Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

High-performing Finnish children

Posted by alifinmath on March 3, 2008

I’m sure many people have already seen this WSJ article on Finnish children. I just wanted to comment on one short passage:

Despite the apparent simplicity of Finnish education, it would be tough to replicate in the U.S. With a largely homogeneous population, teachers have few students who don’t speak Finnish. In the U.S., about 8% of students are learning English, according to the Education Department. There are fewer disparities in education and income levels among Finns.

Since I don’t have to be politically correct, I can speak my mind. The Finns are a largely homogeneous Nordic population: that’s the secret. As Richard Lynn points out somewhere, the human cranium increases roughly 2cc in volume for each latitude north of the equator (as I seem to recall).

I was a teacher in the American public school system for a year. An “inner city school” with its “challenges.” What a nightmare. I spent most of my time trying to control my classes. Trying to control “ethnically diverse” classes is an exercise in futility. Corporal punishment isn’t allowed (though I really think something stronger — like cattle prods — would come in handy).

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One Response to “High-performing Finnish children”

  1. Ariel said

    I agree that Finland is a very homogeneous country with presumably few social problems, at least in comparison with the US. With few discipline problems and highly literate parents, it is only logical that Finnish students are high achievers. I suspect too that Finnish teachers are better educated than their American public school counterparts (teachers’ colleges in the US have notoriously low standards; by contrast good private schools in the US tend to rely on graduates of better colleges). It would be interesting to do a study of education in a country like France where there is a large foreign student enrollment.

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