Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? (The Series on School Reform) Paperback – 15 Jan 2012
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This book will give hope, vision, and strategies to anyone who is sincere in bringing a great education to every child. Pick it up and read it. --Education Week's BookMarks
Pasi Sahlberg as an insider knows what has happened and as a researcher has an objective perspective on cause and effect relationships. This story makes sense to me. --Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director, Finnish Broadcasting Company and former Minister of Education (1994 1999)
Finland's remarkable educational story, so well told in this book by Pasi Sahlberg, is both informative and inspiring because it shows that with appropriate effort sustained over time, a country can make huge improvements for its young people, something that all countries aspire to do. --Ben Levin, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
About the Author
Pasi Sahlberg is Director General of CIMO (Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation) at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Essential reading for all who worry that education doesn't fit with how children best learn. Finland tops all achievement tables without inspection,frequent formal tests,... Read morePublished on 18 Aug. 2013 by Janet May
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... Read morePublished on 22 July 2013 by Jazzrook
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... Read more
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... Read morePublished on 10 Mar. 2013 by R. Stark
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. Read morePublished on 2 Feb. 2013 by ms CE DAVIES
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