Finnish Lessons

  • by Pasi Sahlberg
  • Narrated by Paul Michael Garcia
  • 7 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Ever wondered how Finland managed to build its highly regarded school system? Look behind the headlines and find out.
Finnish Lessons is a firsthand, comprehensive account of how Finland built a world-class education system over the past three decades. The author traces the evolution of education policies in Finland and highlights how they differ from those in the United States and other industrialized countries. Rather than relying on competition, school choice, and external testing of students, education reforms in Finland focus on professionalizing teachers’ work, developing instructional leadership in schools, and enhancing trust in teachers and schools. This book details the complexity of educational change and encourages educators and policy makers to develop effective solutions for their own districts and schools.Pasi Sahlberg recounts the history of Finnish educational reform as only a well-traveled insider can, offering the insight and facts necessary for others to constructively participate in improving their schools—even in a tightening economy.Pasi Sahlberg is director general of the Centre for International Mobility at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture in Helsinki. He is an expert in educational reform, training teachers, coaching schools, and advising policy makers. He has worked in Finland as a teacher, teacher educator, policy advisor, and director and served the World Bank and the European Commission as an education expert. He has a PhD from the University of Jyväskylä and is adjunct professor at the Universities of Helsinki and Oulu.


What the Critics Say

"The story of Finland’s extraordinary educational reforms is one that should inform policymakers and educators around the world. No one tells this story more clearly and engagingly than Pasi Sahlberg. This book is a must-read." (Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at the Stanford University School of Education)
"This book is a wake-up call for the United States. Finland went from mediocre academic results to one of the top performers in the world. And they did it with unions, minimal testing, national collaboration, and elevating teaching to a high-status calling. This is the antidote to the NCLB paralysis." (Henry M. Levin, William H. Kilpatrick Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University)
"A terrific synthesis by a native Finn, a teacher, a researcher, and a policy analyst all rolled up into one excellent writer. Pasi Sahlberg teaches us a great deal about what we need to know before engaging in national educational reforms." (David Berliner, Regents Professor of Education, Arizona State University)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Where are the Lessons?

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I'm not sure who this book is for. It doesn't seem to be for educators or instructional designers, and it is too vague for much use in policy considerations. Perhaps education boards could glean some insight from it on how to treat teachers.

What do you think your next listen will be?

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald Norman

Would you listen to another book narrated by Paul Michael Garcia?

While I am not a huge fan of the narrator's performance , the performance is sufficient such that I would listen to another book narrated by him if the topic was of interest.

What character would you cut from Finnish Lessons?


Any additional comments?

I was disappointed by the lack of meat in the book. I understand that large systems can be difficult to understand, but despite the book's title, there aren't really any lessons here with one important exception. Thus either:
a) the author doesn't have a clear understanding of the aspects that make Finnish education so remarkable (correlation is not the same thing as causation)
b) the author doesn't communicate those reasons well, or
c) the reasons behind Finnish success in education aren't well-understood in general.

I haven't done a lot of extra research on the topic, but I get the feeling that the last reason is the correct one. That's no fault of the author, but it does mean the book should have a different title. One thing that is fairly clear is that a cultural expectation that teachers should perform at their best as professionals and be masters of their discipline most likely makes a major impact on the quality of education.

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- Small Mountain

An eyeopener and great perspective for the future

What made the experience of listening to Finnish Lessons the most enjoyable?

The new information. It was a great informative experience. There were alot of things that I didn't know yet and before listening to this audiobook the 'myth' of the Finish Educational system was something that was pretty unknown to me.

Would you be willing to try another book from Pasi Sahlberg? Why or why not?

Yes, I would like to read a book in which he is even more critiqual to the Finish education system itself.

Which character – as performed by Paul Michael Garcia – was your favorite?

He only performed one character so I don't think that this question is relevant. Although the character he performed was quite good.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No I didn't have any of such reactions.

Any additional comments?


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- Sander van der Maas

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-24-2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.