And why does Finland's system get such great outcomes? According to him, it's these three things:
- Teaching is a highly respected profession. Only 10% of those who want to be teachers are accepted.
- Teacher training lasts five years and ongoing teacher training is considerable.
- Students respect the teachers, pay attention and work hard. ("When I asked Finns whether there were some families who despised education and resented schools, they seemed puzzled by the question.")
The correspondent notes that lots of Finnish students are in "special education", especially for behavioral factors. I think my class last year would have achieved 25% more without one or two particular students who, in turn, merited more specialized attention to get on track as well.
On a favorite Republican talking point, it's hard to get rid of bad teachers in Finland: "In Kulosaari, the head teacher, Anneli Rautiainen, said alcoholic teachers in Finland are moved between classes and sometimes even between schools, so that they don't do too much damage to any one child's education." Perhaps firing flexibility isn't the #1 factor. After all, you can get rid of bad teachers, but you've gotta have someone to replace them...