Friday, May 27, 2011

Finland third in education worldwide as United States continues to fall, puts premium on teaching certificates


While we are busy cutting education, countries around the world are investing every dime they can find into their most important resource, the brain.  Why hasn’t America realized this seemingly simple and obvious concept?  It seems to me that they are too concerned with other resources, like oil.

Finland gets it.  Finland, a country whose main exports not too long ago were mostly wood products, realized that the most important resource ANY nation has is the human brain.  And what better way to cultivate the brain than through its nation’s youth.  In Robert Compton’s film, “The Finland Phenomenon," one Finnish official stated, “Politicians, principles, teachers, universities have all understood that this is actually the only resource that we have in Finland that has to be taken good care of, the brain, the young people, the education.”

Finland is now third in education worldwide.  In Finland, teachers are treated with respect and not demonized by the many that would rather spend money on subsidizing big oil.  Finland realizes that the more money you put into education, the better the product. 

Again, this is a simple concept that America doesn’t seem or want to grasp.  You see, if we treated our
teachers like other countries do -- as in treating them with the same respect we do lawyers and business people -- there would be more competition, higher standards, and better teachers.  Instead, we are busy putting a premium on ways to exploit money instead of bettering our economy the right way.  We send our kids off to business school and law school instead of having them study the sciences or other important fields of study.  Imagine if we put this premium on a teaching degree.

In Finland, they value teachers in a completely different way than we do in the United States.  Compton told Andrea Mitchell that the reason Finland does this was because in the 60’s, Finland’s political, business, and educational leaders realized that if they wanted to raise the quality of life for its citizens,  “they had to raise the knowledge content of their citizens.”  Compton continues by explaining how Finland “raised the requirements on what it took to be a teacher, both at the elementary level and at the middle school and high school [levels].”  He informed that to be a physics teacher in Finland, you needed a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and years of pedagogical study.

This is completely different from the United States.  Compton reminds us that these standards cause a ripple throughout the entire system.  When teachers have this high education level, along with their pedagogical training, testing becomes less important.  Finland has done this by narrowing the number of colleges where you could get a teaching certificate, they dramatically increased the knowledge content, and they made the pedagogical training almost like medical school training…and then paid them accordingly.

In Finland, 45% of students are on a vocational track.  They also have a high degree of personal responsibility but have little testing and little homework.  They also emphasize innovation and entrepreneurship.

So why isn’t America taking notice of this winning formula?  Standards like this are almost universal throughout every country ranking high in education.  What is so hard about understanding that our BRAINS are the most important resource we have?  As Compton agrees, it is time to bring our education up to the 21st century level.

The Finland Phenomenon:

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