I’ll bet that you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Finnish primary education system. But maybe we should.
Finnish kids consistently outscore the rest of the world in science, literacy and math. In studies by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Finland’s 15-year-olds scored #1 in science and #2 in literacy among 57 countries. The World Economic Forum ranks Finland #1 in enrollment and quality and #2 in math and science education.
As we struggle with improving productivity, keeping up with technology, creating excellent value and winning market share, let’s take a look at how the Finns set up their educational organizations, and what lessons we can learn.
Let’s start with this quote about students from George Malaty, a professor of education at the University of Joensuu: “School isn’t only to prepare for the future. It’s their life and they must have a good day every day.”
Polls show that the teaching profession in Finland is very high-status, and one of the country’s most sought-after jobs. “More than 10 people apply to be primary-school teachers for every spot we have in university,” noted Prof. Malaty, who attributes this to the profession’s unique culture and status.
Wow. teaching primary school is a high-status job people fight for??
Now in contrast, here is how we see education treated in most business organizations. (I regularly train employees on behalf of one the country’s top business schools, and one of our largest clients is the training division of a large college. )
Training days are an excuse to take time off work, right? And all the tasks you didn’t get done because you were off on some training boondoggle will be waiting for you when you get back.
Training, with the exception of technical and task training, doesn’t equip you to do anything different or better. Sitting in a classroom is not so much fun (although if you are lucky lunch is pretty good.)
Training is about getting enough educational points to move up the organizational hierarchy.
Beleagered HR staff lose their budgets and have their training days cancelled if something more important comes up…like, regularly.
Co-workers plan to avoid new trainees who come back from a positive experience they can’t stop raving about. They’ll get back to normal in a couple of days.
Maybe we should think about the culture of education in the workplace. When you lthink about it, we can’t afford not to.