So how does a society develop such a high level of trust? From an early age, a strong sense of independence and personal responsibility is cultivated in Finnish children. They walk to school, take public transportation and play outside on their own. Play, creative thinking, and awareness of personal interests are encouraged both in and out of schools. There is also an understanding that students can learn from the world around them. The education system is mindful about how students learn outside of school and seeks to connect learning in the classroom with learning in the real world.
But what about accountability? How can we know if these students are succeeding? At our Fulbright orientation in Helsinki, one of the teacher panelists that spoke to us noted that a main focus in education in Finland is to develop good citizens, not just students with numbers above a certain cut off point. Ironically, this philosophy of education seems to impact student success when viewed from the familiar lens of numbers and scores that the rest of the world seems to obsess over. Finland continues to rank highly in PISA scores when compared to other countries around the world.
There is no simple answer to what makes education in Finland so good. There is no formula or internet meme that can capture why education works so well here. Success in education is a mix of many things, but I'm beginning to see that a foundation of the right attitudes are paramount to building a strong educational system. At the very base of it all in Finland is trust. It can't be measured,
but its value is greater than the rest of the world seems to realize.
Let's keep the discussion going here. In the comments below, tell me:
In what ways would improved trust benefit your ability to teach and reach your students?
In the US, what barriers stand in the way of adopting attitudes similar to those held in Finland?
How can you encourage a culture of trust (between teachers/students, parents/teachers, administrators/teachers, community members/teachers) in your classroom and district?