Taught by Finland (and Germany, too)

When I was in graduate school at the University of Georgia, I had to take a dreaded course on research.  Quantitative analysis, standard deviations, and Bell Curves?  Oh my!

I really had no interest in most research classes back then.  I just wanted to know more about how to teach my students to be better readers.  My advising professor understood, and Dr. Stahl steered me towards a practical course called Teacher Action Research.

“Action” guarantees excitement, right?  Any research course specifically geared towards teachers is bound to have some redeeming value, right?  Yes, to both!

timothydwalker_1407589688_52The school where I taught hosted a number of exchange program teachers each year.  Our students received rich, cultural educations from teachers from Argentina, Mexico, England, Canada, and Germany.

For my research project that semester, I chose to study how one particular teacher from Germany adapted to and navigated the American education system as implemented in our school.  Like the students, I received a rich, cultural education.  For example, I learned that in German schools students were taught letter sounds before letter names.  Sounds were introduced in kindergarten and first grade, but the letter names were not taught until late first grade and into second grade.

That project, so many years ago, planted a seed that has continued to grow.  I have maintained an interest in the performance and methods of school systems in other countries, and surprisingly, I have become a bit of a data nerd.  Quantitative analysis, standard deviations, and Bell Curves!  Oh my!

Much is written about the American education system.  PISA and TIMMS assessments compare student performance among countries of the world.  Then there is Tim Walker’s blog, Taught by Finland.  Tim is an American teacher working in a Finnish school and blogging about his experience.  While not directly connected to early childhood education, Tim’s insight as a fifth grade teacher and his unique perspective documenting life in the world’s highest achieving school system is well worth a read.

Take a look at Tim’s blog, Taught by Finland.


I train Georgia PreK teachers and dabble a bit in the art of blogging. Have an idea for a blog post? Email me at bestpractices@gsu.edu. On the web: www.bestpractices.gsu.edu Facebook: www.facebook.com/bestpracticespk Twitter: @bestpracticespk

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2 comments on “Taught by Finland (and Germany, too)
  1. Ayn Colsh says:

    I love being a Ga. Pre-K teacher and am glad we are starting to take notice of what other countries are doing right! I have admired the Finnish educational system for a long time. The are doing the right thing and their students are thriving! Thank you for sharing the “Taught By Finland” blog. I will be visiting often!

  2. Alan says:

    Thank you for sharing, Ayn. Tim Walker does an excellent job detailing his experiences, and the American media have taken notice of the blog. He has been published in The Atlantic Monthly at least twice in the past year, and I think I remember seeing him mentioned in the New York Times.

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