Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We Used To "Finnish" FIrst!

Yep. We used to be on top of the world thanks to the likes of the little guy standing therel like he owned it. But then something happened. We got lazy and greedy and let our integrity slide. We even elected a man President who'd rather have us as a member of the pack than leading it. He even went so far as to travel the world apologizing for every wrong, perceived or otherwise, for which we'd ever been blamed.

It seems he got his wish. We aren't the country we once were. We keep out the educated, many who have studied here, yet won't expel those who come to take rather than give. Rather than disciplining our penchant for spending sprees we print more money or borrow it from dubious allies.

I saw a commercial the other evening. I don't know what it was advertising but it was flashes of young men and women, probably students, from various countries touting their areas of expertise. What caught my attention was the one who claimed first in math and science. Finland.

Well, it's long been known we no longer hold that crown, if we ever did. What I didn't know is that it wasn't China or Japan. Finland. Are Finnish youngsters so very different than our own? Nope. But their education system is.
High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don't start school until age 7.
How's that for starters? They also do not have with them in their classrooms iPods or cell phones. Imagine.

They do, however, love shopping, Desperate Housewives and just like our kids, wear outlandish, to us, clothes, dye their hair and may even wear dreadlocks.

This puzzlement of achievement doesn't stop with education. It has carried over to how the entire country functions based on a number of criteria put together by Newsweek.

In this study Finland finished number one. Number ONE! We didn't even make the top ten! We came in eleventh. So who was ahead of us? The usual suspects plus a few surprises. Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Luxembourg, Norway, Canada, Netherlands, Japan and Denmark.

Maybe it's because so many of those countries have long dark winters and the kids have little else to do but study. I don't think so. After all we have Alaska. Interesting. Eight of the top ten are such countries. They all rank above us in matters that count. Education, quality of life, health care, political climate and climate for business to name a few. What do we have with Alaska? An oil field we won't tap and Sarah Palin. Is there a lesson here that we should be learning?

1 comment:

Margie's Musings said...

Maybe a socialist country that gives everyone free education has something to share with us.