Friday, April 29, 2011

And now from Finland

We need to be willing to think outside the box when it comes to improving and changing education in America.   But I understand that it can be scary to try new things.  Furthermore, there may be more slowly changing institution that formal education. To change will take both courage and patience.  While we are figuring out what to do and how to do it it would behoove us look to places where change has begun.  Let’s look to Finland.  I read years ago that in Finland they had a unique response to low-performing schools – they increased funding to them.  Think about it… low performance leads to more funding to find and enact solutions.  Though I forget the details, I suspect the continuation of such increased funding was tied to increased performance.  That appears to be the opposite of the American model – under-perform and loose funding but still be required to lift achievement. 
Now I come across more from Finland.  I currently teach in an elite, high-stress, amazingly high performing, private school that asks for long hours, lots of homework, strict behavioral guidelines and great structure.  I teach in a school that could make many a Tiger Mom very happy.  Many people seem to think such structure and time on task is the answer to problems in our schools.  But consider this from Finland – fewer hours, less structure and greater freedom leads to top performance…

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