"We need to care about what has happened in a lot of places that have turned their education systems around in the last 30 or 40 years.."
In just 30 years, Finland transformed its school system from one that was mediocre and inequitable, to one that consistently produces some of the world's best students, while virtually eliminating an achievement gap. And they do it without standardized testing.
Linda-Darling Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, where she launched the School Redesign Network, the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute, and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Her work focuses on school restructuring, teacher education, and educational equity. She was education advisor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign and was reportedly among candidates for Secretary of Education in the Obama administration (Wikipedia).
In her book "The Flat World and Education", she looks at the roots of the American modern education system and how the skills required for the 21st century global economy can not be learned in traditional education systems, which have been in place since the early 1900s when the majority of students were expected to become factory workers. She identifies an “opportunity gap” that has evolved as new kinds of learning have become necessary - a gap where low-income students, students of color, and English language learners often do not have the same access as others to qualified teachers, high-quality curriculum, and well-resourced classrooms.
She then offers a coherent approach for effective reform, focusing on creating successful systems, inducting and supporting quality teachers, designing effective schools, establishing strong professional practice, and providing equitable and sufficient resources.
The following interview is excerpted from Dan Rather Reports' show on Finland's education system, Finnish First.
Please take the time to watch.