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”Desks in rows and an old-fashioned chalkboard — not an iPad or interactive whiteboard in sight.”

The New York TimesI en artikel i New York den 22 augusti – Likely to suceed – recenseras Amanda Ripleys bok The smartest kids in the world – and how they got that way. Den handlar bland annat om en amerikansk 15-åring, Kim, som provar på att gå i skolan i Jakobstad (Pietarsaari) i Finland. Det blir en lätt chock för henne att komma till en skola där det inte fanns interaktiva hjälpmedel och inte en iPad så långt ögat nådde. Och där två klasskamrater stirrade förvånat på henne när hon undrade varför de studerade och arbetade så hårt i skolan. Svaret var: ”Det är ju skolan! Hur ska vi annars kunna ta examen, gå vidare till universitetet och få bra jobb?”

Nedan citat ur artikeln. De som inte behärskar engelska kan kopiera in texten i Google translate och få en hyfsad, inte bra, översättning den vägen.

The smartest kids in the worldIn reporting her book, Ripley made the canny choice to enlist “field agents” who could penetrate other countries’ schools far more fully than she: three American students, each studying abroad for a year. Kim, a restless 15-year-old from rural Oklahoma, heads off to Finland, a place she had only read about, “a snow-castle country with white nights and strong coffee.” Instead, what she finds is a trudge through the cold dark, to a dingy school with desks in rows and an old-fashioned chalkboard — not an iPad or interactive whiteboard in sight. What Kim’s school in the small town of Pietarsaari does have is bright, talented teachers who are well trained and love their jobs.

This is the first hint of how Finland does it: rather than “trying to reverse engineer a high-performance teaching culture through dazzlingly complex performance evaluations and value-added data analysis,” as we do, they ensure high-quality teaching from the beginning, allowing only top students to enroll in teacher-training programs, which are themselves far more demanding than such programs in America. A virtuous cycle is thus initiated: better-prepared, better-trained teachers can be given more autonomy, leading to more satisfied teachers who are also more likely to stay on.

Kim soon notices something else that’s different about her school in Pietarsaari, and one day she works up the courage to ask her classmates about it. “Why do you guys care so much?” Kim inquires of two Finnish girls. “I mean, what makes you work hard in school?” The students look baffled by her question. “It’s school,” one of them says. “How else will I graduate and go to university and get a good job?” It’s the only sensible answer, of course, but its irrefutable logic still eludes many American students, a quarter of whom fail to graduate from high school. Ripley explains why: Historically, Americans “hadn’t needed a very rigorous education, and they hadn’t gotten it. Wealth had made rigor optional.” But now, she points out, “everything had changed. In an automated, global economy, kids needed to be driven; they need to know how to adapt, since they would be doing it all their lives. They needed a culture of rigor.”

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