Perhaps you are sick and tired of hearing about the wonderful schools of Finland. Well, I am not. They demonstrate that it is possible to do the right things for children and succeed by every metric. It is important to have a demonstration in real-life of an entire nation that gets it right; not just one school, that picks its students, but an entire nation. No high-stakes testing. No charters. No vouchers. No Teach for Finland. Every public school is a good school, regardless of its neighborhood (or, as we would say, its zip code [I don’t know if Finland has zip codes.]) I have visited Finland. I have toured Finnish schools. I have seen students of every age taking a recess break after every class. I have seen students displaying their artistic accomplishments. As long as there is Finland, we can all hope for a better future for American education. As Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg often says and writes, “we got many of our best ideas from the U.S.”

William Doyle, author and film-maker, is a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Eastern Finland, where he lectures on education and the media. This column appeared originally in USA Today.

He notes that Finland is experiencing social and economic problems. It has also seen slippage in its educational results on international tests. But it is doubling down on what proved successful instead of following the U.S.’s abysmal test-and-punish “reforms.”

He writes:

Social and economic pressures are increasing sharply. Inequity is growing among schools. Severe budget cuts are hitting vocational and higher education. High-performing students often don’t feel challenged, and Finnish children face problems common to many the world over — bullying, big drop-offs in math and reading skills, digital overload, and feeling bored or disengaged from school. The performance of Finland’s 15-year-olds in international tests has fallen in recent years.

The United States for more than a decade has responded to its own education challenges with a bizarre, bipartisan and ineffectual mix of mass standardized testing, de-professionalization of teachers, dismal quality “cybercharter schools,” the elimination of arts and recess for children, and the botched, now politically toxic Common Core attempt at national curriculum guidelines.

Finland is taking largely the opposite approach. It is doubling down on many of the things that made its schools great in the first place.

Finland has adopted a new curriculum, but it is nothing like our Common Core, which makes everything “harder,” even in kindergarten and first grade.

Finland’s brand new National Core Curriculum emphasizes a child’s individuality and says “children have the right to learn by playing and experience joy related to learning.” It says they should be encouraged to express their opinions, trust themselves, be open to new solutions, learn to handle unclear and conflicting information, consider things from different viewpoints, seek new information and review the way they think. Teachers are directed to give students daily feedback and measure them against their starting points, not other students. In grades one through seven, schools now have the option of dropping numerical grades in favor of verbal assessments. (Failing students will still receive a “fail” grade, and can be held back as a last resort.)

The new guidelines strengthen traditional roles of play and physical activity. Preschool and kindergarten students will continue to learn through songs, games, conversation and playful discovery, not military-style drilling and stress at ages 4, 5 or 6 as is increasingly the case in American schools. A number of studies have supported the advantages of play-based early education for children, including those from low-income backgrounds. Formal academic training in Finland will continue to start at age 7, when many children are best ready for it. That corresponds with research indicating that any advantage gained by earlier instruction, when children are not developmentally ready, washes out a few years later.

In addition:

Finland is also continuing other policies that work: Primary school teachers will still have to earn master’s degrees and undergo at least two years of in-classroom training by master teacher-trainers before being allowed to lead classes of their own. Grades one through nine will offer instruction not only in math, science and history, but also in two or three languages, physical education, music, visual arts, crafts and religion or ethics. And home economics, a rare subject in American schools, will be taught in grades seven, eight and nine.

No high-stakes testing. No vouchers. No charters. No Teach for Finland temps in the classroom.