School improvement in USA and Canada requires an ‘attitude adjustment’

We all want to live in Finland when it comes to education… well respected teachers, successful students, adequately funded schools, free higher education. Many are the educators, policy makers and politicians who make the pilgrimage to Finland looking for the major bullet, the key technique, the secret to success. In this op ed (What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform) Pali Salhsberg eloquently sets us all straight… there is no magic bullet. He identifies three key foundational starting points (and remedies) that make Finnish education what it is, which highlights our own fundamental shortcomings.

Funding of schools: Finnish schools are funded based on a formula guaranteeing equal allocation of resources to each school regardless of location or wealth of its community.

Well-being of children: All children in Finland have, by law, access to childcare, comprehensive health care, and pre-school in their own communities. Every school must have a welfare team to advance child happiness in school.

Education as a human right: All education from preschool to university is free of charge for anybody living in Finland. This makes higher education affordable and accessible for all.

There will be no simple copying of Finnish educational practices in hopes of achieving Finnish educational nirvana. Instead we need an attitude adjustment, different value positions that run counter to the individualist, capitalist values that permeate our current cultural contexts.

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