Why I Love Finland

I’ve got my first trip scheduled to Finland this fall, and I have to say I can’t wait. It’s not because the Finnish education system has been such a success PISA-wise over the years. It’s not because they give students total agency over their learning — they actually don’t. And it’s not because they’re succeeding in solving every problem that confronts their system — they’re not.

I’m much more interested in talking to educators and students about a culture around teaching and learning in schools (and in the country) that focuses on kids and not on outcomes. One that is willing to continually try to reinvent itself despite “success.” One that has statements like this one written about it:

“Europe’s top-performing school system rethinks its approach.”

And what I really love is that the “rethink” isn’t about PISA or global rankings or other quantitative metrics like the ones we here in the U.S. seem obsessed with chasing. Instead, it’s this:

Finland is taking a sensitive and “pupil-led” approach. In August its 313 municipalities will roll out their versions of a new national curriculum meant to restore the “joy and meaningfulness of learning.”

Why that? Because over the last decade in Finland, kids were losing the “joy and meaningfulness of learning,” and because the Finns decided that was a more important problem to address than declining PISA scores.What a shocker.

If you’re an educator, you have to love a country where one guiding vision is “A land of people who love learning.”

Why wouldn’t, why shouldn’t that be our ultimate goal, in Finland or anywhere else?

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