How did Finland manage to elevate the role of teacher in the eyes of the population to something that is not just an honorable profession, but a revered profession, whereas in the United States, teachers are so regularly denigrated?
They really think about teachers as scientists and the classrooms are their laboratories. So, as I mentioned — every teacher has to have a masters degree, and it’s a content degree where they’re not just taking silly courses on education theory and history. They’re taking content courses that enable them to bring a higher level of intellectual preparation into the classroom. That’s the first point.
The second point is that they’ve defined professionalism as working more collaboratively. They give their teachers time in the school day and in the school week to work with each other, to continuously improve their curriculum and their lessons. We have a 19th century level of professionalism here, or worse, it’s medieval. A teacher works alone all day, everyday, and isolation is the enemy of improvement and innovation, which is something the Finns figured out a long time ago. Get the teachers out of their isolated circumstances and give them time to work together.
If you were a kid in the 80s, you’re definitely familiar with Garbage Pail Kids. I think I collected every single annual series for about 8 years and then started to just get them periodically after that. They were gorgeous, disgusting and hilarious and I’m damn proud to have been the exact target demographic when they debuted in 1985. If you don’t remember Garbage Pail Kids, I feel sorry for you.