The World Economic Forum is based in Davos, Switzerland. Ten years ago, I had the pleasure of attending. The forum was filled with heads of state and potentates, politicians, business magnates, even Brad and Angelina and Bono. WEF ranks states according to progress on whatever measures it chooses. It just decided that the schools of Finland are the best in the world.

This just-released World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017 names Finland’s primary schools, health and national institutions as #1 globally (p. 46):

https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-competitiveness-report-2016-2017-1/

What’s their education secret? According to Fulbright Scholar and part-time Finland resident, university lecturer and public school dad William Doyle, it’s not just Finland’s culture, or its size and demographics, which are similar to some two thirds of American states. Says Doyle, “Finland has the most professionalized, the most evidence-based, and the most child-centered primary school system in the world.” Those three foundations, says Doyle, can inspire and be adapted by any school system in the world. He adds, “Until the United States decides to respect and train its teachers like Finland does (a highly selective masters degree program specializing in research and classroom practice, with two years of in-class training and maximum autonomy once they graduate), we have little hope of improving our schools.”

Please note that Finland has no charters, no vouchers, no Teach for Finland, and very low levels of child poverty. Grades K-9 are free of standardized testing. Children have recess after every class. Academic studies do not begin until age 7. Before then, play is the curriculum.

Finnish scholar Pasi Sahlberg often says that Finland got its best ideas by borrowing from the United States.

Pasi Sahlberg will speak at Wellesley College on October 13 at 7 pm in Alumnae Hall. His topic: “The Inconvenient Truth about American Education.” Pasi taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a guest scholar for the past two years. He is the author of the award-winning “Finnish Lessons.” The lecture is second in a series I endowed called the Diane Silvers Ravitch 1960 Lecture. Pasi will be introduced by Howard Gardner. Come one, come all.

If you are not in the area, the event will be videotaped and later made available.