“Excellence in education is not about competition but cooperation, not about choice but equity”. Lessons to learn from an education superpower.

If you cannot improve a system from within, you need expertise and inspiration from outside. Looking at the right models makes the difference.

Is Canada’s higher education system (the closest version to our American neighbors’) looking at the right model? This article describes a successful alternative to the North American way for education: the Finnish model, which more than a model it is a philosophical approach to the most basic human right after health, food, water or shelter. Here some remarkable quotes extracted from it:

“There’s no word for accountability in Finnish. Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.”

“Real winners do not compete.” There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.

“…in America, parents can choose to take their kids to private schools. It’s the same idea of a marketplace that applies to, say, shops. Schools are a shop and parents can buy what ever they want. In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same.”

“…a country has to prepare not just some of its population well, but all of its population well, for the new economy. To possess some of the best schools in the world might still not be good enough if there are children being left behind.”

Finland’s experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation, and not on choice, but on equity.


Picture: northern lights in Finland http://compacttravels.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/the-northern-lights.jpg

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