Finland performs much better than England and the USA in the PISA test. In this international test the students have to apply their knowledge in novel situations. It seems that their average pupils achieve
comparatively higher scores than those in other countries.
Does this reflect Government directives, the headmasters, the teachers, teaching methods, continual assessment, revision methods or parental involvement? It would seem that there is no one silver bullet for success and that this is only achieved by a complex well organized system which operates at several different levels. International visitors to Finland are usually perplexed by Finnish success probably because they only see one lesson.
Finnish pupils are made regularly accountable for their own learning and it is this which most probably explains their success. Our system that has ‘listen and learn’ lessons and prolonged cramming for SATs does not encourage pupils to develop their long term memory, which is the basis of successful learning.
Also the childcare is guaranteed during your work hours, and it’s cheap.
Now that I’m living away from Finland, there are so many things I just took granted in Finland. My sister pays less for childcare for 3 kids in Finland than I pay now for just 1 (pretty much half the amount I pay for one kid). Oh, and when we say free school, 1st years in Finland it really means free (up to the age of 16 on average).
You get everything from school, books, pens (including everything you need for art projects, and did we mentioned handcrafts we have in school, materials for those, and tools in schools to make anything), paper, notebooks, everything you need….
Even a musical instrument as learning to play it is part of the curriculum in Finland. And free health care includes dental care for kids, and those who keep up with check ups regulary after turning 18y. This is a big oversight that is missed in most countries where otherwise healthcare is cheap.
An adult now living in Europe and paying 25% in taxes on my meager salary, I am HAPPY to be giving that much to a system that guarantees me and my family quality non-elective health care, affordable education, and generous parental leave. Believe it or not, these “give away” actually incentivize hard work and stabilize society.
There are alternatives to the US approach. Each system has its own flaws and victories and maybe they can’t be mixed and matched. But don’t discount the Finnish model just because of high taxes.