From “Schools We Can Envy” in the New York Review of Books:
Faced with the relentless campaign against teachers and public education, educators have sought a different narrative, one free of the stigmatization by test scores and punishment favored by the corporate reformers. They have found it in Finland. [...]
Finland has spent the past forty years developing a different education system, one that is focused on improving the teaching force, limiting student testing to a necessary minimum, placing responsibility and trust before accountability, and handing over school- and district-level leadership to education professionals.
To an American observer, the most remarkable fact about Finnish education is that students do not take any standardized tests until the end of high school. They do take tests, but the tests are drawn up by their own teachers, not by a multinational testing corporation. The Finnish nine-year comprehensive school is a “standardized testing-free zone,” where children are encouraged to know, to create, and to sustain natural curiosity.”
The entire article is certainly worth a read, but I was particularly struck by the emphasis on “the development of each child as a thinking, active, creative person” — all qualities that are not only outside the realm of standardized test-taking, but that are arguably more essential to long-term development than the material on a standardized test. So what do you think? Do the words that we use to discuss public education reform themselves need reforming?