Wall Street Journal: In the international PISA test, Finnish students rank as among the smartest in the world. Yet they don’t start school until age 7, have no classes for the gifted, no standardized testing, have plenty of “fruittari-hoppari,” and don’t agonize over college (since it’s free).
Finland’s secret? Not much. Basics. Pride. And, oh yeah – small class sizes and teachers with masters’ degrees. Another interesting difference – a much narrower gap between the highest- and lowest-performing students (4% in Finland, 29% in the U.S.) That’s because in Finland, none of the students move on until the slower students have caught up. Rather than pushing advanced students forward, they’re invited to help the slower ones. The thinking is that they can do so without harming their own progress.
“In most countries, education feels like a car factory. In Finland, the teachers are the entrepreneurs.”
There are good reasons (see article) why it would be hard for the U.S. to emulate Finland’s educational performance, but surely we can learn something by observing? Let’s start with smaller classes, better teachers, and and end to No Child. That seems pretty fundamental.