What Washington state can learn from the Finnish education model

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, EOI hosted Finnish education leader and author Dr. Pasi Sahlberg for a conference on educational systems in Finland and Washington state. At the conference, Dr. Sahlberg spoke to state policymakers and education leaders about the success of the Finnish educational model.

Here’s a sample of Sahlberg’s message, from The Seattle Times:

Pasi Sahlberg, an official with Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture, is in Seattle this week to share the story of Finland’s success, and what states like Washington can learn from it.

Sahlberg’s message, although he is too polite to put it so bluntly: Stop testing so much. Trust teachers more. Give less homework. Shorten the school day.

Finland, in other words, has become an education star by doing the opposite of what’s happening in many U.S. schools and school districts, including many in Washington state.

In comparing Finland and Washington state, Dr. Sahlberg’s offered this message to our state’s education leaders:

Sahlberg spoke almost harshly about charter schools, which Washington voters have just approved, saying they privatize the public-school system. In Finland, he said, parents don’t angst over where to send their children to school. All the schools, he said, offer the same high-quality program.

Not that everyone should simply copy Finland, he said.

“I’m not here to tell you that if you just do what Finland is doing, you will be just fine. It doesn’t work like that.”

During his visit, Sahlberg made time to meet outside of the conference with other leaders in the Washington State education system, and presented at the Rainier Club downtown. He was also featured on KIRO Radio’s Ross and Burbank show (around the 12 minute mark of this clip) to speak about the Finnish system and its applicability to Washington state.

By EOI intern Bill Dow

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