Civic Issues blog post 2

In which Josh get’s more in depth in to the core problems with Higher Education.
As it turns out, this is our next english assignment. (Lucky me).

I wanted to write about a specific example of higher education. More specifically, higher education in Finland. As many people know, higher education in Europe is drastically different than anything we have here. Although there are several reasons why you may be able argue the down side of their school system, I personally think that Finland and all the other European countries are doing something right.

The gist of the Finnish Education system is that there is no tuition fee along with fully subsidised meals served to students who are full time. The availability of education isn’t even just at the level Universities. Free education is provided starting at an incredibly young age. The present day finnish school system provides a daycare program, nine year comprehensive school and post-compulsory secondary general academic and vocational education, higher education at a Uni and finally lifelong adult education. The interesting thing about the Finnish education policy is that they do not select, track, or stream students during early education at a common basic level. All levels of the education is publically funded.

The Nordic strategy for achieving equality and excellence in education has been based on constructing a publicly funded comprehensive school system without selecting, tracking, or streaming students during their common basic education.[1] Part of the strategy has been to spread the school network so that pupils have a school near their homes whenever possible or, if this is not feasible, e.g. in rural areas, to provide free transportation to more widely dispersed schools. Inclusive special education within the classroom and instructional efforts to minimize low achievement are also typical of Nordic educational systems.[1]

After their nine-year basic education in a comprehensive school, students at the age of 16 may choose to continue their secondary education in either an academic track (lukio) or a vocational track (ammattikoulu), both of which usually take three years. Tertiary education is divided into university and university of applied sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu, formerly known as polytechnic) systems. Universities award licentiate– and doctoral-level degrees. Formerly, only university graduates could obtain higher (postgraduate) degrees, however, since the implementation of the Bologna process, all bachelor degree holders can now qualify for further academic studies. There are 17 universities and 27 universities of applied sciences in the country.

The Education Index, published with the UN‘s Human Development Index in 2008, based on data from 2006, lists Finland as 0.993, amongst the highest in the world, tied for first with DenmarkAustralia and New Zealand.[2] The Finnish Ministry of Education attributes its success to “the education system (uniform basic education for the whole age group), highly competent teachers, and the autonomy given to schools.”[3]

According to the latest PISA assessment 2012, Finland does not have the best education system in the world anymore, ranked 12th with a score of 519 barely passing Canada (518), Poland (518) and Belgium (515). Finnish Ministry is determined to seek non-Finnish experts to fix the current situation[4]

7 responses to “Civic Issues blog post 2

  1. I recently watched a TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson, who studies education systems all over the world. One point he raised that I found insightful and encouraging (since I am an education major, after all) is that countries with the most successful education systems, like Finland, regard teaching as one of the most esteemed professions. To understand why this would make a difference, think of the professions we esteem in the U.S. and the kinds of people that funnel into those paths: doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc. Those professions attract the best and the brightest of our population. However, those professions do not necessarily have the greatest impact on a society. I would argue that teachers have the strongest influence on any society (with an established education system, that is) because everyone must pass through 12 years of school and usually more. Throughout all of this time, teachers are the ones who mold us into who we are. Thus, why would we not want the best and brightest in teaching and educational administrative positions?

  2. I really liked your use of links that took us to your frequent use of hyperlinks that took us to web pages that would enrich our meaning of a concept, instead of you simply giving us the definition in your post. This is definitely how blogging should be done! Good job breaking down the Finnish system for us.

  3. Over spring break, I was travelling abroad and I met a bunch of other foreign college students. In our travels, we were talking about the costs and structures of college systems in different countries. Many of them mentioned having to pay a few thousand dollars for their entire education, and were blown away when I explain the costs associated with going to school in the US. They were particularly aghast at the amount of debt that Americans typically accrue when going to college. It was very interesting to hear their different perspectives while all of us bashed on the American public university system.

  4. Michelle Lai

    The differences between education systems in different countries are astounding, especially the difference between the U.S. and European countries. While we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Finnish pay nothing. After finishing our Gen Ed deliberation, I realized that there are both good parts and bad parts to this. Although it makes education more accessible, it also lowers the value of it in a way because there is no money at stake. This shows in the statistics that you provided, such as how its ranking is sliding down.

  5. If what Finland is reporting is true, then I think it is amazing that their system can work so well. Maybe it’s because I have an American view, but I feel that having an entire education system that is funded by the government would lead to decreased quality. Based on what you have said, this doesn’t seem to be the case, though. Therefore, it makes me wonder why more countries are not adopting this system of education. I know the process would be difficult and expensive, but Finland shows that it is worth it given the high quality of education that students receive. I feel that Americans often think that the “American way” is the only way and that all other ways are wrong. As a result, there will definitely be opposition to anybody who tries to promote this system, but I think it is worth a look. It may or may not be better than what we have now.

  6. Finland’s education system almost seems too good to be true. Free quality higher education for everyone, I would say, is definitely more of a dream than a reality. The fact that all schools provide high quality teachers is a great way to ensure that all students receive a great education, something that I would say not all students have access to in the United States. Here there are definitely differences between schools with highly competent teachers and schools that will hire anyone who wants to work there. I think that we could take a few lessons on education from Finland.

  7. It’s interesting how many of the arguments you make here directly relate to what we were talking about within the scope of our arguments about higher education, specifically the ability to specialize by age 16. The point that the Ministry of Education makes really sticks with me because I know that we’ve all had that teacher one time or another who can get complacent after years of teaching, or just those who shouldn’t teach at all, and having highly competent teachers would be an advantage. I would just be interested in seeing the amount of training that these schools put their teachers through to get the job, the average salary of the teacher, as well as exactly what kind of standards the ministry puts on these teachers.

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