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


  • Hannu Simola Universidad de Helsinki

Palabras clave:

Finland, PISA, Social, cultural and historical factors, successs


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’. By way of conclusion, I will
present two paradoxes that could be considered meaningful and important in attempts to
understand Finnish comprehensive schooling today and in the near future.