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Re: [xmca] Finland

I reply below to Jaana's question and to Andy's first question.

Jaana, regarding the first explanation - The Finnish language and
population - Miettinen reiterates the same critiques that Sahlberg has
mentioned: namely the homogenic population and easy spelling of Finnish
language (plus subtitles in television). Miettinen, however, downplays
these as weak explanations since both features are present in other
countries that have not been successful in PISA.

Regarding the second explanation - The political history of Finland -
Miettinen briefly describes the creation of Finnish language and nation
state and argues that schooling has played an important role in the creation
of the Finnish cultural identity and cultural foundations of the the
nation. Miettinen mantains that the connection between strong education and
culture, and the survival of a small and linguistically solitary nation has
been a recurrent theme in policy discourse. Yet, he downplays also this
explanation since similar nation building has taken place also in other
countries in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Miettinen elaborates most the fifth and sixth explanations, and their
interconnection, along the lines of my earlier summary of his argument.

Andy, you asked:

"Do you agree with Rauno Huttenen's points about Finland's education system
being the outcome of the struggle of social movements? (Note Luc
Boltanski's study of the outcome of the Paris 1968 movements, where he
showed that such outcomes can be perverse!)"

My knowledge of the history of Finnish education system relies on accounts,
such as that of Rauno's and Reijo's. I checked what Reijo writes about this
history in his book, and he gives the same story. The political initiative
came from the leftist parties (from Social Democrats to Communists) and was
supported by the Agrarian party. The latter raised the issues of regional
equality and the maintenance of the vitality of sparsely populated agrarian
regions. Conservatives who had a minority position in the parliament
managed to get a streaming system included in the new comprehensive school.

The outcomes of the reform were indeed not known in advance. Miettinen
describes the reform of comprehensive school as an extensive social
experiment, as experiences from similar reforms were not fully available at
the time. Eventually, the streaming system developed into a crisis, since
many students faced an educational deadend; 30 % of the students in the 9th
grade had selected combinations of streams that did not allow access either
to upper secondary schools or to vocational college. This crisis was
resolved through introduction of part-time special education system and
student care, which was supported by inter-agency of various organizations
at multiple levels, like I summarized Miettinen's argument in my earlier


On Sun, Jul 21, 2013 at 10:40 AM, Jaana Pirkkalainen <
jaana.pirkkalainen@kolumbus.fi> wrote:

> 21.7.2013 6:46, Andy Blunden kirjoitti:
>  (1) that Finnish education suffers from "encapsulation" like schools
>> elsewhere? (2) is not important - they're only kids after all, and is
>> overcome in late adolesence, (3) is reflected in the nature of Finnish
>> society in some way?
> Hi,
> as I have not read Miettinen's book, would like some more information
> about the way he analyzed or described the 1^st and the 2^nd and their
> relation to overall development of the educational system in Finland.
> Language and population for example? What does that mean? Small population
> with homogenous culture? Anything else? And how does he articulate the
> political history in the context of education?
> As Antti writes there are more resent trends that threaten equality of
> education and other sectors of welfare state. But it is not only media or
> middle class parents who are interested in ranking schools by performance,
> it is also a political debate which divides political field. Education
> system has some what to do with pedagogy, but it has everything to with
> politics.
> And it is not just the immigrants, but the resources of declining counties
> in eastern and nothern Finland, segregation on residental areas in bigger
> towns (e.g. Helsinki ,Vantaa, Tampere..), growing unemployment , and so on
> and so forth.
> One very interesting question is, how much this branding of Finnish
> educational system is related with government's efforts to make on new
> export of it?
> ….
> Andy asks whether ”(1) ...Finnish education suffers from "encapsulation"
> like schools elsewhere? (2) is not important - they're only kids after all,
> and is overcome in late adolesence, (3) is reflected in the nature of
> Finnish society in some way?”
> My answere is 1) yes, 2) yes, and 3) yes.
> - Jaana