Over the last couple of months we have explored the virtues and vices ranging across various educational systems, from Shanghai to Singapore, we have raked through the never-ending range of educational considerations, from integrated learning techniques to students memory. We have considered how extra-curricular actives bring a depth, confidence and a value all of their own. Indeed, we have looked at what might be the ideal learning space of the future, and not to mention the space-age kit that will inevitably inspire our students to the greatest of heights. However, I can’t help but think we have been overlooking one, particularly vital piece of the academic machinery. In fact, we are not alone!

In the on-going debate about how to raise educational standards, the role of teachers is paramount. It is now, more or less, commonly accepted that attracting high quality and well-qualified people into the profession, is the essential prerequisite to growing educational standards. In Finland, for example, (commonly recognised as the most successful system globally) teachers are sourced from the most-qualified graduates.

Education, cornerstone of a knowledge-based society

With education being the cornerstone of a knowledge-based society. The OECD is warning of a teacher shortage spanning the globe, a profession on the brink of chaos, under the strain of low salaries, an ageing workforce and demand for ever more complex teaching abilities.

In Finland, teachers are highly regarded. In Finland a teaching career is esteemed. In Finland, yes the profession is a demanding one, and reserved for the most talented and hard-working, exemplified by the fact that only one fifth of all applicants to primary teacher education programmes in Finnish universities are admitted. Entrance to the club, depends not only on high academic achievements, but on interest and appetite, passion and fervour. This is very different to what happens in most middle and high-income nations, where getting admitted to the profession is often quite easy, and in truth, due to decimated teaching numbers globally, sometimes even guaranteed. The fact is, that in many nations, a recent graduate can be thrown into a classroom without much, or any, real classroom experience. Such desperate actions will inevitably only hurt the profession.

Increasing standards and investing in the system

The Finns are one example of a nation that are facing this this issue with an interesting, intelligent model. They invest heavily in teacher education, and since the teaching profession requires a Master’s degree in Education, you can become a qualified teacher in Finland and be ready to oversee a classroom, only after several years of study and numerous hours of classroom hands-on practice. This brings an increased quality throughout the system, which attracts a more diverse group of people, which in turn elevates the appreciation and respect that the strained profession needs to stabilise and rise.

Finland’s upwelling through the education ranks is achieved through a combination of factors, ranging from increasing standards and investing in the system, making sure the profession receives the recognition and status that it should, and a willingness to try something new. Something brave.

Thanks for reading. For an interesting article from the Smithsonian on the successes of the system in Finland please follow the link ➡ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/

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