Pasi Sahlberg is a noted Finnish educator whose book Finnish Lessons awakened Americans to the realization that good schools can flourish without standardized testing. He has focused in his work on the importance of creativity and play for children and the dangers of standardization and the free market.

In this essay, he compares the different experiences of students in Australia (where he currently lives) and in Finland (his native land) and tries to figure out what educators have learned because of the pandemic. One glaring fact is inequality. Will there be a will to address that basic and damaging fact of life after the pandemic?

He draws the following lessons:

  1. Address inequalities early. Preventive health care and high-quality early childhood education can go a long way in avoiding gaps early.
  2. Trust teachers as professionals. They know what their students need.
  3. Build self-directedness among students, teachers, and schools. Too many comply with mandates and are lost when it is time to be thoughtful and make decisions on your own.

Sahlberg is resolute that an excellent and equitable education go hand-in-hand.