The Wall Street Journal wants to know What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?

It seems that students in Finland rank at or near the top of the scale on “one international measure”, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), while US students are in middle of the pack.

Which means the Journal is really asking why they’re better educated. But what’s going on in their schools that makes their kids so good at taking tests?

High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don’t start school until age 7.

The academic prowess of Finland’s students has lured educators from more than 50 countries in recent years to learn the country’s secret, including an official from the U.S. Department of Education. What they find is simple but not easy: well-trained teachers and responsible children. Early on, kids do a lot without adults hovering. And teachers create lessons to fit their students. “We don’t have oil or other riches. Knowledge is the thing Finnish people have,” says Hannele Frantsi, a school principal.

So, they’re under far less stress from both school and parents than American kids. In a society that trusts teachers and values education. And which understands vocational training is a worthy alternative to college.

Of course, Finland is also a relatively small country with little or no poverty and a population with few non-native speakers.

However, read the whole article and you’ll find quite a few concepts about educating kids that we could make good use of in the US.

Unfortunately, at the end of the article, the writer discusses a trend of Finnish educators wanting to push more kids onto the “fast-track” and parents moving toward becoming “American-style”.

Instead maybe we could learn something from them and become more Finnish-style.

[Thanks to Stephen for the link]

finland, education, schools