Why is the education world obsessed with Finland? Probably because Finnish students have consistently scored the highest on the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), a test often used to determine a nation's education rank. America isn't even in the top ten, yet Finland's core education values aren't too different from what the America's values were some time ago. Sadly, current education reform in the U.S. seems to be pushing us farther and farther away from those core values.
Finland is less obsessed with standardized test scores and
more obsessed with developing a child's curiosity, ability to think and be creative. It is
extremely difficult to become a teacher in Finland, so it's actually a well-respected profession nationwide. Test scores aren't tied to teacher pay. In fact, kids aren't even allowed to take standardized tests until they have at least been through nine years of schooling. There is a national curriculum, but no where in it does it say what specifically to teach nor how to teach it. Say, what?..
So, if after reading this you're even slightly interested in what Finland is doing, check out Finnish Lessons by Pasi Sahlberg. Yes, it's a book. Fine - if you're lazy and don't want to read an entire book, you can read this book review written by Diane Ravitch, education historian and my ideal mother.
Seriously, I wish I had someone in my family as cool as her. I hope she Googles her name and finds this post, in which case, here's a message: Mother's Day is just around the corner Diane. All you have to do is adopt me.