People sometimes speak of Finland as this mythical place of educational bonhomie, student-centeredness, and teacher autonomy, but may not paint the full picture of how Finland arrived in such a warm and fuzzy place. Amanda Ripley deftly lays out how this happened in The Smartest Kids in the World:
“The Finns decided that the only way to get serious about education was to select highly educated teachers, the best and brightest of each generation, and train them rigorously. . . .
With the new, higher standards and more rigorous teacher training in place, Finland’s top-down, No-Child-Left-Behind-style mandates became unnecessary. . . . So Finland began dismantling its most oppressive regulations, piece by piece, as if removing the scaffolding from a fine sculpture. . .
Now that teachers had been carefully chosen and trained, they were trusted to help develop a national core curriculum, to run their own classrooms, and to choose their own textbooks.”
In the US, can we find the political acumen and wherewithal to consider the long-game, and support the bold reforms necessary to establish a platform and fulcrum necessary to achieve greater autonomy as an end result, even when it may be initially painful and divisive?