A Conversation with Education Grawemeyer Award Winner Pasi Sahlberg

In Finland, children don’t have to begin school until age 7.

High school is optional and the public education system–which is free and includes higher education– includes wrap around services like free healthcare and access to healthy meals.

This is the Finnish way. 

Pasi Sahlberg, winner of the 2013 Grawmeyer Award in education, explains the history and results of reforms put in place in 1970s. In his book Finnish Lessons: What Cant the Worls Learn From Education Change in Finland,  Sahlberg discusses the prestige of being a teacher in Finland–saying teachers are on the same level as doctors or attorneys. 

Further he says standardized tests are not prioritized to assess students. Instead, the system trusts teachers to assess each student on personal growth.

Sahlberg says the Finnish way won’t look like the American because there are other issues outside public education that effect what happens in schools. But he does acknowledge  three things the U.S. lacks that Finland has, which are key to achieving equity:

  • Funding of schools: Finnish schools are funded based on a formula guaranteeing equal allocation of resources to each school regardless of location or wealth of its community.
  • Well-being of children: All children in Finland have, by law, access to childcare, comprehensive health care, and pre-school in their own communities. Every school must have a welfare team to advance child happiness in school.
  • Education as a human right: All education from preschool to university is free of charge for anybody living in Finland. This makes higher education affordable and accessible for all.

(from pasisahlberg.com)

As part of The Next Louisville education project, WFPL hosted a discussion with Dr. Sahlberg at the Green Building Tuesday night. Please listen or share the conversation below.

The Next Louisville project is a partnership of WFPL News, the Community Foundation of Louisville, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and The Gheens Foundation, Inc

Devin Katayama

Devin Katayama host middays for WFPL and reports on education and other Louisville issues.

@DevinWFPL

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