My column this week is about Arkansas Education Commissioner Dr.Tom Kimbrell’s recent trip to Finland, which has one of the world’s best public school systems, and how it compares to Arkansas’, which, well, doesn’t.
Kimbrell’s surprising finding was that Finnish schools aren’t terribly different than Arkansas’. Students are in class 190 days a year, which is comparable to Arkansas’ 178, and learn while sitting at desks in classes led by a teacher.
There are differences. Finnish culture puts a high emphasis on education and accords teachers with great respect. Also, schools in Finland emphasize foreign language attainment. Most interestingly, schools build breaks into the school day where students actually play – unlike in America, where recess has been downsized.