Listen to our president, education secretary or just about any bureaucrat claiming to be interested in American education, and at some point, you’ll hear that “We need to be like Finland.”
The irony of this is staggering.
Consider what the people making the decisions that drive American education believe is effective:
- Large class sizes
- Plenty of homework
- Tons of standardized testing
- Little or no time for physical activity, like recess
- A bizarre teacher evaluation system that rates educators on traditional methods and student test scores
Still, “We need to be more like Finland,” is the bureaucrats’ favorite mantra.
Take a look at how Finland does education:
- Average class size is 1 teacher to every 12 students.
- There is virtually no homework.
- Finland has 10 times less standardized testing than American schools.
- There is heavy emphasis on physical activity and down time (75 minutes of recess).
- Teachers are as respected as doctors.
Sure, we’re not Finland. We’re much larger and face different socio-economic issues. If we aspire to be like Finland, though, why not at least attempt to incorporate some of its simple strategies?
Right now, we’re not even close!
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Mark Barnes is the Founder of Times 10 Publications, which produces the popular Hack Learning Series
, The uNseries
, and other books from some of education's most reputable teachers and leaders. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and Hack Learning. Connect with @markbarnes19 on Twitter