Finland University gave a presentation on Finnish education in New York, USA in November 2017 to senior education leaders.

“We were delighted to give this presentation with Mr. William Doyle, a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar who spent a year in University of Eastern Finland as a lecturer on media and education,” said Pekka T. Saavalainen, CEO of Finland University. “We had a full audience and the interest level was very high.”

The audience was an extraordinary gathering of 40 of the senior leaders of the public and private school systems. “They were all very interested in learning more about Finland and Finland’s education system”, noted Mr. Doyle. Mr Doyle is an award-winning author currently writing about Finnish way of learning through play.

The audience included New York State education luminaries like:

  • Dr. Betty Rosa, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents
  • Ms. Judith Johnson, member of the New York State Board of Regents
  • Mr. Phil Weinberg, the New York City Deputy Chancellor of Public Schools in charge of teaching and learning, and his chief of staff
  • Mr. Timothy McNiff, the School Superintendent of the Archdiocese of New York.

 “These participants are the absolute pinnacle of US educational leadership and they were very impressed. They see Finland as a gold standard to emulate or to be inspired by,” notes Mr. Doyle.

There were many questions about Finland University, how the Finnish school system is organised, and about the roles of teachers and principals. Areas of interest included curriculum, assessment, teacher collaboration and teacher training.

“Participants were interested in gaining concrete insights they could put into action in the United States,” said Mr. Saavalainen.

The audience seemed surprised how differently and effectively Finland has managed to organise its education system.

There are certain things others should learn from Finnish school system. First of all, train teachers like scientist. Nobody does that as well as Finland. Teachers should be researchers and have a Master’s degree, and they must be respected professionals. Otherwise, we cannot improve the system,” said Mr. Doyle.

“Second, let the children play. Give them play breaks and give them the opportunity to refresh and recharge and they will perform better. Nobody understands that in the world better than Finland.  And third, deliver educational equity and resources. Resources should be fairly distributed and not dependent on income variations. That is our challenge in the United States and we have to fix that to have any hope of improving our system,” added Mr. Doyle.

There are more than 1 million students in New York City alone. In Finland there are fewer than half a million students in the whole country. It is clear that the Finnish system cannot be replicated as such but it can serve as a beacon and an inspiration.

“Finland can be the IVY League of teacher training and professional development and CERN of global education. But my message to the participants was that do not think Finland as a large-scale factory. Think of it as a laboratory where you can reflect your own practice, maybe do things differently and inspire both Finland and the United States,” concluded Mr. Doyle.


Additional information:

Pekka T. Saavalainen, CEO Finland University, tel +358 40 6850717

Finland University is the international education brand, and marketing and sales company of four leading Finnish research universities: University of Eastern Finland, University of Tampere, University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University. All universities are in the top 2% of global university rankings.

Finland University provides the degree programmes and professional development programmes of its member universities to individuals and institutions worldwide (universities, government ministries and agencies, foundations, companies). At the moment, Finland University is delivering programmes for customers based in South East Asia, China, Latin America and the Middle East.

William Doyle is a 2015-2016 Fulbright Scholar, a 2017 Rockefeller Foundation Resident Fellow, a Scholar in Residence and Lecturer on Media and Education at the University of Eastern Finland, and an award-winning, bestselling author and TV producer (HBO, PBS, The History Channel) based in New York City. In 2017, he was appointed as rapporteur to advise the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture on education export and exchange. 


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