The New York Times recently published a remarkable article, “Why students do better overseas,” which has been picked up by many other news services and is causing a stir.
The Times focuses on the top performing school system in Finland and what makes that country’s schools superior. Several points are raised, but here is perhaps the key one:
“…the most important effort has been in the training of teachers, where the country leads most of the world, including the United States, thanks to a national decision made in 1979. The country decided to move preparation out of teachers’ colleges and into the universities, where it became more rigorous.”
Under the Finnish system, the Times continues:
“Finns have made teaching the country’s most popular occupation for the young.”
In part, that is because Finland’s teacher candidates don’t have to suffer through the nonsense mindlessness that takes place in far too many US education school classrooms. Finland’s teacher candidates are learning their subject matter in front line college classrooms.
A few more key points Kentucky should consider:
“Finnish teachers are not drawn to the profession by money; they earn only slightly more than the national average salary. But their salaries go up by about a third in the first 15 years, several percentage points higher than those of their American counterparts. Finland also requires stronger academic credentials for its junior high and high school teachers and rewards them with higher salaries.”
Imagine that…somewhat better pay for obviously better performance. What a capitalistic idea!
Here in Kentucky, the vast majority of our teachers come from education schools. And, a couple of months ago Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education president Bob King told the Kentucky Board of Education that he was concerned that teacher candidates coming into his Ed Schools had the lowest ACT scores and needed more college remedial course work than any other school on the state’s various campuses. The Finns would be shaking their heads.