Writing in the Guardian, Scandi-education guru Pasi Sahlberg says UK policymakers need to be careful of myths about foreign education systems and expresses concern over arguments in favour of market-based education policies…
…This evidence from across OECD countries indicates that market-based education policies are not the best way to improve a country’s educational performance. Similar conclusions are drawn in research on some states in the US, Chile and Sweden, where market solutions have been experimented with in school reforms.
Why, then, are market-based education policies so persistent in today’s education world? One reason is that, with the expanding pool of data and studies funded by various interest groups, it is easy to cherry-pick evidence that supports any chosen policy direction. By selecting information carefully, any education analyst can claim his or her findings as “evidence-based” and justify favourable ideas.
One thing is true. No country should aim to replicate the educational models of others. Finland is no exception. What governments need to get right is the big picture for the educational landscape of their nation. The road to a better education for all our children is not to return to the past but to build schools where curiosity, engagement and talent can be discovered and nurtured. That calls for integrating research-informed international lessons into local needs and capacities…
I think what Pasi Sahlberg is actually saying is Britain should be weary of people who are wary of Finland’s education system but (in his opinion) for the wrong reasons. Have I got that right?
I do find it mildly amusing that we have repeated calls for evidence-based approaches in education, only then to start questioning the value of the evidence used. Ultimately, doesn’t this mean it all ends up being subjective because we chose which ‘evidence’ to pay attention to?
What of the bigger issue at stake here… is there merit in examining systems in other countries and, if they appear to be doing well, how do we know if we could adopt or adapt aspects to work locally?
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