Bursting the bubble on the miracle of the Finnish education system
There are reasons a number of reasons the Finnish education system is often the top performing education system on the planet on the international tests. We often hear that they treat their teachers like professionals, well paid, respected, and with high standards for even getting into a teacher training program, but there are two additional differences that go unmentioned.
1. Their children start first grade two years older than we do in the U.S. Their children are simply more mature when they start school.
2. Their language gives them a great advantage. Specifically, they have a 26 letter alphabet, just like us, but they only have 26 phonics rules. Each letter has one and only one sound anywhere in their language. American English has nearly 1,000 phonics rules. They can teach their children to read at a 90% accuracy level in about half a year. It takes us two and a half years to reach the same level of accuracy.
The data is in this article from the Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge, entitled
Synthetic Phonics and Learning to Read: A Cross-language Perspective, by Usha Goswami.
The article can also be found below and at: Educational Psychology in Practice,Vol. 21, No. 4, December 2005, pp. 273–282
Pushing intense academic training down into the pre-K ages is damaging.
Research Reveals Long Term Harm of State Pre-K Program
In this first-ever controlled study of public pre-K, the control group did best.
In this post in Psychology Today, Peter Gray, Ph.D. describes research that reveals the consequences of pushing literacy learning objective down into the pre-K age group. The short digest of the studies is that pre-K children who get intense academic training perform better in the first grade, but they display increased incidence of learning disorders by the fourth and sixth grade.