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Good article in the Wall Street Journal today entitled, What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?.
The article discusses some reasons the Finish students scored so highly:
Strong reading ethic (apparently, the government sends new babies a free book!)
Very low funding disparity between schools
No gifted education
In-class freedom for teachers - check out this quote:
Finnish teachers pick books and customize lessons as they shape students to national standards. “In most countries, education feels like a car factory. In Finland, the teachers are the entrepreneurs,”
Lack of technology - here’s another quote:
In November, a U.S. delegation visited, hoping to learn how Scandinavian educators used technology. Officials from the Education Department, the National Education Association and the American Association of School Librarians saw Finnish teachers with chalkboards instead of whiteboards, and lessons shown on overhead projectors instead of PowerPoint. Keith Krueger was less impressed by the technology than by the good teaching he saw. “You kind of wonder how could our country get to that?” says Mr. Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking, an association of school technology officers that organized the trip.
This comes back to my series of blog posts asking “Is technology worth it?” (part 1, part 2 and part 3). I think technology is worth it, of course, as long as we think about it. But what I like about this article is the simple message: it’s the teaching the counts.