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 Let's Learn From Finland's School System!

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PostSubject: Let's Learn From Finland's School System!   Sun 10 Aug - 12:44

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Learn From Finland's School System!   Sun 10 Aug - 12:47

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PostSubject: Re: Let's Learn From Finland's School System!   Sun 10 Aug - 13:02

What Is Finland Doing Right?


It’s hard to point to just one thing that’s the key to Finland’s success. The rise of their schools was a slow and steady one; more tortoise than hare. There’s no doubt that their approach to education is vastly different from the US and many other high-achieving nations. In fact, it’s almost the complete opposite approach.



The emphasis in Finnish schools is on cooperation, not competition. Nina Brander, a Finnish teacher with 17 years of experience, says this is a key to Finland’s success. “In Finland we orientate more towards learning and working than towards marking and evaluating,” she said. Schools aren’t ranked and they’re all equally funded so parents can rest assured that whether they live in a city or a small country town, whether they are wealthy or not, their child will get the same, awesome education. “We have an equal elementary-school education for all children,” said Ms. Brander.



Unlike the norm in the United States and many Asian nations, there aren’t a ton of standardized tests in Finland—there is only one right at the end of their equivalent of high school. Progress is charted by exams the teachers devise themselves. “We do have tests at the end of almost every course, but the only standardized test is the matriculation examination at the end of high school,” said Ms. Brander. “We evaluate the students during courses,” she continued. “I usually give marks and oral feedback. Positive feedback is the most effective way to promote good learning!”



Students in Finland also do less homework than kids in almost any other nation. The average is less than an hour per day! They learn what they need to know in the classroom so they can have plenty of time for friends, family and other interests after school.

Students in Finland aren’t rushed. Finnish kids don’t start school until they’re seven years old compared to the average Kindergarten age of five in the US. But 97% of their students go to free, subsidized play-based preschools starting at age five where they get a gentle introduction to academics and classroom expectations.



And kids in the schools play … a lot! Finnish children have way more playtime than American students. The average Finnish student has 75 minutes a day of recess compared to the mere 27 most US kids get. And not only that, teachers give the kids a 15 minute break after every lesson. Students in Finland are encouraged to play outside, even when it’s freezing out.



While all of these reasons are important to Finland’s success, the country’s teachers and the esteem in which they are held may very well be the most important ingredient. “In Finland teachers are quite respected, especially university or college teachers,” said Ms. Brander. Primary school teaching is the number one career choice for young Finnish people. Teachers in Finland are selected from the top ten percent of university graduates and are given a free ride to earn a required master’s degree in education before they can teach. And competition for these spots is fierce. Out of 6,600 applicants, only 600 were admitted to the program in 2010!



There are many rumors about how much money teachers in Finland get paid. Internet memes floating around claim they get paid like doctors and lawyers; which is only sort of true. They get paid like Finnish doctors and lawyers, not American ones. The fact is, the gap between doctor/lawyer/teacher salaries in Finland is a lot less than in the US; their income distribution tends to be more equitable.. Dollar for dollar, teachers in the US actually get paid more than teachers in Finland. But compared to other professionals in our country, teacher salaries are not as competitive. What is also striking is that Finnish teachers earn more pay increases than US teachers’ over the course of their careers. Still, young people in Finland can earn just as much in many other professions. So what motivates them to clamber for the job? It’s all about the R.E.S.P.E.C.T.



Overall, teachers in Finland are highly valued and given a ton of autonomy to create their own curriculums filled with plenty of art, music and science. They are given guidelines on what to teach, but aren’t told how to teach. They are empowered to make bold choices to do what they think is needed to get their kids to learn. They are championed for thinking outside the box. And they do it all in less time. Finnish teachers spend fewer hours at school and less time teaching than their American counterparts do. Most schools are in session from eight or nine a.m. until one or two p.m. So they have more time to prepare and evaluate their students. And not only that, most teachers stick with the same group of kids for five years, so they can really get to know their students.



They also have teaching aides in each school dedicated to helping struggling kids and the growing population of immigrant children. This helps insure that no student falls behind, no matter what! Some critics have dismissed Finland’s success, saying their homogenous population is the reason why they can pull off such fantastic results. But immigrant populations in Finland have grown steadily over the past decade and their schools have remained stellar. Educators have made sure that immigrant students are given the resources they need to be just as successful as their native-born peers.



Another major goal of the Finnish was to create a safe environment at their schools. All students receive free lunch and access to health care, mental health services and guidance counselors. So all students are more likely to be well fed and healthy both mentally and physically and thus more prepared to learn.



Lastly, there are no private schools in Finland. Every school from preschool to university is public. So all Finnish citizens support the public school system, rather than draining money, energy and resources on alternative school systems. The gap between the top students and bottom students in Finland is the smallest in the world. And if a school is struggling, they pair it up with a successful school to help pull it up. Likewise, teachers are encouraged to reach out to each other if they’re facing a particularly difficult student or problem.
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PostSubject: Re: Let's Learn From Finland's School System!   Sun 10 Aug - 13:36

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