Education in Finland: smart, continuos development (a bit like agile software development)

New stories praising Finnish educational system are popping up almost weekly. Now CNN reports with focus on education in USA and how things are different in Finland.

I agree with most of the points made in the story: teachers are essential and standardized testing is doing more harm than good. These are also interlinked issues. We need highly educated teachers, appreciation of the profession, empower teachers, have decision making in classroom and school level etc. When these are in place we may focus on education, instead of training children to tests.

I think, however, that these stories are missing one important thing: smart, continuos development of the system. I consider this to be relatively well in place in the primary and secondary education in Finland. It’s not great but it’s not bad either. Most likely, it is better than in most systems. The in-build development of the system, I think, is behind good educational results in primary and secondary education. At least in Finland.

I also have a working theory. Because of lacking for a long time the spirit of smart and continuos development in higher education in Finland we are actually not doing very well in it. For a couple of years now things has changes in it too and I strongly believe that we are getting better. It just requires smart continues development.

So what is smart continuos development? It is a bit like agile software development.

Agile Manifesto states the values, as follows:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

These principles, with minor modification. should be used in educational system development, too (and I am claiming we do it a bit in Finland) + it should be continuos. Here is my (agile( values for educational system development:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working class room / school / school district over comprehensive documentation
  • Stakeholder (administration, schools, teachers, researchers, parents etc.) collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Finally. There’s always room to be better.

We probably will discuss about this topics, too in a panel discussion taking place tomorrow, on Thursday October 13, 2011 in the Mobility Shifts – An International Future of Learning Summit in New York.

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