Education and the Welfare State
Gamerman, Ellen. 2008. “What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?” Wall Street Journal (29 February): p. W 1.
The article seems to suggest a type of learning suggestive of the ideology of Mao’s China, where the best had the responsibility of helping the others.
“15-year-old Fanny Salo at Norssi gives a glimpse of the no-frills curriculum. Fanny is a bubbly ninth-grader who loves “Gossip Girl” books, the TV show “Desperate Housewives” and digging through the clothing racks at H&M stores with her friends. Fanny earns straight A’s, and with no gifted classes she sometimes doodles in her journal while waiting for others to catch up. She often helps lagging classmates. “It’s fun to have time to relax a little in the middle of class,” Fanny says. Finnish educators believe they get better overall results by concentrating on weaker students rather than by pushing gifted students ahead of everyone else. The idea is that bright students can help average ones without harming their own progress.”
The article also suggests the value of a welfare state without a heavy hand, unlike the US where we get the heavy hand without the welfare — at least in education.
The article also mentions the obvious fact that there are fewer disparities in education and income levels among Finns. Also
“Each school year, the U.S. spends an average of $8,700 per student, while the Finns spend $7,500. Finland’s high-tax government provides roughly equal per-pupil funding, unlike the disparities between Beverly Hills public schools, for example, and schools in poorer districts. The gap between Finland’s best- and worst-performing schools was the smallest of any country in the PISA testing. The U.S. ranks about average.”