Monday, January 30, 2012

School Reform in the Kingdom of Happiness

Bob Compton on the lessons from Finland:


China and India educate for commercial advantage, and each country has more than 200 million school children. Our 55 million kids will face extraordinary competition. But we can't just teach the way they do. Our culture and our kids won't allow it. Nor is the Asian way the best for our children. Preparing our kids to be the world's innovation leaders, and reviving our middle class, requires a uniquely Western approach.


Another country, similar in size to Indiana, has found a way to elevate its students to first in the world in problem solving, scientific literacy and math—Finland. What works in its schools is the muse of open-ended projects where kids learn by doing. Testing is included, but in moderation.


But the Finnish model only works if you have amazing teachers. And amazing teachers only come through a recruitment and training process that is highly selective and rigorous.


In Finland, just 10 percent of applicants are accepted into one of only eight colleges of education. By contrast, Indiana has 45 colleges offering teaching degrees and enrolling is easy. Where Indiana has thousands of teachers leaving each year, Finland has less than 1-percent attrition. Carefully selected and trained, great teachers stay in the profession.


School Reform in the Kingdom of Happiness


By Bob Compton

Indiana Business Journal


Much as the explorers in "Lost Horizon" stumbled into Shangri-La in the Himalayas, I found myself in the small Kingdom of Bhutan last October. As this tiny place moves into the 21st century, it has committed itself to be a society centered on the pursuit of happiness.

 Subscribe in a reader