"If You Want the American Dream, Go To Finland"

Complaining about the country's education system is a favorite pastime of many American parents, but why don't - or can't - we change the way we educate our children?

Author Amanda Ripley decided to investigate by enlisting "field agents" of American students who studied abroad at Finnish, South Korean, and Polish schools.

Here's what she found out:

“If you want the American dream, go to Finland.” These blunt words from a British politician, quoted by Amanda Ripley in “The Smartest Kids in the World” [...]

[American student named Kim, who went to a typical Finnish school] soon notices something else that’s different about her school in Pietarsaari, and one day she works up the courage to ask her classmates about it. “Why do you guys care so much?” Kim inquires of two Finnish girls. “I mean, what makes you work hard in school?” The students look baffled by her question. “It’s school,” one of them says. “How else will I graduate and go to university and get a good job?”

It’s the only sensible answer, of course, but its irrefutable logic still eludes many American students, a quarter of whom fail to graduate from high school. Ripley explains why: Historically, Americans “hadn’t needed a very rigorous education, and they hadn’t gotten it. Wealth had made rigor optional.” But now, she points out, “everything had changed. In an automated, global economy, kids needed to be driven; they need to know how to adapt, since they would be doing it all their lives. They needed a culture of rigor.”

Read more over at the New York Times: Link | Ripley's book: The Smartest Kids in the World

See more about baby and kids at NeatoBambino

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There is two ways: for higher academic degrees it's of course university. For higher degrees in "blue collar" job titles it's combined seamlessly with work. You can get any degree on your field while working and it's subsidiced so that government will pay part of your salary when you have to be away from work (about 1-2 months per year). Employers are very eager to participate as they get better educated, motivated old known workers for pennies..

I'm doing a similar degree right now, i have very few courses since i managed to work in various jobs in av industry before. I got VERY tailored curriculum to fit my needs and every single one gets the same treatment. Basically i need to prove that i'm able to do things in a professional manner. I will be "judged" in work or work simulated situations by three professionals with an academic degree in my field (and two teachers with masters deg that haven't seen me before, schools still get money from graduates so that eliminates that part of equation....). Curriculum is tailored to suit the few areas that need more concentration. There's no grades there, it's simply i do know what i'm doing or i don't. It's pretty complex "exam" that can take a day or two, where i need to show that i know well beyond the minimum requirements (that's very important!) and can fluently solve problems in professional manner and work according to industry standards and regulations. Because "the biz" is hard to teach but pretty easy to learn thru work, it's a special field so we got a little bit different rules also.

But my school is not the most typical as it's heavily tailored to fit the needs of both pupils and the local industry. The latter usually requests certain areas that they need workers for and the school then provides them with fresh batch every year. It works like a private school in that sense; company pays for the school to arrange courses in the exact areas they need. In the academic field it's more conventional but the same tailored curriculum exist there too. And the same "final exam" system, i don't actually need to listen to a single lecture.. People do thou, they are very aware of the subjects they need to learn and why. That explains the motivation. You still have to graduate in timely manner, there is a time limit after all (you can study forever on your own expense, but government stops paying you after certain years have passed... Schools are still free, forever.)

So most workers that want to have a career, are constantly on school part time getting higher and higher degrees ;) My dad got his degrees while in the last ten years before he retired, mostly because he could: my generation is the first to enjoy this new system and it was phased step by step to it's current state during my school years.

It's really really common for someone to work ten years, spend two or three years in school and repeat that cycle to the death. The level of commitment on those adult schools from both teachers and pupils is really really high and the percentage that get a job from that route is staggering: in my field we are expecting 80% employment before the school ends.. And that's heavily overstudied field; "showbiz" is of course interesting to many, about 10% from the youngsters are working after 5 years.. Usually they switch to something else.

Wow, sorry for long post...
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