August 23, 2011

"Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Stu­dent health care is free..."

"Besides Finnish, math and science, the first graders take music, art, sports, religion and textile handcrafts. English begins in third grade, Swedish in fourth. By fifth grade the children have added biology, geography, history, physics and chemistry."

101 comments:

Bill Harshaw said...

Sounds like a bleeding heart liberal's wet dream so you know the schools are no good.

TWM said...

Ahhh, something America should emulate, because we are so much like Finland in so many ways . . .

robinintn said...

"Free". I don't think that word means what they think it means.

David said...

No Bill, it's called setting high standards, hardly a liberal trait in the secondary education field. The principal reason American kids don't do this is that no one asks them to.

TWM said...

"No Bill, it's called setting high standards, hardly a liberal trait in the secondary education field. The principal reason American kids don't do this is that no one asks them to."

Liberal American educators don't ask them to, you mean.

Triangle Man said...

Ahhh, something America should emulate, because we are so much like Finland in so many ways . . .

What about our mutual love of the tango?

Coketown said...

It's policies like these that make Finland a fountain of technological and cultural innovation.

Oh wait.

chickenlittle said...

It's been quite a while now for Finnish science: Link.

Julius said...

Good job, Althouse! You've unleashed your conservatimaniac followers so that they can shit on Finnish schools and Finnish schoolchildren!

Now we'll see how creative your minions can be! What new, inventive ways will they find to put down this successful education system???

Let's sit back and watch American innovation being put to use in furthering good ole' American arrogance...

n.n said...

If the people voluntarily accept the tax burden, and the government does not manufacture a virtual economy through the accumulation of debt, then it could work, for a while.

That said, socialism, and similar authoritarian and redistributive schemes, are good concepts in theory; but, in reality, redistribution through involuntary exploitation is a principal contributor to progressive corruption.

TWM said...

"Ahhh, something America should emulate, because we are so much like Finland in so many ways . . .

What about our mutual love of the tango?"

Ahh, well, the art of dance transcends all national boundaries.

Except for The Macarena, and even that is universally despised.

E.M. Davis said...

Is it true only 9.5% of homes in Finland contain at least 4 people, while 40.7% are 1-person dwellings?

Hmmm...

MadisonMan said...

Finland is a pretty homogeneous population. That simplifies a whole lot of things.

I have two relatives who were educated, mostly, in Finland (they finished High School at an IB school over there). They are brilliant. Maybe they would have been brilliant as High School students in the USA as well.

TWM said...

"Good job, Althouse! You've unleashed your conservatimaniac followers so that they can shit on Finnish schools and Finnish schoolchildren!"

Your obsession with scat is disturbing.

I think Finland is doing great with it's educational system. The fact that it is only about half the size of Texas makes any comparison to America moronic however.

MadisonMan said...

The fun part about visiting Finland, by the way, is the totally foreign scramble of alphabet soup. No latin roots anywhere, so nothing is familiar, yet there are very familiar letters.

Plus the Fazer Chocolate Cafe in downtown Helsinki. That's a great place to go too.

Triangle Man said...

So Finns in Finland are well educated. I bet that Finns raised in the US are also well educated.

chickenlittle said...

The fact that it is only about half the size of Texas makes any comparison to America moronic however.

A more apt comparison would be between Finland and Wisconsin.

Scott M said...

Let's sit back and watch American innovation being put to use in furthering good ole' American arrogance...

We used to have one of the best public school systems in the world, Julius. Why do we rank so poorly now?

bagoh20 said...

Yea, but we excel at Womyn's Studies and equality based spelling.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... Finland is a pretty homogeneous population. That simplifies a whole lot of things..."

Racist.

;-)

Kevin said...

...and as of 2007, Finland spent about $7,000 per secondary school pupil, and the US spent over $10,000.

We may have bad schools, but we have very well paid teachers and administrators!

AJ Lynch said...

Roskat roskat ulos.

Palladian said...

I liked "Julius" better when he was dead.

bagoh20 said...

"Finland spent about $7,000 per secondary school pupil, and the US spent over $10,000."

It would be instructive to see where the extra money goes?

rocketeer67 said...

A more apt comparison would be between Finland and Wisconsin.

That's really not apt at all. I'm pretty sure Finland has far more minority students.

David said...

"The fact that it is only about half the size of Texas makes any comparison to America moronic however."

US schools are (or used to be) funded and administered in small units marked by local control. There's no reason why the size of the country in itself should be a barrier to superior education. We simply have become willing to accept mediocrity or worse.

timmaguire42 said...

I was thinking of making Kevin's post. Except mine would have been fact free. Something like, "and I bet they do all this for less money than we spend to do far less."

That is one of the great unexamined questions of whether our taxes are too high or not--what are we getting for our money?

timmaguire42 said...

I was thinking of making Kevin's post. Except mine would have been fact free. Something like, "and I bet they do all this for less money than we spend to do far less."

That is one of the great unexamined questions of whether our taxes are too high or not--what are we getting for our money?

n.n said...

Julius:

You're right. There is no causative relationship between ideology and the quality of an education system. In fact, the education offered at Soviet schools was exemplary. Comparable to that found in American schools, before the concept of equal outcome became chic and progressive funding was substituted for accountability.

In any case, the realization of left-wing ideology in America is not comparable to what existed in the Soviet Union. The form that it has taken in America is extremely regressive, far surpassing the involuntary exploitation that provided the foundation under the Soviet communists. America's left, even as a minority in the population, has been effective in denigrating individual dignity and devaluing human life. While the communists did the same to an extent, they were largely driven to that end as they persevered to spread progressive totalitarianism throughout the world.

The Chinese communists have learned a lesson from their counterparts in the now defunct Soviet Union. Unfortunately, the American left has not. They continue to hope for an ideal realization of redistributive change, where they, in progressive measure, control the resources and power, while ignoring the lessons learned by their ideological counterparts.

Geoff Matthews said...

The reason why Finland does so well is because it is full of Finns.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Other than religion, of course, and "textile handcrafts" (though I doubt that's all that different from our "arts & crafts", and the additional language, how is this different from our standard American schools, which handle pretty much all of the things listed here?

Also, if they spend less per student, why are all the Metafilter comments whining about funding?

- Lyssa

Seven Machos said...

All our lives we hear about how great the education system is in these various Nordic countries.

Tell me: what's anybody in Finland invented lately? What crazy discovery has anybody made? What incredible literary or artistic output has occurred lately?

Scott M said...

We simply have become willing to accept mediocrity or worse.

Root...meet cause. Accepting mediocrity, in most facets of our society, is at the base of many of our problems.

rocketeer67 said...

We simply have become willing to accept mediocrity or worse.

Accepting it? Hell, we're consciously enforcing it. God forbid some students should excel, or some districts. It's more...fair if they all suck.

Oh wait - right - I'm supposed to be shitting on Finland. I forgot.

Henry said...

Finland's school system is well worth studying.

Several quotes from the source article:

Many schools are small enough so that teachers know every student.

Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”

A class of first graders scampered among nearby pine and birch trees...

Summa asked Kangasvieri if they might combine gymnastics classes in hopes good behavior might be contagious. It worked. This year, the two decided to merge for 16 hours a week.


Sadly, you have top pick through a lot of chaff to get to the important stuff in this article. Most of the "compared to the US" venting is a compendium of false alternatives that really misses the practical, flexible, hands-on child-centered ideas that work.

Ideas, I might add, that are far more likely to be found in private and charter schools in the U.S. than large, centralized, regimented public schools.

chickenlittle said...

And as far as I'm concerned, the Finns can go straight to Helsinki.

Peace,
Maxine

Scott M said...

The reason why Finland does so well is because it is full of Finns.

Channeling Longshanks?

Kevin said...

That's really not apt at all. I'm pretty sure Finland has far more minority students.

Yeah, the students from the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland often kick up a ruckus!

n.n said...

Triangle Man:

That's an excellent insight. Whether it is due to genetics, tradition, or a combination, the ethics and morality of individuals is inherited or transferred. It is still, of course, necessary for the individual to voluntarily accept that knowledge. Still, it is necessary to start with the ideal and correct for the limitations of reality, if we are to have any hope of recognizing an optimal compromise.

Corruption of a society begins at home, and can only be mitigated from there. This is where people should look for a cause to our decadent society in decline. The rest of the contributing factors only exacerbate the problem.

The corruption of individuals and society has been realized through a progressive substitution of totalitarian policies for moral knowledge, and promotion of behaviors designed to satiate instant gratification.

Carol_Herman said...

Can they stay home when it snows?

When NYC got hit by big snowstorms, the radio would announce school closures. (Back in the 1940's.)

Meanwhile, yesterday, the captain of a ferry boat got locked in the boat's bathroom. (Which he could not open ... so how high was that science education?)

The ferry plowed into rocks.

Henry said...

David's 2:27 is spot on.

Read the quotes I cadged from the article.

The schools are small and locally managed.

The national requirements are broad and strategic.

The respected and highly-trained teachers are affordable enough to create very small classes and a very high student-teacher ratio.

The individual teachers have enough flexibility to take their students outside for a class or combine instruction with another teacher.

Note also the developmentally-aware decision to start school at 7 (exactly the opposite of the head-start mentality) and to incorporate play and outdoor recess throughout the school day.

Gene said...

I remember reading a story about the Kansas City public schools about 10 years ago. The public school system was only slightly bigger than the Catholic school system at the time but had something like four times the budget.

One reason: the public school system had 550 administrations to do the same job that the Catholic schools did with one full time and one part time administrator.

Paddy O said...

Finland, Finland, Finland, the country where I want to be.

Finland is also interesting because they are a bridge of sorts between Western and Eastern Europe, especially in terms of religion and theology.

Indeed one of my favorite theologians, and my PhD mentor, is Finnish.

kwood said...

I dream of the day when we can have lots of small neighborhood schools instead of the large centralized 'institutions'. Kids of different ages should be able to pursue success in the 3 R's in what amounts to a single room neighborhood school house.

Learning can be totally individualized with the more self-sufficient kids receiving only needed supervision as they learn on their own from web and more classical materials.

If a 12 year old is studying Calculus while a 16 year old studies basic algebra, it's no problem. One tutors the other in math while he tutors the first kid with his baseball swing or whatever.

Sports would be strictly back-yard, with town leagues available for anyone interested.

Homework would be minimal, leaving less room for failure due to 'complicated' home lives. Also more time for better parents to spend time with their kids pursuing their own activities, apprenticing and so on.

You can graduate when a minimum level of expertise in Reading, Writing and 'rithmetic is demonstrated AND you are above the age of 16 (employable). If you don't graduate until your 20, that's fine so long as you're not being disruptive in the classroom. With a small neighborhood group where everyone knows each other, that shouldn't be hard. Peer pressure will work in a good way, for once.

Sigh. I can dream, can't I?

Kids who want into college can stay, to teach and learn and beef up their resume. Others can go on to work, trade schools or whatever.

Pamela said...

I live in Finland, it is not as homogeneous as one might think. Most all my friends are immigrants.

The kids all seem happy and well.

Yes we have our share of small apartments and homes.

There is much to like about this country. Also, much to dislike.

Paul said...

And tell me, the Finns are what?

What do they produce? What do they do for the world?

Do the Finns help other countries in times of disasters like the U.S.?

Do the Finns support the U.N. like the U.S. does?

Do the Finns ..

And free? Hahaha. TINSTAAFL!

But for all that I sure wish the government here would butt out of the school system and let the locals run it. And let them crack down on gangs, drugs, drop outs, etc...

kwood said...

Here's one Finnish export my wife is extremely fond of:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO2DUDKmaEk&ob=av2e

It's not quite fair to say, "What have they written or invented lately?"

There's a LOT of creativity in Europe (Canada even) that we, as American, simply never see. Doesn't mean it's not there and it doesn't mean it's not amazing.

Inventions and research come from money AND education. What we lack in education we can (for now) make up for with money.

Wouldn't it be great, though, to have an at least *reasonably* educated citizenry here in the states?

That there are ways we could do so, for vastly smaller amounts of money than we now spend is clear, and the Finnish system is worth studying, if not perhaps emulating outright.

El Presidente said...

In the Soviet Union the teachers served the Party and were accountable to the Party.

In the United States the teachers served the Union and were accountable to no one.

Oligonicella said...

Gene --

"... Kansas City public schools about 10 years ago. The public school system was only slightly bigger than the Catholic school system at the time but had something like four times the budget."

That's after that inane Magnet program. The city actually lost their rating. Prior to that, KC was fine.

AllenS said...

English begins in third grade

We have generations of people here in the USofA, that can't speak good English, and probably not as good as those children in Finland. Ebonics, anyone?

Curious George said...

Finland produces awesome race car drivers.

I Callahan said...

I'm sure this is spot on. The ironic thing is that we have many of these qualities in U.S. schools. Just not in the standard public schools - many charters and private schools already do some of these things.

Pamela said...

Finland where Linus Torvalds came from who was the chief architect of the Linux kernel.

Finland home of Nokia Fiskars, Marimeko, and many more.

Main sport is ice hockey, and the list of rally car drivers is who's who in the history of rally.

Finland one of the most conservative of the EU countries.

Finland population of about 5 million, the economy doesn't compare to giant USA of over 300 million.

Finland take in many more refugees than many of its neighbors.

Allot of great music lately comes from Finland, especially in the metal genre.

Kids are outside playing in any weather. the playgrounds in schools are open year round, no fences. Like many cold climates the playgrounds freeze over in winter and kids play ice hockey or bandy or skate.

The international airport in Helsinki is open year round and rarely, if ever closes for weather. We are very well equipped to handle cold and ice. When the UK was frozen and stuck in a few cm of snow and ice, we were humming along as usual.

Look up "sisu" (courage) Finnish winters are not for sissies.

TosaGuy said...

Let's see Finland educate a multi-ethnic society of 330 million people spread out over much of a continent.

Pamela said...

Kwood I like HIM too and also Sonata Arctica(my favorite), Sturm Und Drang, Timo Kotipelto and more.

I've grown fond of Finnish food, one of them is karjalanpiirakka, and maksalaatikko and lingonberries are wonderful.

From Sonata Arctica

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkMhacy5Rwo

Triangle Man said...

Tell me: what's anybody in Finland invented lately?

Angry Birds bitch!

roa said...

Aki Kaurismäki who directed Leningrad Cowboys go America and several other films is Finnish.

AllenS said...

I'm not sure how many Finlanders are in Wisconsin, but I can assure everyone, there are places in Minnesota where Finlanders immigrated to. The Arrowhead area of Minnesota, the town of Sebeka, and a lot of them took up residence in the area of the White Earth Reservation, where they were fondly called Finndians, because of their ability to get along with the local Chippewa Nation.

Chuck66 said...

I say we send in 2,000,000 Mexican illegal immigrants for the free stuff and we will see how long this lasts. Not condemning Mexicans or Finlanders, just saying that you can do all kinds of free stuff when you have a lily white country with few needs outside of your own middle class citizens.

Kevin said...

"Let's see Finland educate a multi-ethnic society of 330 million people spread out over much of a continent."

Well, that's an argument against the creeping Federal takeover of education, isn't it?

Chuck66 said...

"So Finns in Finland are well educated. I bet that Finns raised in the US are also well educated."

Actually somebody did a study on that. A German raised in Germany, vs a German-American raised in America. A Somalian raised in Somalia, vs one raised in the US.

In all cases, the US education was better. One big exception....certain SE Aisian countries (I don't recall which ones, but probably Singapore, maybe Japan).

Personal example...I've known Finish-Americans from Northern Wisconsin and the North shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. They were quite well educated.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

TosaGuy said...

"Let's see Finland educate a multi-ethnic society of 330 million people spread out over much of a continent."

Let's see America doit first.

Scott M said...

Let's see America doit first.

We used to. What happened to change that?

edutcher said...

How much grade inflation?

Is the system about self-esteem and teaching them to be good, ignorant little sheep who will vote for the next Lefty Messiah to come along?

Or are they really expected to learn?

Michael said...

I think their schools are great. I wish our schools were nearly as good. I would expect we spend much more per student than they do so perhaps we are doing something wrong, perhaps asking too little of our kids? I have sent all of my children to private schools where they have gotten excellent educations with very challenging coursework and ungodly amounts of homework and lots of term papers and essays. Good grades were given for good performance, bad for bad and excellent for excellent. I was very satisfied with the private schools but could see no reason whatsoever why public schools could not be as good. The teachers at the private schools made no more money than those in the public sector and the facilities, while better than most, were not extravagant. good for Finland for asking their kids to get with it.

Eric said...

Ahhh, something America should emulate, because we are so much like Finland in so many ways . . .

Yeah. The big advantage Finland has when it comes to schools is the overwhelming majority of the students are Finns.

I live in Finland, it is not as homogeneous as one might think. Most all my friends are immigrants.

Uh huh. Let me suggest to you that your experience may not be typical.

93.4% of the residents of Finland are ethnically Finn, with another 5.6% being Swedes. Moving down the list, we have Russians (0.5%), then Estonians(0.3%). Demographically, the first group you find that doesn't traditionally do well in school is the Roma at 0.1%.

Give me a group of students with that ethnic and cultural mix in the US and I'll put together a school in the top 0.1% percentile. Or, I suppose, an average Finnish school.

I wonder if the students will laugh when I tell them "diversity is our strength".

Chuck66 said...

Eric, you can do that. Take a small town school in North Dakota with 80% Norwegian-Americans, and maybe 20% German-Americans and you will see quite good results. The same if not better than a Finnish school.

Unless the Finnish school is in the Lake Superior region.

Maguro said...

An ambitious curriculum like this one might work here in a school district that's already achieves good results, but it wouldn't do anything for the "bad" school districts that we're all worried about. Pushing all intense, early-age academics on low IQ, low parental involvement kids would just be a big waste of everybody's time.

Jose_K said...

So Finns in Finland are well educated..
Friedamnn quote on sweedish in the USA.
Foreigners do better in the USA than in their own country by far. But scandinavian only do a little better than in their own countries. But still are far better off than other inmigrants

Chuck66 said...

Related....from my days of working in the corporate offices of large Twin Cities companies....these companies are very selective on who they hire. A very large number of employees were brought in from North and South Dakota, and smaller cities in Wisconsin. What was missing? Virtually not a single employee who went to public school in Minneapolis or St Paul.

You can have several dozen co-workers from small-town North & South Dakota, but not a single one from Mpls or St Paul (combined population of 650,000). To reach diversity quotas, they hired foriegn people and gays.

Jose_K said...

BTW: Finalnd has the more liberal policy on arms in all Europe but for the swiss policy

Jose_K said...

Tell me: what's anybody in Finland invented lately

Linux?

Chuck66 said...

My point being is that if you memic the demographics of Scandanavia, you will reach the same if not better results. Mpls looks like Somalia and Mexico. Carrington North Dakota looks like Norway. I worked with more people from Carrington than from Mpls.

MrCharlie2 said...

Why any negative reactions to a small country making a sensible choice for themselves. In my field (computer science) Finland has made great contributions, some mentioned by earlier posters.

Make me question the integrity of some whose comments I have taken seriously in the past. All in fun is one thing, plain stupid is another

Chuck66 said...

MrC, I agree. In the case of my comments, I wasn't attacking Finland. Actually have much respect for the country.

Many of us get a bit annoyed when America bashers take a little homogenious country and try to use that to condemn America. So some people may have taken it that way.

I was just pointing out that the parts of America that are closer to Finnish society have excellent schools.

Summer Anne said...

Maguro: kids in bad school districts have low IQs? According to what?

I think this is the most important aspect of that article: "From then on, teachers were effectively granted equal status with doctors and lawyers. Applicants began flooding teaching programs, not because the salaries were so high but because autonomy and respect made the job attractive. In 2010, some 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots, according to Sahlberg. "

Freeman Hunt said...

That's the great thing about homeschooling. Want to give your kid a Finnish-style education? You can.

Freeman Hunt said...

Note how idiotic most of the comments are in the Metafilter thread.

Dustin said...

Schools provide Fs for students who fail to understand the material. Students are expected to take care of themselves (by working at a damn job while they study, which is not so bad) to demonstrate they are capable professionals upon graduation, which most candidates will not achieve.

Or we could just coddle these students like they are useless drifters, and then ruin our institution's good name AND the value of the degree to those who are actually gifted.

Eric said...

Eric, you can do that. Take a small town school in North Dakota with 80% Norwegian-Americans, and maybe 20% German-Americans and you will see quite good results. The same if not better than a Finnish school.

As Moynihan said, the key determining factor in the quality of an American school is its proximity to the Canadian border.

PatCA said...

The only reasonable comments there were from people who actually lived in Finland or the general area.

The rest of the folks seemed to view the article as a prompt to spew their favorite US/White people insults.

Chuck66 said...

"As Moynihan said, the key determining factor in the quality of an American school is its proximity to the Canadian border."

Canada has nothing to do with it. It has to do with the distance from the Mexican border. Also the distance from Chicago.

ricpic said...

In a gesture towards the less blessed peoples of the world, a gesture of pure multicultaral magnanimity, the Finns have voluntarily dispensed with the playing of Finlandia at the start of their athletic competitions and substituted for it the sound of the vuvuzela.

Calypso Facto said...

So Finns in Finland are well educated. I bet that Finns raised in the US are also well educated.

I took a look at the Washburn School District here in Wisconsin which is largely Finnish and yes, it performs very well against the rest of the state. That might be due to the influence of my very smart half-Finish nieces in those small (31 student) test classes, though!

Ralph L said...

teachers were effectively granted equal status with doctors and lawyers
It used to be a prestigious job here, with low pay. Then all the bright, newly ambitious young women starting going to law school and med school instead of teaching before they got married.

MarkG said...

...and as of 2007, Finland spent about $7,000 per secondary school pupil, and the US spent over $10,000.

I have a theory that there's an inverse relationship between education cost and quality.

Yes, we can learn a lot from the Finns. And save about $3000 per kid also.

Cedarford said...

Jose_K said...
Tell me: what's anybody in Finland invented lately??
======================
Read for yourself. Finland is one of those countries that "hits well above their size" in innovation, science, industrial & arts accomplishments, technology.

MrCharlie2 said...

Chuck66, didn't remotely mean you. Agree with the general drift that what works in a small, homogeneous country does not translate easily to the US.

stlgretchen said...

The United States is on its way to becoming Finland. Schools are becoming social service agencies:

http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2011/08/three-rs-of-education-today.html

cubanbob said...

No doubt the Finns have an excellent educational system. But 'free' it isn't. The Finns pay very high personal taxes to finance their system. Having a nearly homogeneous population helps as well. However the Finns, like the Swedes are much less onerous on corporations with respects to taxation and regulation. They understand that they need strong corporate profits to finance those companies, especially those in the export sector. They understand that they need a healthy export orientated capitalist economy to pay for the needed imports (and also to generate the incomes to tax to support the socialist superstructure) and that those imports are not denominated in their local currency. Not having a world reserve currency and the need to import essentials and be able to pay for them imposes a certain discipline and sanity even among socialists. A lesson lost on our home grown democrat-communists.

Michael said...

CubanBob. I just read that Finland spends less per pupil than does Utah which spends at the bottom for US states. So i am not sure you can correlate their high taxes with their educational success. They are spending their tax revenues elsewhere.

SunnyJ said...

Finland's education amounts to local control due to the countries entire size.

Get rid of Fed control of education and return it to local control, and stop punishing those that excel by reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator in then name of "equality".

Unknown said...

To expand a bit on cubanbob's comment, some notes on the Nordic economies and the uses of taxes therein.

http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml

ironrailsironweights said...

Finland also produced the greatest soldier of all time.

Peter

Peter Hoh said...

The other Peter got there first. Yep, that Simo was one bad-ass soldier.

Peter Hoh said...

A couple things in the Smithsonian remind me of the best of our private schools. Small overall size is part of it. Teachers having a sense of autonomy and the trust of administrators and parents is another.

I don't know that there are many private schools in the U.S. that eschew homework, however. My guess is that most of them could drop homework without seeing student achievement suffer -- especially at the primary level.

cubanbob said...

Michael said...
CubanBob. I just read that Finland spends less per pupil than does Utah which spends at the bottom for US states. So i am not sure you can correlate their high taxes with their educational success. They are spending their tax revenues elsewhere.

8/23/11 6:48 PM

Apples and oranges. The high taxes are for the entire socialist superstructure not just education. Also a lot of our education dollars are spent are spent on things that are not entirely directed on education. The excessive amount of administrators, union work rules, special needs and other regulatory demands drives up per capita costs without any compensating offsets skew our spending with no measurable benefit. The Finns apparently in these areas don't shoot themselves in the foot.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Scott M had an excellent question no one seemed to be able to answer: we were world class in education once. What happened?

Alex said...

Liberals define commitment to education as MOAR MOAR MOAR dollars. Conservatives define commitment as disciplined students who study the material and don't give excuses. 2 different worlds, and never the twain shall meet.

Tari said...

One of the (few) interesting comments at metafilter pointed to the existence of the "Jante" culture in Finland, which seems to be summed up as "nobody is better than anyone else, so do you go thinking so". If this is truly the prevalent attitude in Finland - that exceptional performance and achievement are frowned on as disruptive to society - much of what the Finnish education system is doing isn't going to work very well here. One thing that does work in the US - in my opinion, anyway - is that kids can get ahead because frequently, when their parents or "the system" finds them to be bright, they are pushed along with a lot of "you're smart, you can do better, keep working, etc". And so a child of a prison guard goes to a top 15 law school (pause to pat self on back). We need more of that, not less. And no, not meaningless "self-esteem" nonsense, but real encouragement for kids who can do well to actually succeed.

Finally, as a parent, the idea that being in a system with the smallest difference between the highest performers and the lowest is a good thing freaks me out. Because my kid? Spectacular! Much smarter than average! He's going places - get out of his way! Wait 'til you see what he does when he grows up! Can you tell I'm an American yet? ;)

Clyde said...

Religion?!

And as noted earlier, there's no such thing as a free lunch. THEY may not be paying for it, but SOMEBODY is!