Finnish Director General of Education Discusses Finland’s Success

Let's dive in

Timo Lankinen, Director General of the Finnish National Board of Education, address the Building Blocks for Education conference in Ontario.

Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence, Singapore:

The first building block to success is the principals
The role of politicians is sometimes to get out of the way
20% of Singapore’s government spending goes to education
Recognized that performance art can help promote 21st century skills

Timo Lankinen – Director General, Finish National Board of Education:

In Finland grade 1′s spend only 3 hours in school a day
Focus is moving from literacy and numeracy to arts and physical activity
Teachers salaries are not higher, but it is a very valued profession
21st century skills are a key part of Finland’s success
All teachers in Finland hold a Master’s Degree

Michael Fullan, Special Advisor to the Premier of Ontario:

Transparency is here to stay
Relevant and personalized curriculum is helping grad rates
Role of central government in education is strategy, manage evaluation, explain to taxpayers what is happening
Clamour for autonomy occurs with bad policies and bad leadership
Not acceptable in definition of professional teacher or principal to say “leave me alone” – it is a balance between autonomy and integration

Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education:

“The fight for education is a daily fight for social justice”
Department of Education needs to be an engine of innovation and not a compliance office
Interesting – 2000 high schools produce 1/2 of US dropouts – call them “dropout factories
US is in the midst of a quiet revolution in school reform
Courage not resources will transform education in the U.S.
In the U.S. the kids that need the most help get the least

Andreas Schleicher, Special Advisor on Education Policy, Directorate for Education, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD):

Once you remove the influence of social background, public schools do better than private schools.
Use statistical neighbours and interrogate data.
Technology enables non-linear learning.
Best systems attract great teachers and give access to best practices and quality.
Schools need to focus on the things that our kids will really need to know – learning how to learn and collaborating with others.

There is some reassurance in knowing so many jurisdictions are having the same conversation. Many of our conversations in West Vancouver and the directions we are moving sound similar to those being implemented around the world. The challenge, though, when we look at Finland, or when others look at us, is to take the ideas and apply them to what can be very different local contexts.

About profesorbaker

Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family.
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