We could learn a lot from Finnish schools

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Finally, according to Scholastic Administrator, Finnish teachers are trusted to develop their own final exams each year to measure students’ success. The only time children take a standardized test is when they finish high school –– so they can be measured against international standards, which, as noted, they rock.

Oddly, the Finnish educational system sounds much like the American system of the 1950s and ’60s, when middle-class families had greater purchasing power than today and the U.S. education system was counted among the best in the world. Back then, American schools, many of which were built shortly after World War II, were shiny and new. The federal government, worried about Soviet expansionism, poured money into science, math and foreign language studies. There were few standardized tests. And the public revered teachers.

The Finnish educational system was nothing special in those days. Roughly 40 years ago, the country, recognizing that it was small and relatively powerless against the nearby Soviet Union, decided it had to put whatever resources it had into its last hope –– education.

Perhaps the time has come to rethink our standardized approach to school and head back to where we came from.

Scott Brinton is senior editor of the Bellmore and Merrick Heralds and an adjunct professor at the Hofstra University Graduate Journalism Program. Comments? SBrinton@liherald.com or (516) 569-4000 ext. 203. Brinton’s profile and posts can be found at facebook.com/scottabrinton.

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