The first thing to say about Pai Sahlberg is that you should read his superb book “Finnish Lessons.” It is the living evidence that we in the U.S. have lost our way. After reading that book, I had the chance to visit Finland for a few days, and the luck to have Pasi as my guide. Imagine a country whose schools have no standardized testing, where teachers are trusted and well prepared, where schools are architecturally impressive, where the emphasis is on the well-bring of children, not test scores; where creativity and the arts are encouraged; where all education, including graduate school, is tuition-free.

I will assume you have read that book. Now you should read Pasi’s short book of advice for education leaders, which elaborates on four ideas. They seem simple, even obvious, but they are not.

Here is Pasi presenting in a small session at Teachers College, Columbia University, just a week or two ago.

The first big idea is that all children should have ample time for unstructured play. In Finland, every hour includes 15 minutes of recess. This not only gives children a break, it gives teachers a break.

The second big idea is that small data, the information gathered by teacher observations, has more value than Big Data, the collection and analysis of large quantities of information that often invades privacy and typically provides correlations, not causation.

The third big idea is the importance of equitable funding, sending money where it is needed most.

The fourth big idea is to beware of urban legends about Finland. Finland, for example, does not recruit the best and the brightest into teaching. It selects those with the strongest commitment to the life of a teacher. There is no Teach for Finland.

It is a short book. Only about 90 pages. It is refreshing. It will remind you about what matters most. Clears away the foggy thinking that is now common among our political leaders.