Lessons of Trust and Support from Finland

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There are few education systems around the world that are fine examples of the new way we want to reform the American Education system. The argument against using these examples being used in America is that they work with homogeneous populations and we work with heterogeneous populations. Although diversity of students is something to embrace here in America, it wouldn’t hurt us one bit to look for a more unified system of education based on trust, support and development instead of distrust and administrative control.

FINLAND; LESSONS: The entire system aims to support the process of teaching and learning. The educational administration is flexible and supportive. The national administration interacts naturally and vigorously with municipalities. Instead of control, the Finnish system emphasizes trust, support and development (Välijärvi, 2003). Instead of nationwide examinations or lists ranking schools, it focuses on self-evaluation. Based on national and municipal goals, the task is to find areas for improvement (Halinen et al, 2006). At the national level, education authorities evaluate the success of educational policy. At the municipal level, they evaluate their own activities and take responsibility for national, sample-based evaluations of student achievement and of students’ health and welfare, and by thematic evaluations, one of which looks at special needs education. (p. 45. Bernard, J. (2012). A place to learn: Lessons from research on learning environments. Montreal, Canada: UNESCO.)