1st Edition

The Finnish Education Mystery Historical and sociological essays on schooling in Finland

By Hannu Simola Copyright 2015
    308 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    308 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Finnish education has been a focus of global interest since its first PISA success in 2001. After years of superficial celebration, astonishment and educational tourism, the focus has recently shifted to what is possibly the most interesting element of this Finnish success story: that Finnish schools have been effectively applying methods that go against the flow of global education policy with no testing, no inspection, no hard evaluation, no detailed national curriculum, no accountability and no hard competition. From a historical and sociological perspective the Finnish case is not merely a linear success story, but is part of a controversial and paradoxical struggle towards Utopia: towards egalitarian schooling.

    Bringing together a collection of essays by Hannu Simola and his colleagues, this book analyses the key dimensions of schooling in Finland to provide a critical, analytical and uncompromising picture of the Finnish education system. Going beyond the story of success, the book reveals the complexities of educational change, but also identifies opportunities and alternatives for smart political action in complex and trans-national societies.

    Including a selection of key chapters on Finnish education policy and governance, teacher education and classroom cultures, the book will be of interest to researchers, academics and postgraduate students in comparative education, teacher education, educational policy and educational reform.

    Introduction  I - Education Policy-making and Governance: Struggling between Egalitarianism and Market-liberalism 1. Firmly Bolted into the Air: Wishful rationalism as a Discursive Basis for Educational Reforms?  2. Abdication of the Education State or Just Shifting Responsibilities? Constructing a New System of Reason in Finnish Schooling (with Rinne, R. & Kivirauma, J.)  3. Quality Assurance and Evaluation in Finnish Compulsory Schooling: a National Model or Just Unintended Effects of Radical Decentralisation? (with Rinne, R., Varjo, J., Kauko, J. & Pitkänen, H.)  II - Teachers and Their Education: Paradoxes in a Successful Professionalization Project  4. Educational Science, the State and Teachers: Setting up the Corporate Regulation of Teacher Education in Finland  5. The Foucauldian History of Truth and the Birth of the Modern Finnish Teacher (with Heikkinen, S. & Silvonen, J.)  6. Didactic Closure: Professionalization and Pedagogical Knowledge in Finnish Teacher Education (with Kivinen, O. & Rinne, R.)  III - Schooling Practices: A Peculiar Marriage of the Traditional and the Progressive  7. From Exclusion to Self-selection: the Examination of Behaviour in Finnish Primary and Comprehensive School from the 1860s to the 1990s  8. "It’s Progress but … " Finnish Teachers Talking about Their Changing Work"  9. Changes in Nordic Teaching Practices: From Individualised Teaching to the Teaching of Individuals (with Carlgren, I., Klette, K., Myrdal, S. & Schnack, K.)  IV - Understanding the Finnish PISA Miracle: Decent Work Ethics, Reasonable Leadership and Lucky Constellations  10. The Finnish Miracle of PISA: Historical and Sociological Remarks on Teaching and Teacher Education  11. Against the Flow: Path Dependence, Convergence and Contingency in Understanding the Finnish QAE Model (with Varjo, J. & Rinne, R.)  12. Education Politics and Contingency: Belief, Status and Trust behind the Finnish PISA Miracle (with Rinne, R.)  Aftermath


    Hannu Simola is Professor of Sociology of Education in the Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland.

    "... an inspiring and different approach to the topic of the already extensively thematised (and recently also troubled) success of education in Finland. ... I believe that readers will not be disappointed. They are likely to remain with the author for some time, and to return to him often during their own research in education, particularly if their area of research is comparative education and conceptualisations of contemporary shifts in rationalities of education and its agents. ... In his book The Finnish Education Mystery, Simola comes as close as possible to the standards he himself conceptualises as standards for studies engaged in education policy studies." - Slavko Gaber, C.E.P.S. (Center for Educational Policy Studies) Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1