Chapter 10img Wa: Harmony

Less time in class, more time in recess; very little homework; parts of the school day devoted to activities like making breakfast: Finland's schools look nothing like the best schools in America. And yet the tiny Scandinavian country has become famous around the world for the consistently excellent performance of its students on an international test called the PISA Survey,1 taken every three years by 15-year-olds from around the world.

The secret of Finland's success has nothing to do with any of the solutions currently in vogue among American educational reformers. They're not intensely prepping their kids for test after standardized test. They're not evaluating teachers based on their students' test performance. They're not—as they do in Japan—forcing kids to memorize useless facts to pass equally useless entrance exams from elementary school to college, which serve only to act as a caste categorization system for Japan's soon-to-be worker bees. Finland's students somehow manage to succeed without hiring private tutors, ...

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