Education Politices and Contingency: Beliefs, Status and Trust Behind the Finnish PISA Miracle


  • Hannu Simola Universidad de Helsinki y Universidad de Turku
  • Risto Rinne Universidad de Helsinki y Universidad de Turku

Palabras clave:

PISA, Finland, comparative education, evaluation, quality, trust, professionalism


The authors suggest three concepts which they consider to be promising theoretical concepts for
comparative education. These are: (1) bringing the theoretical concepts of path dependency,
convergence and contingency together, (2) tracing the history of the problématique and (3)
analysing national and local interpretations and translations as hybrids. In their analysis of the
‘Finnish PISA miracle’, the authors focus exclusively on the concept of contingency to see whether
the concept can facilitate a broader understanding on the national phenomenon of ‘Finnish PISA
success’. As a first step they identify three national ‘truths’ that are widely accepted in Finland
even though there is, according to the authors, not too much empirical research evidence behind
them: the Finns share a high belief in schooling, teaching is a very highly regarded profession in
Finland and the Finnish comprehensive school enjoys rather high trust on the part of both parents,
authorities and politicians. In their analysis, Simola y Rinne illustrate that the genesis of these
three national ‘beliefs’ is rather the result of coincidence and conjunction, than the result of
rational and purposeful educational planning by educational politicians. In their conclusion, they
claim on the basis of their presented case that conceptualisations such as contingency must be
taken seriously when pursuing an understanding of national education policies and politics. The
alternative approach, i.e. operating only through functionalist and system