Can you imagine a land where teachers, those folks to whom we entrust our most valuable asset, our children, are treated with the same esteem as doctors and lawyers? Resisting any and all cheap lawyer jokes, I can assure you such a place exists – Finland. Not only are teachers well thought of, but the school system in Finland excels. Could those two things be related? Not if you follow the North American model.
Perhaps it’s because teaching was long seen as a “woman’s” job, and we all know how women get treated when it comes to the workplace, but teachers are notoriously underpaid and under respected professionally. The silly old argument that would have you believe they only work three or four hours a day still holds water today. But anyone who knows a teacher understands that the many hours of preparation done after classroom time go, for the most part, unpaid and unrecognized. Some say other professions such as lawyers, accountants and doctors also work long hours. Fine,but they are also very well paid. It seems we want teachers to work lawyer’s hours for waitress’s pay. (With all due respect to waitresses.)
Below is a graphic indicating the success of Finland’s education system when compared to others. Fewer standardized tests and no homework seems to be paying off, or is the respect shown teachers in Finland playing a major role in these results? I imagine it’s a bit of everything, an overall attitude toward education that is refreshing.