Individuals in Education

In the Efficiency Index of 2014, the United States ranked 19th out of 30 countries based on education efficiency. (Molnar)This index focuses on the amount of quality learning students receive in a school year. Being ranked at the lower end of the scale clearly shows that the USneeds to improve the way our education system runs.The world cannot change overnight, but we need some place to start.Everything begins with education.

Schools in the United States should provide more individualized options for students at a younger age because evidence shows that it works to provide a higher quality education. The United States should look to Finland as a model. Ranked number one in education efficiency for the past fifteen years, Finland has drawn a lot of attention with its education system.Among other things, their curriculum has more leeway for individual choice. Teachers have a “whatever it takes attitude” when it comes to helping students face educational challenges. (Hancock)Employing this kind of attitude prevents “student-shaming” for not understanding the topic immediately.

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If a student doesn’t comprehend the lesson, teachers try a new tactic to explain the idea until the problem is solved.An approach like this would entirely change the way that Americans learn.It would, of course, make each student’s learning experience independent, but what is the harm in that? It is about time that students LEARN in school. There is a big difference between cramming, memorizing, and regurgitating versus actually learning.With individualized education as the basis of Finland’s education system they reign Supreme with PISA scores through the roof.They haven’t always been this successful, though. In the 1970s they went through educational reforms by putting their “two-track system” behind them and integrating a new system called “peruskoulu.”When this “nine-year compulsory system” was put into place things continued to improve. (Morgan)Generally, students “receive the same content the first six years, but are free to choose a few subjects during their last three years.” (Sarjala)This allows students to take the time to really explore their interests and prepare themselves for the world ahead of them.

Putting their students first, offering more individual opportunities from an earlier age, and taking each student case-by-caseare all things that Finland does to keep their education system excellent. What does the United States do? Now the question remains, is this method completely effective? The main argument against this would question the credibility of the PISA exams themselves. The Program for International Student Assessment exams base themselves on “applying math to solve ‘real world’ problems,” as described by Mr. Loveless, a senior associated with the Brookings Institution. The TIMSS, on the other hand, focus on the how well students have learned the class curriculum. On these exams, Finland scores averaged at 514 and the US at 509.

Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Indiana were used as “benchmark states.” In this study, Massachusetts scored an average of 561, 5th place out of the average of 500 nations that participate in the study. This begs the question of what the goal of education really should be. Is the purpose to have students read and repeat or to think for themselves in real time situations? Which would better prepare them for the real world they will soon have to face? Focusing on numbers and rankings, Finland appears well ahead of the United States when it comes to educating the youth. The main reason for that is their ability to provide individualized education for each and every student. The United States still has time to change their educational approach.

Finland did it and so can we.Students are all different, but should still all be treated as equals. With the right attitude the education system can take future generations to incredible new heights of learning. But change should start now. The United States should begin education reforms to provide a more individualized education system using Finland as a model. Works Cited Hancock, LynNell.

“Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?” Smithsonian. N.p., Sept. 2011. Web.

15 Nov. 2015. Manzo, Kathleen Kennedy, and Sean Cavanagh. “Trends in the European Union: Education Seen Driving Prosperity.” Education Week 23 Apr. 2008: 18.

Web. 4 Apr. 2016. Molnar, Michele. “Education Efficiency Found to Lag in United States.” Education Week 10 Sept.

2014: 4. Student Resources in Context. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. Morgan, Hani.

“The education system in Finland: a success story other countries can emulate.”Childhood Education 90.6 (2014): 453+. Student Resources in Context. Web. 15 Nov.

2015. Robelen, Erik W. “On Global Exams, U.S. Comes Closer to Finland.” Education Week 9 Jan.

2013: 8. Web. 4 Apr. 2016. Sarjala, J. (2013).

Equality and cooperation: Finland’s path to excellence. American Educator, 37(1), 32-36.