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The Finnish miracle of PISA: historical and sociological remarks on teaching and teacher education

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One of the recent tributes to the success of Finnish schooling was the PISA 2000 project report. As befits the field of education, the explanations are primarily pedagogical, referring especially to the excellent teachers and high‐quality teacher education. Without underrating the explanatory power of these statements, this paper presents some of the social, cultural and historical factors behind the pedagogical success of the Finnish comprehensive school. From the perspectives of history and the sociology of education, it also sheds light on some ironic paradoxes and dilemmas that may be concealed by the success. The focus is on the problematic nature of international comparative surveys based on school performance indicators. The question is whether they really make it possible to understand schooling in different countries, or whether they are just part of processes of ‘international spectacle' and ‘mutual accountability'.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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