education - listening to Finland and South Korea

Yaeum Middle School (photo by Stephen Hucker)

Yesterday (2/7/13) on On Point radio with Tom Ashbrook, Finland and South Korea top the charts in a new global education ranking. But with very different philosophies. The radio show looked at what the US – ranked number 17 – can learn.... This has to be one of my favorite shows that I have heard, from testing to spending time outdoors to computers... it's very interesting.

Pasi Sahlberg, of Finland suggests that there are two areas where he feels that school is important in Finland. From the beginning, health and well being is the most important and less in academics. Secondly, teachers are paid more and MUST have a higher education (masters or above). Teaching is highly sought-after career in Finland, akin to the Medical or Lawyer trades here. There are similar standards in South Korea, 1 in 50 people who want to be teachers actually get to be teachers in Seoul.

It's hard to compare, since our country is SO big compared to both of these countries. But the ideas are there and even for the most involved parent, some of them are new and interesting. From very little high-tech in Finland to Seoul where each child has his/her own computer, the success in Finland is helped by technology but not at the heart of their system.

I liked this story because it focused on ideas and not on more computers or more testing... thank you NPR again for helping us to better understand our educational system. Don't miss the final comments of Pasi Sahlberg... children need time to play and that's important!

The guests were:
Pasi Sahlberg, director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland. Author of “Finnish Lessons: What Can The World Learn From Educational Change in Finland?

Okhwa Lee, professor of computer education at Chungbuk National University in South Korea. She participated in the South Korean presidential committee, “Educational Innovation: Vision 2030.”

Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, which studies what the U.S. can learn from international models.

listen to the story online