Those lamenting the sorry state of education in Australia are likely to speak admiringly of education in Finland. I’ve heard so many anecdotal references to the Finnish education system – praising a country that is getting schooling right while we in Australia have got it so wrong – that without knowing much about Finland I’ve formed a positive impression of schools there. Perhaps it offers a way forward, the promise that with inspired governing we can turn things around.

My favourite factoid, one I’ve probably helped perpetuate, is that in Finland only state schools can teach the state curriculum. Private schools can teach other things, but not the main game. As a result all students go to state schools, and parents have a healthy interest in the wellbeing of state schools. This includes rich and privileged parents. State schools are not for those who can’t afford an elite education, they are for everybody. And everybody wants them to thrive.

You can see the appeal of this one. There isn’t much it doesn’t seem to solve.

I’m also fond of the stories I’ve heard about teacher status. Teachers are not only well qualified but highly regarded and highly paid. Students in Finland compete fiercely to gain entry to teacher education programs.

And Finland does well in international education tables – being number one or something close to it most of the time.

Perhaps you have some of your own Finnish education factoids to add?

The nature of factoids is that they develop from constant repeatings, and may or may not actually be a fact.

In the next couple of weeks I will have a go at sharing some actual facts about education in Finland, but I’m not in a hurry. I don’t want to risk disturbing my utopian vision just yet.

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