Almost all education research takes place in the US — but Finland is using it better
But it's not that Finland knows more about how to build effective schools than the US does.
Almost all education research takes place in the US, and American schools can't seem to learn from any of it — and yet Finnish people do.
"My estimate is that about 80% of all significant intellectual work regarding education is done here, in the United States," says Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish education expert and the author of "Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn About Educational Change in Finland?".
According to Sahlberg, the most influential figure behind Finland's achievements in education is the American philosopher John Dewey, who is known for his seminal theories on education and psychology. "Many Finnish schools have adopted Dewey's view of education for democracy by enhancing students' access to decision-making regarding their own lives and studying in school," Sahlberg wrote for the Washington Post in 2014.
Sahlberg studied Dewey when he was a graduate student in Finland in the 1980s, and many universities continue to rely on Dewey's writing and the work of other American academics today.
Over time, the ideas have helped shape the Finnish education system as one that prizes autonomy, peer learning, collaboration, and varied forms of assessment. These were all ideas developed at one time or another by American theorists, yet modern American classrooms — noted for their heavy reliance on tests and teacher-guided lectures — bear little resemblance to those up north.
Consider the Finnish program known as Me & MyCity, a set of projects designed to get kids thinking like entrepreneurs. Through role-playing they learn financial literacy and gain an understanding of how public and private funding works.
More than 70% of Finnish 6th-graders participate in Me & MyCity, often to great success.Research presented at the Association of European Economics Education conference in August showed kids "clearly" gained economic knowledge from the program, while 75% said they had a greater interest in economics, reports Tim Walker for the Atlantic.
Me & MyCity took its early cues from BizTown, an American program started by the organization Junior Achievement, that had a similar mission of making kids financially savvy. While BizTown has seen similar improvements, no state has made it a curriculum requirement for schools to teach the program.
Sahlberg says America's inability to make that leap — from pilot programs to widespread Finland schools use American education research, but American doesn't - Business Insider: