Dianve vs Finland, both teams win.
Video courtesy of Google Images
For years, we looked at Finland and wondered what they do that makes them so successful. We used to do the same with China. Years ago I watched a video about Chinese education (I wish I remembered the title). China does not encompass the vast diversity which makes the US a melting pot. China predominantly has less Chinese-learning students as the US does for ELL's. China is also not known to address special education. Their system appears to be a survival of the fittest experience.
Now enter Finland. Finland has a high educational success rate, and values professionals in the field. So, what are they doing that makes them successful? I repeat; they value professionals in the education field. Education is supported, not spit upon by society. Supports and resources are in place, not removed by politicians who have never been an educator themselves. Teaching is a hard job, and Finland recognizes that. What I have not heard discussed is another vast difference between Finland and the US-poverty.
Finland does not have a high poverty rate. (See my past post on the effects of poverty on education). In a study of 35 countries (HERE), the US had the second-highest poverty rate, whereas Finland was the second-lowest. Poverty impacts education drastically. Children attend school lacking nutrition, thus focus. Children come in never having been read to, putting them years behind grade-level. Children miss school due to transience. Children are coerced into gang-relations for survival. The list of effects goes on and on. Poverty is a virus, nothing good comes of it and it needs to be contained, or it spreads and festers.
The US can dream about being Finland in regards to education, but as long as we have a wealth of diversity and ELL's, it is comparing apples to oranges. While diversity is an exciting melting pot, the immensity of poverty affecting education cannot be ignored, and once again is comparing apples to oranges. In the mean time, we can still look at what Finland is doing right, and improve upon those areas.
I recently watched an interview of Diane Ravitch (Author of The Death and the Life of the Great American School System) on the Jon Stewart show. It gave me such pride to see a public support of education by Jon Steward. Other than Matt Damen, I have not seen many celebrities take such a strong stand to publicly support education. These two have parents who were in education, thus appreciate the challenges educators face against the perception of their impact. Not that it is their responsibility, but the gesture of support is appreciated and noted.
Below are points by Diane Ravitch which rang true with what I know to be best practice. For those of you not familiar with her, Diane used to work for the Bush administration and was initially in support of the No Child Left Behind Act. After becoming deeply familiar with the Act, Diane reversed her supporting campaign, and has been a proponent of different types of reform (best practices), as illustrated below.
"America is not overwhelmed by too many bad teachers, America is overrun by too much poverty...we should be talking about how do we make sure our children have adequate health care & do we have PreK education..." ~Diane Ravitch
To see the full interview, click the link below.
Video courtesy of Google Images