The Education Dilemma & a Finnish Solution Twenty years ago America lead the world in education. Although, US universities still rank among the best in the world Americas grade schools no longer do so well. American students currently rank 31st in math, 17th in Science and 14th In reading (PISA) These rankings are acquired through an International exam called the Programmer for International Student Assessment or commonly called the PISA.
As American students plummet further and further behind other developed countries professionals and parents alike are questioning what we could possibly do to reverse his dangerous trend; If not America’s future Is certainly grim, but the education dilemma does have promising solutions. When examining other countries who produce students who excel In these subjects It Is only right to look toward the shelling gem of the world’s education systems, Finland. Their students currently rank 6th In the world in math, 2nd In science and 3rd In reading (PISA).
Flatlands schooling system presents many examples of how we can improve student learning and progress. By making simple changes and using Finland as a role model there is much pope for future American students to climb back up the worlds academic ladder once more. The best place to start in education is always with the students themselves. There is much to learn from the incite of youth and American students could learn from the attitudes held by students in Finland. Finland not only has a much smaller population but it is also more homogeneous which makes it difficult to compare to America.
This is also true for other countries with high PISA scores such as Japan and South Korea. These factors makes it easier to maintain a standard among students. Despite these differences there are still ways that we can teach and encourage students to see learning in a different light. In Finland students are more academically focused while maintaining a very casual education experience. In most schools there is no tardy bell and uniforms are unheard of. They even aspire to provide a home like environment to students, and in addition only assigning about 30 minutes of homework each evening.
How can these children perform so much better whilst enjoying the leisure of more lenient attendance polices and less homework? There is less of a focus on other aspects of school such as sports and sometimes music. There are still opportunities for kids to choose to Indulge In extracurricular satellites but within the school itself there Is less of a focus. They still Indulge In kinesthesia learning but It Is more about learning to play than It Is about winning. In fact, there Is less of a focus on competition In general.
Much of the education dilemma stems from where American values are placed. There Is more of a push for students to be academically driven abroad simply because It Is more appreciated. If there was a higher appreciation for academic In the united States students would have more of a drive to excel In school. Also, once students reach the 9th grade they are able continue on an academic track or choose a vocational program. The Fins boast a 96% graduation rate offering not only flexibility but also path to success. Americas current graduation rate is 75% (Publisher).
In the united States of America the standard is too stagnant. With our exponential growth in technology and must be updated to suit the needs of the generation. Without progressing and allowable material students are subjected to falling behind of the worlds Job market. Because we do not adjust the material students learn year to year students have no hope of progressing in grade school. If more challenging coursework is offered at a younger age than students will be given a chance to keep pace with other students around the world.
In Finland students who achieve at a higher level are not put into special programs. (Publisher) The focus is on the children who are struggling and they are provided with free tutoring services. What could happen if the bar were simply et higher for American students and they were provided with a means to achieve the standard? Not only are our standards for our students low, but also for the qualifications of our instructors. In Finland all teachers are required to have a masters degree. This program is very selective only accepting 10% to 13% of applicants. Publisher) This way, all teachers are qualified. The appreciation for teachers and the opportunity of education they provide for children is valued more highly in Finland. If a teacher is below par, they are not fired but simply provided with more training. This is not the case in America. It is a struggle for the US to get qualified professionals where they are needed most. Many instructors in the United States who have tenure are unbearable, unprepossessing and are never provided with the training they need to become proficient.
To many, this void seems far too vast to fill without adding to our national debt. At first glance this may seem true but if you are to study Finland system there is a potential solution provided. The pay and incentive to take these positions must be desirable to qualified individuals. Therefore, coacher salary must be increased. In Finland, teachers are paid anywhere from $45 to $50 per hour for elementary school, $75 to $80 for secondary school (Taylor) Although, teaching positions in other countries can often provide a higher salary Finish teachers are granted among the most freedom.
They are allowed to build their own curriculum and even choose their own textbooks. This teacher empowerment is priceless. Also, the amount of money instructors and administrators make is the same. Therefore, the cost of paying staff salary is not much different than in the United States. With the national debt at an all time high many feel conflicted about spending more money on education. How can the United States Justify increasing the national education budget? The good news is, they don’t have to.
The Finnish school systems spend the same or less per student each year. Finland spends only $7,500 per student, compared to the United States’ average $8,700 (Westerners). Nothing is stopping the United States from making these changes except themselves. All it takes is a change of perspective and then a change of priorities. As Confucius once said “If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children”.
If the United States realizes the importance of it’s future than it will need to take measures to better educated students. This will take dramatically changing the way teachers are prepared for positions and how those positions are awarded. Also, a more rigorous curriculum and standards for all students and teachers needs to be implemented. If these changes are made and an investment is made on the minds of the American youth there is really no telling how much growth could be made. 1. Publisher, Hank. The Finnish Miracle. ” Aggregations.