Finnish Friday

The Atlantic reports about how the Finns consistently score high on evaluations of student performance.  We all have heard about the Asian wunderkinds and, I suspect, through up our national shoulders in a collective sign, knowing that we’ll never be able to get our kids to study as much or with the same level of dedication since we can’t bring the shame of centuries of ancestors to bare.

So, trying to figure out what’s so special about the Finns (who are at least slightly more similar to us culturally) might be a worthwhile endevour.

Except, it appears the lessons the Finns draw from their experience aren’t likely to go over too well here.

For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what’s called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.

As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. “There’s no word for accountability in Finnish,”…”Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.”

And while Americans love to talk about competition, Sahlberg points out that nothing makes Finns more uncomfortable. In his book Sahlberg quotes a line from Finnish writer named Samuli Puronen: “Real winners do not compete.

Ho, ho!  You can almost hear the howls of outrage at that last thought.  The partisan one liners just about write themselves.

And what do the Finns do with the great education?  Make cool upside down underwater videos…


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