Do you know why Finland has the best public education in the world?


In her 2010 book The Flat World and Education, Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond explains that while the U.S. has been pursuing an accountability agenda with high-stakes testing, standardized curriculum, and increasing control from central government, little Finland has been proceeding in the opposite direction. National policy there stresses training and supporting skilled teachers, who can take initiative, be creative, and make good use of their autonomy. They are allowed to try out new ideas and methods and focus on preparing students for modern life by fostering problem solving, creativity, independent learning, and student reflection (pp.165-72). In a typical Finnish classroom students might be working in teams on projects that require them to use language, math, geography, and science skills to solve a real-world problem. Finland consistently places at or near the top of international tests comparing the quality of education received in different countries. The United States places well down the list.

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With thanks for support and encouragement from The Myrin Institute and Orion magazine.

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