Finland’s school system is swiftly becoming the envy of the world, primarily because of their willingness to experiment with alternatives to formal education to discover if different methods and approaches work better than the strict government controlled academic model. Teaching is a highly valued profession in this Northern European nation, and all over the world teachers come to Finland to tour Finnish schools in order to improve their work at home.
The fact of the matter is that teaching is such a prized job in Finland that students excel because many of them are striving to become teachers.
“For a small, agrarian and relatively poor nation, educating all of its youth equally well was seen as the best way to catch up with other industrialised countries, according to Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educationist at Harvard who has done much to popularise Finland’s methods abroad.” [Source]
Finland’s emphasis on the importance of educators is nothing that has happened over night. As early as the 70’s and 80’s, their public education system was highly regulated and controlled by government, much like what we presently see in the US, stifling education and creating an atmosphere not conducive to learning. However in the 90’s a new era of education emergedin Finland, representing a return to traditional Finnish values of placing high importance on educating the youth.
“…from the early 90s, consciously set out to create a new culture of education characterised by trust between educational authorities and schools, local control, professionalism and autonomy. Schools became responsible for their own curriculum planning and student assessment, while state inspections were abandoned. This required teachers to have high academic credentials and be treated like professionals.” [Source]
A new academy for training teachers has opened up, The Normal Lyceum in Helsinki, and the program may be one of the most unique models in the world, using a didactic approach and giving student teachers more time to understand the depths of teaching. Research-based education training is really the key to what makes Finnish teachers so good: they are taught to take teaching very seriously. The new academy is sought after by so many budding professionals that only 7% of applicants are accepted.
“Teachers in Finland are autonomous professionals, respected for making a difference to young people’s lives.” – Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educationist at Harvard who has done a great deal to popularize Finnish methods abroad.
Simply put, Finland’s teachers are better than everyone else’s because the government and the people of the nation have developed a strong revere for this most important of professions and consider teacher training to be of utmost importance.
Can you imagine a world where teachers and educators are more influential and important to society than investment bankers and politicians?