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Re: [xmca] Finland

17.7.2013 8:44, Larry Purss kirjoitti:
This question of *respect* is an interesting topic.
I have read that it is more difficult in Finland to become a teacher than a
doctor? Is this true.?
That difference if true would indicate a significant difference in the
cultural-historical  value and virtue of becoming a teacher.
I also noticed at the AREA conference in Vancouver that very few public
school teachers were in attendance. It seemed that many university
professors were exploring topics and themes ABOUT teaching in public
schools but few actual public school teachers were participating or leading
I wonder if in Finland more public school teachers would be in attendance
at a similar conference?
The comment that teachers in North America focus on *empirical* ways of
understanding and have little understanding of the genesis of
*theoretical* ways of constructing knowledge also seems relevant.
I am circling around this topic of *teacher respect* and how central
*education* is in comparison to medicine, psychology, etc.
It seems education in Finland is seen as a complex and valuable and
recognized profession, [with autonomy and trust of the participants]
whereas in North America teaching is less valued and lumped in with other
public sector  types of employment [which are devalued as dependent on
private enterprise]

Andy has posted a very interesting article which historically critiques the
notion of *dependency*.
As he mentions [referencing Nancy Fraser] the understanding of *dependency*
exists in many different REGISTERS.
I wonder if education and public school teaching are not as respected as
medicine, law, psychology, etc. because public school teachers  are being
registered as dependent positions, dependent on private enterprise.

What I appreciate within this listserv is the recognition that education
and learning receive as complex developmental practices.

On Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 12:35 PM, <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:

But what you say Andrew would require that we respect teachers - something
that much of this country seems hard pressed to do, consider all the uproar
around teachers salaries. Certainly some (much?) stems from strong
anti-union sentiment,

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 16, 2013, at 9:44 AM, Andrew Babson <ababson@umich.edu> wrote:

I thought I would follow up on this, especially re Peter's post just
earlier about Bill Gates' influence on education "reform". It also seems
from Bruce's original post that I may have missed an earlier discussion
about Finnish society.

Yesterday in class, we got into *Finnish Lessons, *and according to the
book it's clear that the Finnish model is very different than what Gates
and his ilk are building. For one, testing and assessment are put in
proper perspective. Because teachers are taught to consider themselves as
experts and researchers of their own profession, data are welcomed but
scrutinized and used fittingly. In other words, the data serves them and
their students, not the other way around--- a very Deweyan approach.
Teachers are given the autonomy and the professional respect to do this,
and they are not pitted against each other, which contributes to mutual
trust. They seem to be comfortable sharing knowledge with and learning
their colleagues.

We can then ask why this approach and that of Gates and the "global
education reform movement (GERM)", as Sahlberg calls it, diverge so
drastically. Why not take a hint from Finnish educators and students, who
have established a long-term record of success?

Among many reasons for this divergence, it needs to be highlighted that
Finnish model is not easily or quickly replicable, let alone measurable.
is a cultural artifact, an outgrowth of shared values and practices,
among them cooperation, respect, and trust. To further illustrate: one of
my students worked directly for Arne Duncan at the DOE for three years,
said that although the Finnish model was explored, Duncan et al.
that only classroom-based pedagogical procedures could be replicated
Now, you can guess how skeptical we in this newsgroup might be about that
approach, considering how much education happens outside of the classroom
in Finland, and the above point that you can't import, a la carte,
sociocultural dynamics involved in classroom pedagogy.

So, the Gates/GERM approach begs us to wonder what if about all of this
money spent on "reform". What if it had been spent on building and
implementing a 30 year plan to 1) transform the status of teachers into
experts who collaborate with other experts, and 2) apply the Vygotskian
principle of balancing autonomy and support to the entire system? Again,
it's not like I think we here in the USA don't have it in us to learn
the Finns (after all, as Sahlberg points out, they took a lot inspiration
from US educational research and practice). Not to be simplistic, but I
still think it mostly goes back, as I mentioned before, to political
Although habits and dispositions (and by extension, "cultures") are hard
change, they can be changed with enough motivation and time.


On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 8:27 PM, Andrew Babson <ababson@umich.edu> wrote:

Hi XMCA'ers, and thanks Bruce for bringing up this topic. I assigned
Finnish Lessons for one of my classes, and we just started this past
so your post is timely. Once we get into the book, I'll share some
thoughts in this thread. Rauno, I appreciate your historical insights on
Finland (and Leif, interesting to know about trends in Sweden).

It's galling to realize that the major thing, really, standing in the
of solving so many social problems in democracies is political
not because we don't know what to do, or that we don't have the money
to do
it, but because advocacy hasn't been organized or passionate enough to
it happen. It's good to see positive examples like Finland's education
turnaround, generations in the making.


Andrew Babson, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania

On Fri, Jul 5, 2013 at 3:50 AM, Leif Strandberg <
leifstrandberg.ab@telia.com> wrote:

Good Luck Finland...

don't do what we have done... a massive support to private schools
("private" is an euphemism... for s.c. risk capitalism)

and the result is segregation and bad quality

2 jul 2013 kl. 18.49 skrev Rauno Huttunen:

Pasi Sahlberg is respected educational scientist in Finland. He knows
what he is talking about.

In 50th and 60th there was big debate in Finland concerning grand
reform. Existing school system was reproducing unequality. Finally
called "Maaseudun puolue" (Agrarian Party) agreed to work together
social democrats and communists in order to plan and execute of a
school reform which would guarantee every child equal opportunities in
educational system. Right wing parties gave heavy resistance but
reform was executed.

Actually I am personally perfect example of this new Finnish
school system. I have working class background and my school success
lower grades was poor. In old school system I would have never make
it to
"Lyseo" (high school/gymansium/college) and university. I had only
distant relatives who make it to Lyseo and only one who make it to

Now we have to fight for our school system and not let private schools
run over the well working public school system.

Rauno Huttunen

Lähettäjä: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
k&#228;ytt&#228;j&#228;n Bruce Robinson [bruce@dolphy.eclipse.co.uk]
Lähetetty: 2. heinäkuuta 2013 19:16
Vastaanottaja: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
Aihe: [xmca] Finland

Hello xmcaers,

Following the recent discussion on Finnish culture, you might be
interested in this interview about the Finnish education system and
it is so successful from today's Guardian. There's some interesting
speculation about the relationship between relative equality and the
education system.

Bruce R
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this is a comment on this topic. It seems a bit odd and strangely funny to read this discussion on Finnish educational system. That's beacause I myself have lived through the development (or non-development) of it, first as a child and then as a mother.Not that much has happend since my school years in the 1960's and -70's comparing the exeperience of my son's path and struggling some ten years back.

Firstly one should distinguishe the political struggle for the change of doubleschooling system during the 1960's and -70's. And then the struggle tangled with teachers education.

Until 1968 Finland had a doubleschooling system. Children entered school at the age of seven (as still is the case) and went trhough for next four grades together in "kansakoulu" (meaning some what like nationschool). Then there was the split to either grammar school (in Finnish oppikoulu) which were mostly private schools, with few exceptions (state schools) and to "kansalaiskoulu" (no English translation for that, meaning citizens school) which was a continuum of "kansakoulu" for next four years.

Grammar school was private school leading to higher education, and "kansalaiskoulu" was towards vocational education. So working class children went to "kansalaiskoulu" and then straight to work or vocational education to become joiners, auto mechanics, waitresses and so on. And the upper and middle class children went to grammar schools, then to high scool and then to universites or second grade vocational schools and became nurses, engineers and so on.

1968 law of Primary school was established and in 1972 started the implementation of the law.

But it was not the good will of the teachers, or professors of education that made it happen. It was a strong leftist struggle for equal rights for every kid to educate themselves, and also still the postwar situation of the nation in some sense too. (Everybody of course knows Finland's brother-in arms- relation with the Third Reich and the defeat in 1944 and then peace treaty with the Soviet Union)

The opposition for the primary school act was harsh, and the teachers education was tangled with that backlash. The business elite, some professors of education and right wing politicians set up a foundation called Support Foundation for Free Schooling (Vapaan koulutuksen tukisäätiö), which had its primary reestablish private schools, testing and assesment. They did this by influencing the teachers education system. The Foundation ceased operating in 1991. By then they had been able to change the course of the development of Finnish educational system at least in three levels. Firstly they were able to intervene the selection of the students for teacher education in universities, secondly they had a strong hold of the educational departments and thirdly they managed to take over most of the educational admiministration.

This is a very short and brief overview of post-war Finland, the main poin being that Finnish sosciety is still or again struggling the same issues as back then. The romanticizing "branding" of Finland or its educational system is *not* -- for many parts -- true today.Or has ever been.

Socioeconomical status and residential area are linked the overall well being of children as they are all over the world. But what is quite incompatible with the goals and intentions for the Primary School Act in 1968 -- parents education still designate their childrens educational and vocational path.

So Finland with its educational system is not a dream land. Sorry to disappoint you folks, the struggle goes on!

- Jaana