Albert Einstein once said “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
The United States high school drop out rate is at 25 percent compared to Finland with less than one percent. Finnish students have the least amount of homework in the world with just under half an hour a night. Most students don’t seek outside tutoring or lessons because there is no need, they understand the material given to them in class.
What can we learn from Finland whose students are outperforming students in the Asian nations who are assigned the most homework and get the most outside tutoring and lessons? First, the kids get to know their teacher over a series of years instead of being handed off every year to a new teacher, a new start.
Kelly Day noted in a web article from 2015 that teachers in Finland spent around 600 hours teaching annually, or about four or less lessons daily. In the United States, this number increases to over 1,000 hours annually or about six lessons daily. Also, Finland’s education system is dispersed evenly throughout the country, where there is no school better to go to than another.
The World Economic Forum did a study in 2016 and Finland was ranked number one among the world’s education systems. The United States did not make the top 10.
We have a lot to learn from Finland’s education system, and many teachers believe rethinking standardized testing is where we should begin.
“I don’t think standardized testing gives the whole picture of the student, it’s just a snapshot of one day,” Business teacher Jane Melroy said.
She also thinks we should not be putting as much emphasis on testing to be a single measurement on a student’s ability and progress. Melroy allows her students more time to complete tasks because all students work and learn at different paces.
The main problem Social Studies teacher Kenny Eddy believes is the technological failure with the tests. Instead of filling in bubbles on a piece of paper Eddy said he would rather have an iPad or a computer. Eddy thinks standardized tests do not give the whole picture of a student or the teacher at all.
“Pick something and stick with it,” Eddy said. “Either have a state standards or national standards voted on by students and teachers, not governors who haven’t been in a school for years.”
American students should be outside learning with sticks, rocks, and acorns like Finland’s students instead of filling in the bubbles on standardized tests.