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Finnish students are a lucky lot. They don’t get much homework, and a lot of their school time is dedicated to creative play. There are no standarized tests and no private schools. The state pays for education from preschool through to the PhD level. Teachers are top professionals — teachers’ college is considered one of the better graduate-level schools to get into — and innovative educators base their educational system on useful things like evidence-based research to ensure students reach their full potential.

Since 2000, Finland has scored at the top of the PISA survey, which compares the reading, math and  science levels of 15-year-olds.

Finnish education is getting so much attention that Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education’s Center for International Mobility, is now on the international circuit touring his book, Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?

Finnish

PHOTO: DDG JONES

A recent article in The Atlantic says that Americans (and probably Canadians) often miss the point of the Finnish educational system, and Sahlberg’s book. Anu Partanen, a Finnish journalist based in New York City, explains that when Finland revamped its educational system, their goal wasn’t student achievement — it was equality:

“Since the 1980s, the main driver of Finnish education policy has been the idea that every child should have exactly the same opportunity to learn, regardless of family background, income, or geographic location. Education has been seen first and foremost not as a way to produce star performers, but as an instrument to even out social inequality. Finland offers all pupils free school meals, easy access to health care, psychological counseling, and individualized student guidance.”

source: The Atlantic

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