George Lucas Educational Foundation

Finland's example

Finland's example

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I read this article ( It explains how Finland has improved their educational system by focusing on excellent teaching and teacher preparation instead of testing. Apparently, all teachers are required to have a masters and collaboration among teachers is mandated. Are these ideals that could work here? Or the problem here is bigger than that? The article touches on economic disparities and diversity.

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Melody L. Polson's picture
Melody L. Polson
secondary English teacher... 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th so far... ELL certifi

I don't know that the 'masters degree' is the issue- did you also notice the community involvement?
I do understand that there are advanced methods learned in a masters, but it isn't the 'degree'-- I think it is the commitment. Teachers are respected, it isn't a 'fall-back' job in Finland, it is a calling, and the teachers are considered professionals. Is it that we in the States don't consider a person with a BA a professional?
I'll buy into the concept that one is an 'apprentice' teacher with the BA... you become a Master teacher by teaching, not going to school. Do students suffer because a person is learning their craft? Not if the apprentice is being supervised. Not if the classroom is innovative, and building a set of practices that work.
I'm a little testy on this point-- I'm in my 50's, became a teacher late, and while I'm at BA + 50, it isn't a MA... yet, what I bring to the table is far and away more than what I would have had in MA studies-- I worked in the world, used the skills I teach, and I can demonstrate the application of the skills.
I want the MA... because I believe in learning for its own sake, but I don't think the MA makes one a better teacher.

Ms. M's picture
Ms. M
High School Spanish Teacher MN

I really agree with the "community" aspect. Although I would never disagree that continued education is important, it is important to keep in mind all of the factors that we contend with on a daily basis in our classrooms, all of which have nothing to do with our level of education. Students bring a lot of different experiences, background knowledge, home lives, and cultural ideas with them. They bring all of these to class, and we rarely know much about any of them. No matter how experienced or "mastered" we are as teachers, there are so many factors that we simply can't do anything about. It is a constant struggle to be sure that students are able to move past the base of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, as students must have these basic needs met before that can move onto learning (self-actualization). When students are not receiving the physiological/safety needs, we have to try to make up for these things. We have children who don't feel loved, and yet, we, in a classroom of 35 students, have to try and get them to analyze, synthesize, and most of all, care about whatever the topic of the hour is. No matter how much schooling I have, I can't possibly give my students everything that they need on my own. The fact is, not every student is going to get what they need at home. They're not going to get it all in my classroom, either. Community being the key word...

Melody L. Polson's picture
Melody L. Polson
secondary English teacher... 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th so far... ELL certifi

Valid points, Ms. M.
Are we going to actually invest in the future for these kids? Making sure their health(food, treatment, security) is guarded, their schools are moving forward, and that their talents are recognized.

I don't know that we-- the US, my STATE, certainly-- are ready to pony up what it will take to do these things. My district keeps looking for cheap, and my state is running near the bottom of everything-- tech, teacher training, SCORES, except Drop-Out rates. Because I'm in Nevada, I'm always struck by the number of ways the state avoids paying for the services other states consider a necessity. I'd leave... except it is my home.

The Obama presidency has attempted to address the issues, rather than test the bejeezus out of kids to justify our choices; the Bully Pulpit, however, in this case, has met with vicious back-lash. I fear our 'community' is not as enlightened as we'd imagined. We got a president of color elected, but he's not 'accepted' as a professional-- I know how he feels!
My brother is a business-person and a bigot. So, I am labeled the "over-educated failure" because he's made his first million... and his second. He's moving to Arizona-- because he feels the anti-immigration legislation is good.
He, and his ilk, are not in the majority... but they do have a greater portion of economic output. I haven't minded, so much, except that now with the extensive cuts, I'm also out of work... and my education will stagnate if I can't remain close to the classroom... and substituting doesn't pay for beans...
Round-about... sorry for the rant, we have to AS A GROUP commit to our future- to our kids, and contribute what it will take. Pockets of great education exist, and we can see the benefit of supported students. I remember Hillary Clinton's book, It Takes a Village. She was slammed then, and clearly we have not yet learned the lesson. Instead, folk protect their own... but don't see the advantage of healthy, inventive, problem solving generations... only that their kids do well.
It confuses me, and I don't know where to begin the re-education of our populace.

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