On Salon, David Sirota interviews Harvard's Tony Wagner about his documentary, The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World's Most Surprising School System, which looks at the way that the Finnish education system delivers consistent, high-quality education without testing, with long holidays for students, and with teachers who are considered national treasures.
There is no domestic testing except a very quiet auditing program to test demographic samples of kids; not for accountability, not for public consumption, and not for comparison across schools. The fascinating thing is that because they have created such a high level of professionalism, they can trust their teachers. Their motto is "Trust Through Professionalism." The difference between the highest performing school in Finland and the lowest performing school in Finland is less than four percent, and that's without any testing at all…
Finland is rated among the highest in the world in innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity. It's not your grandfather's socialist country in any sense of the word.
But beyond that, what I find so striking is that the reforms in [the U.S.] have been driven and led by businesses for the last quarter century. It was David Kearns at Xerox and Lou Gerstner at IBM calling for a national summit on education and they didn't invite any educators. They invited CEOs and governors and senators and congressmen.