That Finnish teaching success

Ye, we know, Finland’s teachers are great, the school system is excellent.

But the five-year master’s degree for primary school teachers is not in question. Competition is fierce – only 7% of applicants in Helsinki were accepted this year, leaving more than 1,400 disappointed.

It’s the smart people going to be teachers. As opposed to the UK where….well, I don’t know about now so much but back when two Es got you into the teacher training college when three As might or might not get you into Oxbridge. Many of the inmates of the girlfriend farm that was the local teacher training college were in fact remarkably dumb.

49 thoughts on “That Finnish teaching success”

  1. Telling it like it was.

    Not sure if it is still true. Age and distance don’t allow me to data check.

  2. As they say, this was a feature not a bug. If you want to remake society along patently absurd lines, you start in the schools and you employ plausible and malleable idiots to do the indoctrination, having first indoctrinated them yourself.

  3. This is also why the “left” is so against outsiders coming in “with no teaching qualifications”. Why would you want people who have seen the real world coming in to pollute your staff room?

  4. Weren’t the “inmates of the girlfriend farm” predominantly training to be primary school teachers ? No offence to 8 year olds but you don’t need an Oxbridge First to teach handwriting and sums.

    Back in the 80s at my undistinguished except through age public school almost half my teachers were Oxbridge graduates. Doubt it is much different today.

  5. You might not need an Oxbridge first to teach an eight year old sums, BUT, even an eight year old is capable of grasping that the teacher has a lower IQ than he does when the teacher is stumped by an off script question.

  6. When I left school in the mid 90’s it was, very much, the EE students who were going into teaching. And this was a time when grade-inflation was sufficiently well underway that ABB was the minimum entry standard for any worthwhile university/degree combo.

    My sixth form had a scary number of people who spent two years resitting GCSE maths and English to get the C-grade minimum teacher training standard.

  7. Having 3 As doesn’t make you smart. My son was conceived via IVF when speaking to the Doctor (who presumably was very academic) about the various options. I asked which one gives most babies per £ spent. She looked at me in surprise when to me it was a really obvious question.
    At that point I decided I should have been a Doctor.

  8. Some decades ago I dated someone who I still presume to be the only person ever to fail to get into teacher training college at the first attempt.

    As they say – those who can do, those who can’t teach, those who can’t teach teach teachers, and those who can’t teach teachers become OFSTED inspectors.

  9. I knew two girls at university who probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, both of whom went into teaching because:

    1) it was marginally better than the dead-end jobs they would otherwise have got, and
    2) they were paying a bounty of a couple of grand to anyone who did the teacher training course.

    I don’t know what happened to one of them, but the other I used to see on FB until recently slagging off Gove for “trying to destroy education in Britain”.

  10. True paying peanuts gets you monkeys but how can we raise standards without paying the existing monkeys more money!

    @Interested
    “This is also why the “left” is so against outsiders coming in “with no teaching qualifications”. Why would you want people who have seen the real world coming in to pollute your staff room?”
    They are also anti foreign teachers apart from EU ones coming here without a year being brainwashed first

  11. “At that point I decided I should have been a Doctor.”

    Q: What do you call the person who came bottom in medical school?

    A: Doctor.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that an ex-girlfriend at uni was doing medicine. She was extremely smart, way brighter than me, and got so bored with the rote learning that she took a few years break to do “proper” science. Last I heard, she is now one of the top researchers in her field.

    Run-of-the-mill GPs don’t strike me as being the sharpest, especially as Google does most of the hard work these days.

  12. True paying peanuts gets you monkeys but how can we raise standards without paying the existing monkeys more money!

    You’ve hit the nail on the head there. If the DoE decided it was going to ramp up the salaries to attract the best and brightest, we’d have the incumbent NUT dimwits hoovering up the excess cash for themselves. Any such increase would have to come with a heavy machine gun and a sturdy brick wall or, if that seems a bit harsh, at least a system where the crap teachers can be fired.

  13. If you ever want a laugh have a look at the tests that are required for getting into teacher training.

  14. Can you imagine that sort of attrition rate being tolerated here? The SJWs would call it a hollocaust.

  15. A stand up comedian I say a couple of weeks ago opined “we should pay teachers much more”.
    A huge cheer came from a section of the hall.
    “No” he replied “If we paid them more other people would be teachers; not you”.

  16. But they aren’t actually paid more. Here’s how teaching salaries compare around the world: teachers in Finland are paid only slightly more than in the UK, and far less than in Germany or the Netherlands.

    There’s not much point in looking at absolute values. Instead, you’d need to look at the salaries of what teachers could otherwise get. If in Finland a teacher earns around the same as an engineer, doctor, lawyer etc. then they are well paid in that society. If they are paid the same as a call-centre operative, then they are not.

  17. Andrew M.

    Interesting chart. Thanks. I notice that supposedly socialist paradise, Sweden, pays less than both capitalist running dogs, UK and US.

  18. @Tim Newman

    ‘You’ve hit the nail on the head there. If the DoE decided it was going to ramp up the salaries to attract the best and brightest, we’d have the incumbent NUT dimwits hoovering up the excess cash for themselves. Any such increase would have to come with a heavy machine gun and a sturdy brick wall or, if that seems a bit harsh, at least a system where the crap teachers can be fired.’

    Bang on the money – isn’t this part of the endgame vis a vis free schools?

  19. S2

    I’m laughing because I always forget their names
    They turn up a year or two later on TV and I think “Oh, I’ve seen him”.

    Anyway I really would recommend a close reading of the report, because the devil really is in the detail. Before the Finns lightened the inspection load – Phase 2 – they tightened it up, together with the curicullum – Phase 1.

    I would also note that in the UK we have big differences in quality between subjects. I have met, you might not be surprised to know, met RE teachers who can barely write their own name. I also think I’d be inclined to ask the Maths teacher to give give kids private lessons in humanity subjects rather than the ‘specialist’.

  20. “Many of the inmates of the girlfriend farm that was the local teacher training college were in fact remarkably dumb”

    Which was probably a good thing at the time…

  21. The R4 one o’clock news the other day came from Runnymede, and they interviewed a local comp (history?) teacher who was asked why he was teaching the kids stuff about Magna Carta.

    It was a feast of dropped gs, ‘f’ masquerading as ‘th’, lots of use of ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘the kids’ etc. Basically, it seemed to boil down to ‘We teach the kids this stuff because it’s important, innit.’

  22. Q: What do you call the person who came bottom at West Point?

    A: General Custer.

    I always remember that when told that exams mean nuffink.

  23. @David
    “True paying peanuts gets you monkeys but how can we raise standards without paying the existing monkeys more money!”

    What you do is announce that substantial pay rises will apply only to new entrants from a particular date, who would of course be recruited in accordance with more stringent criteria. Those already in post and wanting to benefit from the extra money would be advised that they could apply for their own jobs.

    This would be the solution in much of the public sector.

  24. “hose already in post and wanting to benefit from the extra money would be advised that they could resign and reapply for their own jobs.”

    That little change might focus the mind somewhat

  25. AndrewWS

    “This would be the solution in much of the public sector.”

    =============

    No. Salary is not the limiting factor in the quality of teacher applicants. In fact, I think a case could be made that teachers are paid too much.

  26. Well, if (State) teachers want to be paid more, why do they insist on only having one employer? Morons.

  27. About one-third of the girls I attended school with became teachers. There were limited career options for young women back then. If you weren’t especially academic you took your five O-Levels to Teacher Training College; bright girls stayed on to complete their A-Levels and became nurses. That said, I’ve known a fair number of teachers (younger models) that had quality degrees from decent universities and who were working at failing schools in London. The problem is persuading them to move to towns such as Grimsby.

  28. > It was a feast of dropped gs, ‘f’ masquerading as ‘th’, lots of use of ‘like’, ‘you know’, ‘the kids’ etc.

    Oh no! He had an accent? The ignominy!

    Linguists will tell you that almost everyone uses about the same amount of meaningless interjections like “like” and “well” and “you know”, but the words and phrases change from one generation to the next. People don’t notice the words their own generation uses but do notice those used by younger generations, and conclude erroneously from that that younger generations are using such constructions more because they’re less eloquent. They’re not using them more; they’re using different ones.

  29. >As they say – those who can do, those who can’t teach, those who can’t teach teach teachers, and those who can’t teach teachers become OFSTED inspectors.

    Well, the people who become education teachers at Uni are generally a lot brighter than the people they teach (not bright, but brighter than the teachers). And they’d be just as good (or just as bad) at primary or high school teaching. But being a University lecturer is a lot more attractive than being a school teacher. The pay is better. There’s more prestige. The work is more intellectually stimulating. it’s not such a dreary, endless grind. And, most important of all, you get to force your ideology onto impressionable and influential young minds.

  30. Bloke in Costa Rica

    At my school, the teachers rolled in around 7.30am and left in the evening around 6. A certain proportion of them would stay to supervise prep until 9.30. Duty teacher was a two week rolling position which meant coming in a bit before 6am to police breakfast, then prowling around looking for miscreants during the day and leaving at 11pm or so. All teachers were involved in extra-curricular activities and sport, often on weekends. Pay was a slight premium over Burnham rate but not much (10%, maybe). My sister, who was forced to attend the local comp, said that when they were let out at 3.30 you had to move pretty sharpish to avoid the teachers peeling out of the staff car park. Salary was clearly not the differentiator here.

  31. >said that when they were let out at 3.30 you had to move pretty sharpish to avoid the teachers peeling out of the staff car park. Salary was clearly not the differentiator here.

    Things have changed, though. I know quite a few teachers and they have to work their arses off — not the older, entrenched teachers, but the newer ones. It’s not like the old days any more for the newer staff. (Not saying that’s bad, just that perceptions based on what was the case twenty years ago aren’t really relevant any more.)

    Personally, knowing how things are now, I wouldn’t become a high school teacher even if it paid 100k.

    It’s different for infant/primary school teachers. That’s a much easier job. But then they get paid significantly less as a result.

  32. “Personally, knowing how things are now, I wouldn’t become a high school teacher even if it paid 100k.” – Cal

    There is a lot of crap going on in schools in my area. Good teachers quit. If you paid them 100k a year, they probably wouldn’t quit. Schooling wouldn’t improve; good people would just accept the crap. Higher pay will prolong the problems.

  33. My daughter is in what’s nowadays called ‘year 1’. Her teacher is responsible for teaching her basic arithmetic and literacy. I doubt anyone in her entire subsequent schooling history will achieve anything as significant.

  34. The inconvenient truth

    All this talk about ‘paying peanuts’ is nonsense – you can add 30% to the salary numbers quoted to take into account the value of the DB pension!

  35. Why dont you face it? there has been a large drop in IQ in all you generations.
    How else would have Blair succeded. . Why else do you need so many foreigners to do the real jobs. Why is gluttony now a skill.

  36. So Much for Subtlety

    I don’t think money is what is important in education now. It is work conditions. When I talk to teachers the thing that they seem to think would make the biggest difference in their lives is the Head supporting them on discipline. When they can’t toss a little sh!t from their class, or when they do, the Head refuses to punish him, it makes their job so much worse that most sensible people will quit.

    Add a constant Politically Correct atmosphere to make sure no teacher is committing a thought crime and you do not have a very nice work place.

  37. So Much for Subtlety

    Shinsei1967 – “No offence to 8 year olds but you don’t need an Oxbridge First to teach handwriting and sums.”

    Says someone who has not spent four hours trying to explain Pythagoras’ Theorem to a primary school teacher who had to teach it to her little dears the next day.

  38. So Much for Subtlety

    Squander Two – “Linguists will tell you that almost everyone uses about the same amount of meaningless interjections like “like” and “well” and “you know”, but the words and phrases change from one generation to the next.”

    I am old enough to have been taught by the last generation of people who got a proper education. With grammar and all. Greek. Latin. Regular beatings. That sort of thing. They definitely were not my generation and did not use my generation’s meaningless interjections. But they were a model of clarity and precise usage.

    So I think this sounds like the usual modern academic bullsh!t to me. Correct usage can be taught. The inability to form a coherent sentence is very much a sign of some bigger problems.

  39. “My daughter is in what’s nowadays called ‘year 1′. Her teacher is responsible for teaching her basic arithmetic and literacy.”

    Didn’t you do that before you sent her to school? You must really trust her school.

  40. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Richard: my mother got an ear-bashing for doing exactly that. Forty years ago. It was stepping on their turf or some such bollocks.

    I hear stories about the increased workload on teachers but is it a heavier burden than that in any normal white collar job? And there are benefits most people don’t see. Like they say, the three best things about being a teacher: June, July and August.

  41. BiCR:
    >Like they say, the three best things about being a teacher: June, July and August.

    Again, you’re talking about a vanished world. (And I don’t know what the term dates were in your day but my kids’ school runs until late July).

    Gamecock:
    >There is a lot of crap going on in schools in my area. Good teachers quit. If you paid them 100k a year, they probably wouldn’t quit. Schooling wouldn’t improve; good people would just accept the crap. Higher pay will prolong the problems.

    Agree.

    SMFS:
    >Add a constant Politically Correct atmosphere to make sure no teacher is committing a thought crime and you do not have a very nice work place.

    Yes.

  42. Richard, yes, to some extent I did (and still do), but she was too young to be learning times tables or anything but the most basic spelling/reading. It’s in year 1 that I’ve noticed the most dramatic improvement. Probably an age thing more than a teacher thing, yet this particular teacher will always be the teacher who presided.

  43. @Squander Two

    “Oh no! He had an accent? The ignominy!”

    I didn’t say anything about an accent, did I?

    It’s entirely possible to drop your Gs with an accent like that of the Queen, or Frank Bruno, or Kevin Keegan.

    It’s about precision in speech, and what it says about you and the way you think, and it does sometimes say quite a lot.

    You didn’t hear the guy (I assume). He sounded incredibly stupid. His sentences were as unclear and imprecise as the individual words they contained.

    He is teaching children.

    You go ahead and celebrate that if you wish – in a way, I should, too, because my children go to a proper school where their education (including by example) includes ensuring that they speak clearly.

    They have a massive head start just because of that.

    They will (probably) do better in life than children who copy this teacher, and some people will blame money, or class, or something else, when a good part of it will be that they can look people in the eye and have a conversation that involves the clear expression of ideas and experiences and is easy to follow.

    But at least those other kids will have the satisfaction of knowing you defended them with snark on a blog.

    I notice, by the way, that you don’t drop your Gs in writing – why not, it would be quicker?

  44. By the way, he sounded to be from my generation.

    And linguists can say what they want – and I’ve heard it all before myself – people who speak more clearly think more clearly and will generally get on better in life.

    When you hear: “Like, I appear er for the like defence My Lord and what I’m goin’ to like be showin’ the er like wossname jury is that me client ain’t guilty’ let me know.

    Or, ‘I dunno how to like say this but you ain’t gonna get a cure for this like er cancer thingy, it’s goin’ to like be terminal.’

    Or, ‘Ladies and gents, this is like the captain speakin’, we’re like at I dunno some thousand feet, there’s somethin’ out the like left winders, er dunno, lemme think, like we’re gonna be landin’ in a bit, like.’

    It has nothing to do with accent or class, and it is a skill which can be taught and learned.

    Everyone will throw the occasional hesitation into their speech, and I’m not against slang here and there; it’s a question of when, where, how much and by whom, and if the answers are ‘1pm’, ‘Radio 4’, ‘loads’ and ‘a man whose job is to communicate to and teach children’ it’s not acceptable.

    To me. But like I say, why the fuck should I care? They’re not my kids!

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