Lessons From Finland: Against “Capital” Values for Education Systems

typewriterFinland’s secret to educational success?

Do exactly the opposite of the US.

While that might not be written anywhere, that is literally the case.

Finland’s Teacher-Student ratio in secondary school?  About 12-1.

We keep pushing for the “system” to “educate” our kids earlier and earlier–trying to push day-care and head start programs to kids almost from birth.  Finland starts primary school education at age 7.

Primary school and Secondary School are in the same buildings so as to retain continuity and not create destabilizing and educationally harmful transitions where the “learning” becomes all about the transition–how to manage your upheavals.

Often students stay with the same teachers throughout their academic years–creating a stable, “home-like” environment.

Why can’t we do this?

Instead we encourage instability and constant transitions.  And the reason?  We want to mimic our primary value system, Capitalism.

Stability and fellow-feeling are not conducive to capital plunder.  We might actually find that offensive if we believed in the wholeness of our communities and our common bonds as human beings living together

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Discover more:

Pupil-teacher ratio; secondary in Finland

Why do Finland’s schools get the best results?

“How Finland became an education leader”

Transporting Finland’s education success to U.S.

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  1. Jenny Robinson November 3, 2011 at 10:04 am

    The drive to begin schooling earlier and earlier is about much more than education; it is about meeting a social need for childcare that results from an economy and culture dependent on families where both parents are full-time employees. I think the question is, how can we support the ability of both women and men to work, to have professions, and also to care for our children (another valuable form of work, which also requires time). Here in the U.S., we desperately need the social insurance programs that exist in Scandinavia: paid, longer maternity and paternity leave, paid sick leave, healthcare that is not tied to full-time employment, and childcare that creates communities and ties to families. I am a big fan of the advocacy that MomsRising.org is doing around these issues.

    1. Douglas Storm November 3, 2011 at 10:12 am

      Hey, Jenny,

      Great points. Of course you are right regarding our economic burden creating these requirements…but this is exactly the thing we must try to find ways to fight against.

      I’ll post in a few a furtherance of this point and something I put on the the “btownonline” page.

      Let’s keep the conversation rolling and try to get to implementation point.

    2. focus November 3, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      Agreed! The Scandinavian example is an excellent one. Maternity and paternity leaves of extended duration. Excellent schools, excellent day care, social provisions that provide for the individual, the family and society as a whole. This creates an environment that supports and nurtures those who have children and encourages them to continue to do so. And it does not unduly penalize those who don’t.

      “The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.”
      ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

  2. dpopp November 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

    There was some dsicsussion on NPR this morning on decling birth rates and incentives for bucking that trend in european countries. Raising a human being costs time and money and how we pay for it is a great question. Finland sounds great but it’s a small homogenous country. Can it be scaled to a country the size of the US?

    1. Douglas Storm November 3, 2011 at 11:48 am

      I honestly have zero concern for a “systemic” picture of “controlled” environments. And I certainly have no interest in national scale.

      I’m interested in this place, this town, this now. The US, even with it’s heterogeneity of people, is an homogenized “mind’. I’d prefer a little difference!


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