Excerpt from John Wilson's review of Pasi Sahlberg's Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?
If there is one very important lesson that Sahlberg provides, it is the focus on "equity of outcomes." This lesson highlights the Finnish commitment to equity and stands in sharp contrast to our focus on competition which Sahlberg strongly criticizes. Finland pays more attention to social justice, early intervention (especially for special needs students), and strong collaboration among public sector units like health and social services. The results have been an increased level of student achievement while closing gaps among an increasingly culturally diverse student population. If that is not a valuable lesson for American educators and policymakers, I do not know what is.
In showcasing teachers and teacher education in Finland, Sahlberg's writing does not disappoint us. The culture of teaching in Finland is focused on "professional dignity and social respect." Collaboration with other professionals is just as important as teaching students. This has caused teaching to be very popular, and that popularity has resulted in the country's ability to attract the smartest and most dedicated people into a long teaching career. Sahlberg lays out in detail this lesson that is envied by all around the world. Finland shows us that respecting and trusting teachers provides the results that the United States is seeking. When are we going to trust our teachers?
Read entire review and link to the book through the Education Week website.
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