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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wider lessons, 22 Nov 2011
This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
Pasi Sahlberg has written a remarkable book showing how Finland established a high performing education system by adopting policies counter to that which came in across most Western education systems. He calls these the GERM - the Global Education Reform Movement. The features of the GERM are: standardizing teaching and learning with common criteria for measurement and data; increased focus on core subjects, particularly literacy and numeracy; teaching a prescribed curriculum; transfer of models of administration from the corporate world; high stakes accountability policies - control through testing, inspection, division between schools and an ethos of punishment (for educators.

Sahlberg shows how Finland took another route, yet which led to high performance, even by international comparators. Its success was achieved by the simple solution of framing the development of the system around dialogue based on professionalism, trust and responsibility. It fostered practice change through reflection over theories and models of education whilst other countries focused on performance management, standardized testing and inspection.

As so many education systems opted for public grading, `shaming and blaming' of schools and teachers (for what?), ratcheting up pressure, and a mantra of `excellence' proclaimed as a threat not an aim, Finland went another way looking for the conditions which promote success and set about involving school communities in the process. This book is an antidote to `Race to the Top' (USA) `Journey to Excellence' (Scotland) and `raising the bar to outstanding' (England) by a process which works by more humble means, yet would seem to work very well indeed. Read this book to find out how this success was achieved.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for anyone involved in education (policy or practice), 1 Dec 2011
This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
Fact: the Finnish primary/secondary education system is without a doubt the best in the world.
Fact: this book is hands-down the best account of the Finnish system and the reasons for its success.
Fact: if you're an educator or an education policy maker, this book is quite simply a must-read.
Enough said.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting book, a real game-changer!, 17 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
This is a must-read for anyone interested in education. Written in a very methodical, clear, factual style without any hype or outlandish claims, it describes how much better the Finnish education system is compared with those in the UK. It demonstrates that the current education "reformers" are really nothing of the sort. If we want to have a decent school system we should look to Finland.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What our politicians don't tell you about Finland, 5 Oct 2012
This book tells an extraordinary tale about the transformation of Finland's education system from a mediocre to a world-class one.

Our leading politicians make references to Finland's achievement and to the high qualifications of its teachers. What they fail to mention is that virtually everything about Finland's transformation of its education systems is the opposite to what is happening to English education. Thus

(1) virtually all Finnish children go to a local authority maintained comprehensive school;
(2) Finnish children are subjected to very few high-stakes tests and exams;
(3) Finland has not gone down the path of longer school days, they have achieved 'more with less';
(4) Finnish children have a light homework load;
(5) Finnish teachers are trusted in a way that is almost unimaginable in the UK. They don't even have a national inspectorate;
(6) The transformation of their system was achieved by an effort involving all interested parties stretching over a period of 25 years or so;
(7) The Finnish debate was conducted on the basis of a high level of information with the aim of achieving consensus;
(8) The Finns clearly rejected market solutions to educational problems deciding that it was society's duty to supply good schools for everyone rather than giving parents the 'right' to fight for limited places in 'good schools'.

We doing the opposite to all this following the US Charter school model. That model is turning out to be truly awful. We need to re-think and this book is a great help in seeing that current "debate" in the UK badly needs some information on alternative approaches.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book for educationalists and policy makers, 7 July 2012
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Dr. T. C. Fish (Bournemouth uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
This book tells it as it is and it should be mandatory reading for anyone making educational policy. If only our own politicians would read this and take note. It would stop the stupid mistakes being made in our education policy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vital content but untidy organisation, 19 Dec 2012
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Mr. N. Moffatt (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
This is the first book for an International audience on Finnish education, written by one of the key protagonists. Because Finland blazes a trail as world leader in education, this book is therefore vital reading.

It explains that a collection of methods that form a systematic approach to education policy is the reason for high quality teaching and effective learning. And how these methods are almost diametrically opposed to the methods used in countries such as the UK and the US. It does concede that the homogeneous and extremely socially minded nature of Finnish people, coupled with very low poverty levels, does give them a head start, and means less time spent managing misbehaviour. But the approaches it has taken over a 30 year period make for extremely enlightening reading. If, as it seems, they are the reason for its success, then here in the UK, we are seriously misguided on too many aspects of education. And my gut feel is that this is very much the case.

I will not spoil the reading by listing these methods.

But I can only award the book 4 stars because it appears to have been written in one pass. There is a great deal of repetition, and a weakly organised structure. There is also too much self-congratulation, although this is occasionally offset by very honest declarations of shortcomings that remain in their system, such as the single high-stake matriculations at the end of the compulsory part of school education.

Read 5+ stars for content, and 2 to 3 stars for the communication of that content.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to create a world-class education system., 22 July 2013
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Jazzrook (Purbrook , Hampshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
Imagine an education system where all children go to a local comprehensive school, there are very few tests and exams, no streaming or setting, no league tables and no national inspectorate for teachers who are well-qualified and trusted.
Such a system may sound utopian but one actually exists in Finland whose educational performance has been ranked consistently highly in the world since 2000.
All this is documented in Pasi Sahlberg's remarkable book(translated into 15 languages) which should be compusory reading for our current education secretary Michael Gove, who seems hell-bent on following a market-driven U.S. model for state education.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to know about education in Finland, this is the book you need to read..., 9 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
If you want to know about education in Finland, this is the book you need to read...
It's an accessible book, I used it for my dissertation but I think it's a book that people can read for pleasure as well as study/research/business.
It includes information on history, politics, expenditure, ethics of teaching and cultural attitudes as well as the expected information on students, teachers, lessons, curriculum and schools.

This book is great for an international comparison. The author is very fair and credible; showing all the benefits of the Finnish system however not seeming biased or unreliable.

I can't express how interesting this book is if you have any interest in education, young people, teaching, youth work, Finland and culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading, 10 Mar 2013
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R. Stark (Rome, Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
This extraordinary book corroborates and vindicates those of us who have always believed that education in childhood need not negate being a child -- that education can and should be a joy for the child. Indeed, it is how children learn best. It makes one very happy that an entire country follows this course, not just a few enlightened private schools -- however, it causes despair when one considers that no other countries appear to be following the lead of Finland -- indeed, rather the opposite. When will they ever learn?

The system of education in Finland would seem not only to be a wonder for today's children of Finland but a guarantee for the stability of Finnish society, culturally, socially and politically long into the future. Finland shows that egalitarianism and communitarianism does not conflict with individualism and creativity but rather advances and enhances it. The simplistic Ayn Rand and her host of advocates, among them all of the "crony capitalists", are shown here to be frauds and worse in the incalculable damage they have caused and continue to cause in the world.

Finally, let me say that the author, Pasi Sahlberg, writes in a clear, balanced, non-polemical style (unlike the last sentence of my above paragraph, which is full of the anger I feel), giving full credit to others -- egotism, self satisfaction and hubris are entirely lacking. In fact, he concludes with a discussion of current problems in Finland's education system and some of the things Finland must do to keep it continually vital and relevant to the times. Sahlberg is an intellect of the first order.

Note: The audio version, narrated by Paul Michael Garcia, is excellent and does the book justice. Not to be missed also is the January 17, 2012 broadcast of Dan Rather Reports, "Finnish First", which can be purchased online in the iTunes Store for USD 1.99.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of Finnish education systems, 2 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) (Paperback)
An honest account by Sahlberg of the strengths and weaknesses of the Finnish education system and why it seems to produce the best educational outcomes Worldwide. It does not claim to have all the answers and throws up a range of issues to reflect on for the future. There is enough detail to make good comparisons to the UK private education system, which in many respects has considerable similarities, and try to define areas all countries could make progress in addressing.
A good easy read, providing lots of thought provoking questions.
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