Schools are always influenced by someone, or group’s people, the U. S. and Finland do not escape this aspect either, however there are differences in their political persuasions. The U. S. has a multiple groups of people that help sway legislation of schools, Democrats, Republicans, teacher unions, and other groups. Just as we have such educational policy like No Child Left Behind, Finland also has certain policy that they adhere to.
Before Finland was an educational leader they decided to borrow policy in order to attempt to resolve issues swiftly, according to Chung, Atkin and Moore; the policy was MTL or Masters in Teaching and Learning (2012). Although it is unclear in how long this policy will continue to show success, it survived its purpose; academic achievement for the students. The U. S. policy of NCLB is continuing to sway with difficulties, however has not completely fallen down. I think it needs to be revamped in order to meet the current issues, mainly technology, in order to be more effective.
Chung et al, also report that Finland’s political ideas in regards to education has several key factors that are always taken into consideration, “strong commitment to improving the school system…strong key partnerships…awareness of the challenges…recognizing that the process would require continuous commitment and repetition…considering the contexts of both countries throughout the policy borrowing stages,” (2012, p. 272). These ideologies help make Finland as great as they are today, and if we are truly wanting to leave no child behind and see them excel, we would be wise to learn from them.
Social Goals of Schooling The U. S. s plagued with many social problems, and there are many policies in affect that help reduce the amount of difficulties students have with the issues. For instance, bullying is an issue that many schools in the U. S. are struggling with. Like the U. S. , Finland uses it schools to help elevate these problems of social dismay. Telhauga, Media and Aasen report that Finland schools had a, “task was to reduce class differences, to the benefit of social integration within each of the Nordic nations,” (2006 p. 277). Reducing social injustices in the school system will more than likely have an effect on the public and communities in general.
It is very smart for Finland and the U. S. to use its school systems to help set forth desired behaviors in order to maintain a good citizenship. Savolainen also furthers this idea in that Finland uses its schools to help balance and maintain, “socio-cultural, geographical, and gender equity,” not only with its students but also as society as a whole (2009, p. 285). The U. S. has in the past used schools to help social reform, however now more than ever we seem to be suffering from racial, gender and other inequalities. Perhaps if we borrow policies from productive and leading nations we too can be great again.
Equality of Opportunity in Education Having equal opportunities in education is something that almost everyone can value. The U. S. seems to have struggled with this aspect, while for the most part Finland has succeeded. According to Savolainen Finland has done quite well in many aspects of equality such as, “producing learning outcomes of high quality along with excellent geographical and social equity,” (2009, p. 284). In the U. S. there seems to be gaps between various categories in education, that lead to frustration among teachers, administrators, not to mention students and parents.
Savolainen also explains that as to be expected immigrants in Finland struggle with literacy due to language differences, however, “difference in mathematics is relatively small, and the immigrant students’ mathematics results are very close to the OECD average for non-immigrant students and higher than the average for non-immigrant students in the United States,” (2009, p. 284). The fact that immigrants, struggling with language barriers and sometimes culture difficulties are doing better than U. S. students in mathematics is shocking and dismaying.
Non-immigrant U. S. tudents should be scoring better because they should have no culture or language barriers to overcome and focus on the simplicity of the math at hand. Like the U. S. , Finland struggles with gender equality abilities. In research by Savolainen, gaps in gender in reading literacy score among the second highest according to national tests (2009). This is a little discouraging, however if they are successful in so many other educational areas, it is just a matter of time before they are able to configure a solution to the problem. The U. S. unfortunately has multiple areas in which they must solve problems in order to become successful again.
Economic Goals of Schooling in a Global Economy In the U. S. , in many ways, students are viewed as human capitalist. They are primed to with career, technical and other abilities in hopes to obtain a job in order to be a productive citizen. As with Social goals, Finland and the U. S. used their school to help promote desired behaviors. In Finland, Telhauga et al. , claims that, “school was regarded as a secure investment,” (2006, p. 277). The U. S. also invests in its students in schools in hopes to help it be a better more global dominant force in the eyes of others.
Using schools is a smart to help better the society as a whole is smart move on the part of Finland and the U. S. Telhauga et al. , also relays that, “the basic institutions have shown a remarkable ability to combine economic efficiency and flexibility with social inclusion and protection, and thereby the ability to simultaneously meet the demands of international market competition and to sustain public support,” (2006, p. 279). Unlike the U. S. Finland is not only able to achieve success in its practices but is also is supported by its citizens.
Here in the U. S. e are so diversified in our opinions we can seldom agree on anything, however Finland is achieving their economic goals. When something works, it is usually not to long before someone attempts to profit from it. The U. S. has not been as successful as Finland in education and has even created business with British based book conglomerate Pearson. Finland, according to Malinena, Va? isa? nenb and Savolainen, has now opened up to the idea of cashing in on their success by creating a strategy paper and marketing it to other countries that are interested in configuring ways to have their students achieve more (2012).
Finland and the U. S. may differ in the education abilities, however being an American, if the U. S. were in Finland’s position they too would be profiting from their success. Finland should be ecstatic that they have found something that is productive and can also help the economy all at the same time. Student Diversity/Multicultural Education Finland and the United States do have diversity in their educational population, however they are not equal. According to Itkonena and Jahnukainen, “the student population in the U. S. s much more diverse linguistically, ethnically, culturally, and socioeconomically than in Finland” (2007, p. 9). This could be one of the many reasons why Finland ranks higher in several educational categories, compared to the U. S. Historically, the U. S. has been a melting pot, rich in diversity, and therefore so are its population of students in schools.
Itkonena and Jahnukainen, conclude that Finland, mainly made up of only native people, have higher test scores because of their population of “native students scoring higher,” unlike the U. S. who has more, “non-native students,” that, “tend to lag behind their native peers” (2007, p. 9). Again Finland having such small amounts of immigrants, gives them the advantage over the U. S. They do not have as many language and culture barriers that the U. S. has since we are more diverse than they are. Savolainen also talks about diversity in his research by stating that Finland in order to meet the needs of their students had to learn to, “adopt principles of differentiated teaching” (2009, p. 286).
As a teacher here in the U. S. differentiated instruction is nothing new to teachers, however the article does not go into details on what exactly they did. Differentiated instruction is an acceptable way to make sure you are meeting the needs of all your students, whether they are disabled physically or intellectually, ESL, or have other special needs that need to be met. Bilingual and Multilingual Education Understanding someone in their native tongue is important, however in today’s ever-changing society, it is no longer enough to just understand your own language; in order to be successful, knowing a second language gives you a competitive edge over others.
Finland’s national languages are Finnish and Swedish, so in a sense, a student in Finland could already be bilingual; however these languages are not globally understood. In studies conducted by SJOHOLM, the English language is everywhere in Finland, such as, “entertainment, … film, television, video, music, … information technology, …press and radio, … commerce, industry, sport, youth culture, tourism, and especially the…advertising for consumer goods,” (2004, p. 685).
Knowing widely understood languages helps students be successful. Here in Texas, knowing Spanish is very helpful and students that know or can learn this language usually have more success in the workplace. SJOHOLM states that Finland students recognize that English is a dominant language and therefore not only learn it in school, but take it upon themselves to learn English outside of school (2004). In the U. S. students are required to take at least two years of the same language.
Spanish is usually a popular option for schools to provide, however I think other languages such as Mandarin Chinese, Latin or other languages should be considered due to their benefits such as helping with understanding words, or just being a mainstream language. Even though the U. S. and Finland both have the requirements for students to learn foreign languages, the willingness and want to learn is not the same in each country.
Choices, Charter Schools, Private Schools and Home Schooling Freedoms are something that Americans value, therefore having the freedom to choose what schooling a child participates in is a non-negotiable. Students in the U. S. , at the age of 5, all have the right to attend public schools, however districts decide on which public school a student attends based on their address. Other choices, such as a charter, private or home school are available if a parent chooses not to place their child in public school; however alternative options may not be free and may be selective on who is allowed to enroll.
Dronkers and Roberts, create a synopsis that: rivate but public funded schools (often religious schools) are more effective in cognitive outcomes than public owned and public funded schools, even after controlling for social and cultural composition of these schools; private owned and private funded schools are less effective in cognitive outcomes than public owned and public funded schools, but only after controlling for the social and cultural composition of these schools. (2008, p. 261) The above information indicates that no school is completely flawless, no matter what country a student resides in.
Therefore a parent and student must consider their beliefs and expectations in order to choose the proper school. Both the U. S. and Finland have private and public schools, however, “private government-dependent schools are clearly more effective than comparable public schools,” and, “that private independent schools are less effective than public schools,” (Dronkers and Roberts, 2008, p. 295). In comparing Finland and the U. S. , Finland has more private schools than public schools, and the U. S. is just about the opposite. In order to be a worthy competitor to Finland, the U. S. ust somehow derive a plan to bring up the quality of education.
State and National Curriculum Influence on Education Comparing Finland and the U. S. in this aspect of education is almost unfair, because it is very different in comparison. The U. S. is led more federally or nationally, giving little decisions to the state and even less to the individual cities and or districts within the state. Itkonena and Jahnukainen, list Finland also as a “national curriculum,” however it is, “overseen by the Ministry of Education,” and “schooling is based on national goals that guide local decisions” (2007, pp. 10-11).
Finland, unlike the U. S. has more local control, which is a factor on why they are so successful in education. Local government, local educational leaders, teachers, parents and other community members are able to make decisions for students, not a group of people that do not know or understand the community’s culture or needs. Standardized testing is also something that Finland does very differently than the U. S. Savolainen reports that Finland only takes one nation standardized test which occurs during the 12th grade (2009). On the other hand, the U. S. has numerous standardized tests, often time as many as four during one grade level.
Students are also subject to other tests to judge how well they will do on the upcoming standardized tests. Standardized tests in the U. S. constantly change, the criteria of the tests change, the grade level at which they are tested change and even the testing company themselves changed. All of these changes make it difficult to truly see how well the child is doing; Finland has a different approach to evaluating their students. According to Savolainen, Finland elementary school children are given “descriptive verbal evaluations,” and only, “give numerical grades to students only from the sixth grade onwards” (2009, p. 85).
Savolainen also explains that parents are encouraged to conference with the teacher and their child at the end of each school year to learn about their child and allow the child to evaluate themselves. A numerical grade is sometimes stressful to a child; having a system like Finland for elementary students probably helps build confidence and self-esteem also in the student. The U. S. , like Finland also encourages parents to come and discuss the child’s progress in mandatory meetings; however parent involvement is often times low.