? Does each city/state-equivalent get to set their own rules? Do they not fully fund their schools? Is there a high degree of disparity in funding and quality between schools? Do they have adequate support and funding for all the Finnish language learners that they have?

There are many reasons why public education in the US falls behind, but instruction is not the only one (and may not be an issue at all in some places). We could mandate the "Finnish instructional style" in all of our schools, but if we do not take care of the hunger/language/social safety net/parity problem--it won't turn our schools around magically.

I used to think "if only" we found the magical instructionl style that things would turn around, but after spending all this time in my kids' (Title 1, failed to make AYP) school I'm not so sure. I used to blame it all on parents not giving a rip, but then I pulled my head out of my privledged upper class butt and saw many families literally having to work 3 or 4 or more jobs to make ends meet so they really COULDN'T may daytime (or even nightime sometimes!) jobs. The more I *see* the more complicated it seems.

I know it's been my activity at school that's solidified me as a *social* activist. Kids can't learn well if they're hungry and on the edge of being actively homeless or if they don't have adequate support in learning the language of instruction. Families can't contribute as much to school as they want to, if they literally cannot miss work and they're working nearly around the clock, or if someone is ill but can't afford doctors to get well/stay well/get proper affordable mobility equipment and transportation.

I don't know much about Finland, though as a Scandinavian country I assume that they do have strong social safety networks in place. I think a lot of us here in the US grossly underestimate how important seemingly non-educational things (like diversity, poverty, healthcare, wages, parity) affect edcuation.
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#11 of 27 Old 04-13-2010, 12:53 AM
 
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Originally Posted by umsami View Post
I thought this was really interesting... it was on the BBC.....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programme...ca/8601207.stm


Some things from the story....

Formal schooling doesn't begin until 7.

Most kids stay in the same school... there is no transition at 13 or whatever.

Very relaxed atmosphere.

Believe that every child has something to offer... can succeed at something.

One teacher in the classroom is just there to provide extra help to kids who need it.

All teachers have master's degrees.
Sounds a lot like my school in Russia during the Soviet times. We did not start formal schooling untill we were 7. All our teachers were graduates of the Pedagogical Colleges and State Universities and they all got the same quality training. There was unified country wide curriculum that all schools were required to follow. Kids stayed in the same school with the same students for 10 years straight. There are no separate elementary, middle and high schools in Russia. There is just one school where all grades study in the same building. Once you enter the school, you move from grade to grade with the same students in your class, so the friendhsip are formed in schools that often last lifetime. For example, I still keep in touch with my friends from the second grade. Finland does have strong social system. All schools there recieve adequate funding from the government and the population is there much more homogenious than here, in the USA. Plus, let's face it, Finns typically do not work 2-3-4 jobs to make ends meet, so they probably have more time to help children with their homework...
In my opinion, adoption of their curriculum by the American schools will not make a difference. The schools here often do not have properly educated teachers, the inner city schools do not recieve enough funding and parents are often overworked and do not have time for their children.
We can't change all of this but we can at least ask for a knowledge-based nation wide curriculum that all public schools in the USA MUST follow. We also need to create standardized teacher training process, where no matter what school the teacher graduated from, he/she has got proper education. We need to move away from those progressivist ideas that skills are everything and knowledge is nothing.
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#12 of 27 Old 04-13-2010, 01:33 AM
 
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I used to blame it all on parents not giving a rip, but then I pulled my head out of my privledged upper class butt and saw many families literally having to work 3 or 4 or more jobs to make ends meet so they really COULDN'T may daytime (or even nightime sometimes!) jobs. The more I *see* the more complicated it seems.

I know it's been my activity at school that's solidified me as a *social* activist. Kids can't learn well if they're hungry and on the edge of being actively homeless or if they don't have adequate support in learning the language of instruction. Families can't contribute as much to school as they want to, if they literally cannot miss work and they're working nearly around the clock, or if someone is ill but can't afford doctors to get well/stay well/get proper affordable mobility equipment and transportation.
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#13 of 27 Old 04-13-2010, 01:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post
I think it's a little hard to assume this is all because of a particular type of instruction.

Do the Finns have a strong social safety net in place? Are their schools segregated by economic class? Does each city/state-equivalent get to set their own rules? Do they not fully fund their schools? Is there a high degree of disparity in funding and quality between schools? Do they have adequate support and funding for all the Finnish language learners that they have?

There are many reasons why public education in the US falls behind, but instruction is not the only one (and may not be an issue at all in some places). We could mandate the "Finnish instructional style" in all of our schools, but if we do not take care of the hunger/language/social safety net/parity problem--it won't turn our schools around magically.

I used to think "if only" we found the magical instructionl style that things would turn around, but after spending all this time in my kids' (Title 1, failed to make AYP) school I'm not so sure. I used to blame it all on parents not giving a rip, but then I pulled my head out of my privledged upper class butt and saw many families literally having to work 3 or 4 or more jobs to make ends meet so they really COULDN'T may daytime (or even nightime sometimes!) jobs. The more I *see* the more complicated it seems.

I know it's been my activity at school that's solidified me as a *social* activist. Kids can't learn well if they're hungry and on the edge of being actively homeless or if they don't have adequate support in learning the language of instruction. Families can't contribute as much to school as they want to, if they literally cannot miss work and they're working nearly around the clock, or if someone is ill but can't afford doctors to get well/stay well/get proper affordable mobility equipment and transportation.

I don't know much about Finland, though as a Scandinavian country I assume that they do have strong social safety networks in place. I think a lot of us here in the US grossly underestimate how important seemingly non-educational things (like diversity, poverty, healthcare, wages, parity) affect edcuation.
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#14 of 27 Old 04-13-2010, 06:33 AM
 
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I live in a European country (not Scandinavia) that does have strong social safety networks in place and we still look at Finland and scratch our heads because our students don't achieve the same results by a long shot.

Some things that appear to be truly specific to Finland:

A very homogeneous society, not just socially, but also ethnically and linguistically, apart from an area in which people speak Swedish. Very little immigration compared to other industrialized countries (certainly very little unskilled immigration), few language learners.

Most of the country is, again compared to other industrialized countries, fairly rural and sparsely populated. There is some evidence why this makes a tangible difference (I've never seen Finnish results in Helsinki compared to rural districts, though).
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No academic tracking until 10th grade. In combination with the points mentioned above, this makes for very socially integrated schools, that is there are no schools where low socio-economic background, language-learning students congregate. There is some evidence that schools that do not have a critical mass of students with favourable factors in their backgrounds (and I read that experienced educators say it must be more than 50 %) pull everybody down. As soon as the critical mass is there, it pulls everybody up. Meaning it's hard to find a struggling school in Finland. (However, they concede they may not offer enough challenge for very advanced and gifted students and are working on that).

And apparently, one should not discount the fact that Finnish is a phonetic language, reading it is easy to learn (haven't a clue myself, but it's what I read) and a lot of kids pick it up before formal schooling, some helped on by watching subtitled English-language kid TV - and none of that's Waldorf, by the way!

Very dedicated teachers, support staff in place (teaching is an extremely respected profession and competition to get into teacher training schools is fierce).

So, some of these factors can be replicated in other countries, but the society cannot. Canada does very well in those tests, too! I suppose they have some similarity with Finland, and I think both what kind if immigration you have (not just numbers, it's skilled vs. unskilled, heterogeneous or homogeneous as in some European countries) and the support you have in place for second language learners is HUGE.

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#15 of 27 Old 04-14-2010, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'd also be interested to know what percentage of Finnish primary through secondary students are language learners (who don't speak Finnish at home). In addition, unless Finland's school system is compartmentalized by state, it's also hard to compare to the huge diversity and parity issues state to state and even district to district in the US.Not everything can be laid at the feet of a teaching/learning style. IMO.
I agree. it does say in the article that Finland does not have many immigrants and that the majority of students speak Finnish as their first language.
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#16 of 27 Old 04-14-2010, 11:09 AM
 
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There seem to be two active threads about on the same topic, with interesting thoughts in each. I'm bumping up both - maybe they can be combined?

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#17 of 27 Old 04-14-2010, 11:10 AM
 
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There seem to be two active threads about on the same topic, with interesting thoughts in each. I'm bumping up both - maybe they can be combined?

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#18 of 27 Old 04-14-2010, 11:38 PM
 
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I am pretty bad at combining threads but I will give it a try!

 
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#19 of 27 Old 04-14-2010, 11:41 PM
 
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It worked!

 
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#20 of 27 Old 04-15-2010, 01:06 AM
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my only point in bringing up the connections between waldorf and the finnish education is that i find it interesting how they are similar, not that finnish schools or finns believe in the various other elements related to waldorf, or that these decisions are arising from waldorf in any way.
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#21 of 27 Old 04-17-2010, 11:14 PM
 
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How about this.

Finland has a two year parental leave.

It has universal daycare....really universal.

Formal schooling may start at 7 (the age of reason according Waldorf and many psychologists) but it has plenty of state run, play based activity before hand.

Finland really values education and respects teachers, unlike the US and Canada. I really think the respect for education is very important.

Teachers are very educated, Master's degrees, as mentioned before.

Yes the uniformity of culture may be a factor but I think that the universal daycare would catch all those kids that the social system may not...that's why we need it here so badly (US and Canada). Parents will almost always accept free, quality child care so they can work. Even if they choose not to work and send their kids there, it's still a win win for the state in the long run.

My two cents.
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#22 of 27 Old 04-18-2010, 03:52 AM
 
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With, free, quality child care, the economic gaps might be lessened. Parents who have to work would have more of their income available for savings and/or not needing second or third jobs. They could devote more attention to their work and perhaps advance into higher paying positions more readily (vs. constantly searching for new daycare, cheaper daycare, all those headaches).

I'd feel annoyed if it were mandatory though.
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#23 of 27 Old 04-18-2010, 04:11 AM
 
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Well it's gotta be an awesome place if you can play daredevil on the weekend, then still have your job on Monday! lol. Most teachers in other countries have contacts upholding them to certain standards (certainly no law breaking stunts). Teachers here in Australia have been cautioned that if their facebook profile shows them drinking / obviously drunk they can lose their job.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dudesons

I've studied the Finnish education system a little and it's hard to isolate the exact thing that makes it work - it seems to be a combination of things working together, not least the lack of formalised learning until they're 7. They don't have the need for academic 'catchup' programs (like Reading Recovery) or the social problems which plague many other school systems either.
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#24 of 27 Old 04-19-2010, 02:51 AM
 
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I've studied the Finnish education system a little and it's hard to isolate the exact thing that makes it work - it seems to be a combination of things working together, not least the lack of formalised learning until they're 7. They don't have the need for academic 'catchup' programs (like Reading Recovery) or the social problems which plague many other school systems either.
I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on the topic. I have to admit I have not studied it at all, but education is an interest of mine and I found the topic and this thread to be fascinating.

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#25 of 27 Old 05-09-2010, 04:49 AM
 
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Check this link out: http://www.teachers.ab.ca/Quick%20Li...-Sahlberg.aspx

I think one of the main points is this: "Finland has a relatively small number of school days, and Finnish teachers teach less than 600 hours a year in the classroom. Teachers spend their remaining time developing curriculum and assessing and reporting student progress, for which they are solely responsible." Having that extra time to do assessment and to pinpoint where each child is having trouble can be a HUGE help.
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#26 of 27 Old 05-24-2010, 04:33 AM
 
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I'm from Finland and currently live in the U.S. It's a bit hard to say exactly why Finnish schools would be so much better than the rest, but here's some ideas.

People are rather similar, homogeneous. Similar backgrounds, similar social class, similar incomes, we even look oh so similar. I would say there's only a middle/working class, not really upper classes like here in the U.S. and much less of poor and homeless people. Not very much immigration except for the past few years.

The government offers social benefits that you can survive on: unemployment benefits, housing benefits, health care, free schooling, inexpensive child care, 3 years of paid maternity leave, paid paternity leave, free high school, free upper education (college, university, professional schools), student aid, retirement benefits. None of this makes you rich, and you're paying tons of taxes to maintain the system, but you can survive and try to fulfill your potential without having to be afraid that you'll be down and out and on the streets. Public transportation is awesome, people live in much smaller apartments than here in the U.S. and they don't expect to collect and own a huge amount of wealth and stuff, they just want to get by and live reasonably happy lives. Money is not the main thing in life.

Education is valued and at least when I was a student, I had a real sense of pride in my work. Your placement in a university or college is not automatic so you have to work very hard to get the grades to get into university and pass their tests. Money can't get you a good education, only intelligence and hard work can. Teachers are valued and I think they also value themselves appropriately.

Historically Finland has been kicked in the head by both the Russians and the Swedes (and others) and we are proud to have survived and fought our way through into a high-tech country. It created a strong national feeling that we all carry with us. Even though I've lived in the U.S. for 17 years I still consider myself primarily a Finn and would never give up my citizenship. Maybe this has helped us in our educational paths as well, to pull together rather than apart?

Also, Finns are not workaholics. In most cases, they work just 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and spend time with family on weekends and have long paid vacations (4-6 weeks). Work is not the center of their lives. Family is.
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#27 of 27 Old 05-24-2010, 01:31 PM
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Sweden's educational system seems similar http://www.teachers.tv/videos/12090 .
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