2010 March 17 Wednesday
Finnish Schools Have Elephant In The Room

I realize you can't see the elephant. But it is there. A Wall Street Journal article illustrates the total mystery which the mainstream media and political elites encounter when trying to figure out why students in some countries learn at much faster average rates than Americans. What could it be?

High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don't start school until age 7.

Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world's C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules. Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they're way ahead in math, science and reading -- on track to keeping Finns among the world's most productive workers.

Could the cause be something unmentioned in the article? Oh what oh what could it be?

Why do the Finnish kids love to read? Why don't more American kids derive pleasure from reading? What could explain this? Anyone?

One explanation for the Finns' success is their love of reading. Parents of newborns receive a government-paid gift pack that includes a picture book. Some libraries are attached to shopping malls, and a book bus travels to more remote neighborhoods like a Good Humor truck.

What could explain this? The Finnish are deficient in diversity. They don't get much sunlight in the winter. They have really cold winters. They have so many things going against them. How can they do so well in school in spite of their handicaps?

Update: On our Flat Earth we are very puzzled as we attempt explain why the Sun comes up in the East and goes down in the West and why the stars go thru such convolutions in the sky. On our Flat Earth as we understand it here in the Middle Ages humans were created equal (and just a few thousand years previously). God made us all with souls that do our thinking for us. Therefore we all should be able to do just as well at learning thinking. So as we look at the stories about school children coming to us from distant Finland we suspect maybe these stories are myths or fabrications. Here on our thoroughly Flat Earth (and anyone who says otherwise is evil of course) humans have equal abilities and so there must be some other explanation for what we see besides the heretical idea that the Earth is a revolving globe or that humans differ. We must keep up the search for this other explanation.

How else to explain the Finns?

Update II: What is really happening here? Read about the Voldemort View: the View That Must Not Be Named.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 March 17 09:57 PM  Culture Compared


Comments
Alex said at March 18, 2010 1:31 AM:

Weren't there some articles some time ago about how Finland was the black sheep of Europe because it didnt have diversity? Like it was a great socialist place and all but with one dark flaw that they really need to work on?

Mthson said at March 18, 2010 2:17 AM:

When I was growing up, mainstream intellectualism's abysmal incompetence like this guaranteed (along with other factors) that I'd develop an attitude of zero altruism and prosociality. That meant avoiding careers in which compensation comes in the form of cultural prestige, like in academia, and focusing instead on building capital.

Dragon Horse said at March 18, 2010 5:38 AM:

They are also binge drinking alcoholics who also have a like for mass murder-shoot-outs. Also high rates of depression. Also having bad weather makes one stay inside more, so they likely have a tradition of reading. Fins are the most productive workers, but don't even have the highest IQs in Europe...hmmm...

Dragon Horse said at March 18, 2010 5:47 AM:

Looking at Pisa scores America outranks the following nations:

Math: Italy, Portugal, Greece...

Okay so not as good, but Italy is not a diverse nation whatsoever...shouldn't the descendants of almighty Rome be doing better in math since they built all manners of structures and invented concrete? lol

Reading: Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Portugal. Wait, don't Germans have the highest IQs in Europe? Aren't they less diverse than the U.S.??? What their IQ doesn't make them love reading?

Science: Norway, Italy, Portugal, Greece

Once again, Norway is a nordic non-diverse country, Italy is non-diverse...their is excuse is what? Inbreeding? lol


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment


What is the elephant in their room?? LOL

J said at March 18, 2010 6:59 AM:

American whites do better than most European nations in tests like PISA. The "problem" of American schooling is that NAMs do badly compared to whites, not that American schools do a worse job of educating children that those of most first world nations. American schools are the most lavishly funded in the world, which counts for something.

J said at March 18, 2010 7:12 AM:

Peter Baldwin writes in his "The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike" that the "PISA scores of American whites (for combined science literacy, 2006) rank above every European nation other than Finland and the Netherlands".

James Bowery said at March 18, 2010 10:20 AM:

Dragon Horse, a Norwegian-American acquaintance of mine told me that on his trip to Norway, he was standing next to some Jewish tourists on a ferry headed there. As they approached, the conversation turned to the poor toilet training habits of the Norwegians as an explanation for their abysmal nation. So it may be that inbreeding isn't the cause after all! Or perhaps poor toilet training is caused by inbreeding? That's an interesting thought. I think the EU should pass a law requiring Norway to not only accept more immigrants from non-European nations, but should institute an inbreeding tax on rural Norwegian areas to pay for the relocation of urban immigrants to the countryside -- particularly the young men -- perhaps deputizing the young immigrant men to provide wider enforcement of hate speech laws.

Wouldn't it be interesting to see the outcome of that experiment? The objections of a few inbred, hate-filled, sexually jealous, poorly toilet-trained Norwegian boys notwithstanding, it seems the most ethical approach to the desperate plight and brewing Nazi revival that is Norway.

maciano said at March 18, 2010 10:53 AM:

"What could explain this? The Finnish are deficient in diversity. They don't get much sunlight in the winter. They have really cold winters. They have so many things going against them. How can they do so well in school in spite of their handicaps?"

And don't forget that Republicans, like liberals, will struggle with this too; because the Finns, like all those Europeans in the North, have socialism, suicides and atheism. How do these guys manage?! The Finnish paradox.

Hannu said at March 18, 2010 1:55 PM:

"The Finnish paradox"? No, I don't think so. The explanation is simple when you come to think about it.
We are a small nation, so we have to import a big deal of the TV-programs and all those programs are translated, NOT dubbed which is what happens in most countries even in Europa. Well, long, cold winter means long hours reading the text on the picture screen, Sopranos, Simpsons, whatever. This nearly on daily basis! So, our children get a lead in reading without noticing it. So, no mystery, no specially high IQ, just a complicated language which is written as it is spoken.

Lyle said at March 18, 2010 2:09 PM:

In Finland teaching is considered a high status job. Only the top 10% of graduates are accepted as teachers and a masters degree is required. They also have a nationalized curriculum which has had a lot of research go into it.

I think the quality of the Finnish teaching and the status they give teachers has a lot to do with their performance.

After all, in nearly every U.S. study, who the teacher is makes the largest difference in a student's performance. Students in a good teacher's class learn about a year and a half worth of material. Students in a bad teacher's class learn about half-a-year's worth of material. Race and class isn't even a consideration when compared to the teacher factor.

Brenton said at March 18, 2010 2:27 PM:

"but Italy is not a diverse nation whatsoever..."

Genetically, Italy is much more diverse than Finland. A significant portion of their ancestry isn't even European. And the estimated IQ of southern Italians is in the low 90s. Northern Italians did very well on the PISA.

Finns IQ scores have a very low standard deviation, compared to most nations. This shows up on PISA scores too IIRC. If they don't have the largest 'smart faction', it is possible that they have one of the smallest 'stupid factions'.

Mark said at March 18, 2010 3:00 PM:

Brenton,

Italians aren't European? You are out of your mind. And where, pray tell, did you get the IQ scores of southern Italians? Argentines are a mx of southern Italians and Spainards and Lynn found their average IQ to be 98... Show me where southern Italians score in the low 90s or kiss my Sicilian ass. :)

United Negro Collage Fund said at March 18, 2010 3:37 PM:

No doubt Detriot public schools aren't far behind! For the love of NAM, Lizard Pony, you're an idiot.

Digenes Akritas said at March 18, 2010 5:32 PM:

Y-chromosome haplogroups and autosomal DNA studies indicate that Southern Italians have some Middle Eastern/North African ancestry, and Finns have some Siberian/Central Asian ancestry.

Brenton said at March 18, 2010 8:25 PM:

Mark,

I'd have been happy to provide you with some sources for the statements I made, but your brutish and foul discourse makes me decide against assisting you. I don't know why you created a straw man and proceeded to insult me through it. But you can search online for IQ, academic performance, and genetic studies yourself.

Regarding Argentina, Lynn's national estimates in some cases are simply ballpark estimates, not done for the purpose of exact information on a specific nation but for a general comparison of all nations. I don't know where you got 98 from... the scores listed on wikipedia from two of his books say 96 and 93, with 93 being a newer estimate. By the way, Argentines ancestry is around 15-20% Amerindian and 5% African, and they had a lot of immigration from other European nations, (and Latin American nations today) rather than simply being Spanish and Italian.

D said at March 18, 2010 8:30 PM:

"Show me where southern Italians score in the low 90s or kiss my Sicilian ass. :)"


ttp://www.iperbole.bologna.it/iperbole/adi/XoopsAdi/uploads/PDdownloads/richard_lynn_north_south_differences_in_iq.pdf

The Man said at March 18, 2010 11:38 PM:

FYI: I was a chef at remote guest ranches and at every one the library book mobile stopped by.

xxddxx said at March 19, 2010 12:19 PM:

the finns and scandis in spite of being such a small faction of the worlds population have 2 of the worlds best poker players. patrik A and zigmund

not anon or anonymous said at March 19, 2010 5:04 PM:

"Show me where southern Italians score in the low 90s or kiss my Sicilian ass. :)

ttp://www.iperbole.bologna.it/iperbole/adi/XoopsAdi/uploads/PDdownloads/richard_lynn_north_south_differences_in_iq.pdf

Guess what. You can tell it's a load of bologna just by looking at that URL.

asdsadsad said at March 19, 2010 5:47 PM:

Italian-Americans are economically doing pretty well. I think their income level is as high as any other group
and they seem to be about as well educated. Greeks, by the way, are really successful, especially in business.
So I don't know if I buy an IQ-based explanation for everything.

My guess about Finland:

1.) Decently high average IQ
2.) Hardworking, conscientious, and responsible people
3.) Good culture that promotes learning and intellectual curiosity

East Asians, by the wage, have extremely long school hours and do enormous amounts of homework. There
was a school in Harlem that tried the East Asian schooling approach and was able to rasie black scores
quite a bit. My guess is that hardwork, good teachers and parent, and a good culture can make a big difference, even
for the dim kids.

mike said at March 20, 2010 5:46 PM:

While I agree most of Finland's "success" is probably mostly due to a high average IQ, they also benefit from a Germanic-style education system, which streams secondary students into academic and vocational schools - something not done in English-speaking countries. This is one reason why north European countries still make stuff like Cruise liners and big rigs, and countries like Britain can't even make and design a reasonable mass production family car.

Also, I do think excessive internal assessment and over-measuring is having a negative impact on male students in English-speaking countries. Guys prefer exams because they handle stress better, while girls prefer internal assessment because they are more dilegent with homework and better at following verbal instructions.

As far as those stories you here about NAM kids doing well in strict schools with lots of homework, I wonder if the researcher factor in possibility that kids who don't want to put with the discipline opt-out of these kind of schools, which would no doubt flatter these school's test results.

Mark said at March 21, 2010 12:18 PM:

My mistake about Argentina's IQ score.

In IQ and the Wealth of Nations, Lynn massaged a great deal of his data so as to fit his theory of a north-south European cline in IQ.

http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2004/08/richard-lynns-massaged-iq-data.html

Given this, and given that most Italian-Americans have ancestors from southern Italy or Sicily yet have higher educational attainment and income than the average American, I take his assertion here that Sicilians and southern Italians have an average IQ in the upper 80s, low 90s range with a grain of salt. Italian-American educational and economic achievement simply do not match what one would expect from a group with an average IQ of 89-93.

His findings are robust enough that I have trouble believing he made the whole thing up, however, especially considering that a complete fabrication of PISA scores would have probably been caught. Also, the overrepresentation of northern Italians among significant figures in Italy is suggestive of a general north-south cline in IQ. But I doubt it's as great as he says for the reasons stated above.

Incidentally, the North African contribution to the Sicilian gene pools seems to be about 7%, on par with the North African contribution to Spain's gene pool, which Lynn claims has an IQ of 99.

http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2009/01/north-african-male-legacy-in-southern.html

On the other hand, if the difference between the north and the south was more on the order of 5 points, genetics might explain that difference.

Mark said at March 21, 2010 12:28 PM:

Also, this seems an interesting critique of Lynn's study:

"Lynn already knows the pitfalls of his approach. Finland had the highest score in Europe on the 2006 PISA tests, and using his method leads to a calculated IQ of 107, yet he reports Finns' IQ as being just 97. Romanians' PISA score is near the very bottom of Europe, leading to an estimate of 85, though their measured IQ is in fact 94 according to Lynn, just three points lower than that of Finns. With discrepancies like that, there's absolutely no reason to trust his calculated IQs of around 100 and 90 for Northern and Southern Italians. Clearly, PISA scores are not a very good substitute for IQ."

http://racialreality.blogspot.com/2010/03/richard-lynn-on-italian-iq.html

Mark said at March 21, 2010 12:32 PM:

Also (from the same critique):

"Finally, Lynn offers his "explanation" for the disparities in fake IQ, which, not surprisingly, turns out to be admixture from the Middle East and North Africa, where (according to him) IQs are in the range of 80-84. As you might expect from someone with an agenda and little knowledge of genetics, he references a lot of old studies that use single or small numbers of loci and don't directly address the question of admixture. One of them has "Neolithic demic diffusion in Europe" in its title, yet he stupidly follows the citation with references to historical groups like Phoenicians and Arabs.

Recent genome-wide studies have been able to detect and quantify admixture like never before. Li et al. (2008), using more than 600,000 autosomal SNPs, identify seven global population clusters, including European, Middle Eastern and Central/South Asian. Contrary to Lynn's claims, it's actually the overachieving Tuscans who have a small amount of non-European admixture and not the underachieving Sardinians..."

Skot German said at March 21, 2010 4:44 PM:

The best method for evaluating the effects of diversity on educational achievement is to look at longitudinal test results for countries where diversity is increasing. Not a profound insight, I know, and I am not the first one to think of it. What the results will show is that the higher percentage of Whites and Asians, the higher the test results. This is well documented but there are always other variables that race deniers can point to explain the phenomenon.

Digenes Akritas said at March 21, 2010 5:52 PM:

If Lynn wants to claim that southern Italians are less intelligent than northerners because of Middle Eastern and North African admixture, he might want to consider the fact that the historical invaders he is blaming for the alleged low IQ of southern Italians were hardly considered dim bulbs by their contemporaries. The Phoenicians invented the alphabet and circumnavigated Africa, and at the time of the Arab conquest of Sicily, significant scientific advances (such as ibn-al-Haytham's theory of optics) were more likely to be made in Iraq than in Carolingian France or Anglo-Saxon England.

no i don't said at March 23, 2010 7:39 PM:

Intelligence? Isn't it interesting how much we talk about what we don't really know? Linking "superior intelligence" to a particular ethnic group is a mistake many are still prone to.

I.Q. can measure intelligence only to a point. On this planet, species' intelligence has to do with brain mass in relation to the body's size. Healthy individuals from all the Homo Sapiens races seem to have a more or less uniform brain mass in relation to their body mass. So human babies seem to be the most intelligent beings on the planet. (Too bad they still keep making these baby T-shirts that are impossible to get through the baby's head)

So far there's no reason to believe that one race, ethnic group, national group or regional group is generally "more intelligent" than another. Furthermore it would at this point be very difficult to try and meassure intelligence from a regular human group, since most of the world's population suffers from malnutrition and chronic intoxication.

It might be important to notice that people do better in a test during rainy or snowy weather. I.Q. results depend on where the test is taken. Any Southern Italian, Namibian, Mexican and Arab will generally do a lot better taking an I.Q. test in say, Portland Oregon during November, than in their hot sunny regions. I wonder how Canadians and Northern Europeans would do in their I.Q. tests in different regions...
Perhaps the comparison is not the best, but it's a little like watching how a not so healthy Bolivian from La Paz climbs a stairway in Mexico City a lot easier than a healthy Dutch. Or how an big Alaskan man could be chest naked in California's Winter while a Cuban would thus freeze; but the Cuban could perhaps walk for miles in Summer Lybia, while the Alaskan would suffocate after only 1 or 2.
So who is more "resistant"? Impossible to know. It's only in relation to. What ethnic group is more intelligent...? I would never dare to say, because it would surely be a dogmatic stupidity.

no i don't said at March 23, 2010 7:41 PM:

Intelligence? Isn't it interesting how much we talk about what we don't really know? Linking "superior intelligence" to a particular ethnic group is a mistake many are still prone to.

I.Q. can measure intelligence only to a point. On this planet, species' intelligence has to do with brain mass in relation to the body's size. Healthy individuals from all the Homo Sapiens races seem to have a more or less uniform brain mass in relation to their body mass. So human babies seem to be the most intelligent beings on the planet. (Too bad they still keep making these baby T-shirts that are impossible to get through the baby's head)

So far there's no reason to believe that one race, ethnic group, national group or regional group is generally "more intelligent" than another. Furthermore it would at this point be very difficult to try and meassure intelligence from a regular human group, since most of the world's population suffers from malnutrition and chronic intoxication.

It might be important to notice that people do better in a test during rainy or snowy weather. I.Q. results depend on where the test is taken. Any Southern Italian, Namibian, Mexican and Arab will generally do a lot better taking an I.Q. test in say, Portland Oregon during November, than in their hot sunny regions. I wonder how Canadians and Northern Europeans would do in their I.Q. tests in different regions...
Perhaps the comparison is not the best, but it's a little like watching how a not so healthy Bolivian from La Paz climbs a stairway in Mexico City a lot easier than a healthy Dutch. Or how an big Alaskan man could be chest naked in California's Winter while a Cuban would thus freeze; but the Cuban could perhaps walk for miles in Summer Lybia, while the Alaskan would suffocate after only 1 or 2.
So who is more "resistant"? Impossible to know. It's only in relation to. What ethnic group is more intelligent...? I would never dare to say, because it would surely be a dogmatic stupidity.

Mark said at March 24, 2010 5:13 AM:

No I Dont,

It's clear you don't know anything about psychometrics. IQ tests, though imperfect, are the best estimate we have for general intelligence. IQ scores correlate with a host of things from educational attainment to amount of gray matter in the brain. The black-white IQ gap had been consistently verified over one hundred years of IQ testing.

no i don't said at March 25, 2010 9:13 AM:

So Mark, what is your IQ score?

Relax Mark, try to relax; I do agree that IQ tests are the best estimate we have for general intelligence and they correlate with a host of things. What I wrote does not contradict that. What I am saying is that even though IQ tests are the best estimate for measuring intelligence, they are accurate only to a point depending on other factors that nobody here seemed to have considered. IQ tests are now outdated, archaic for measuring intelligence -even if they are all we have and are "still the best estimate" for measuring intelligence.

Perhaps you think somebody has a lower intelligence just for being part of a particular ethnic group. Is that your point?, 'cause I mean, it is always easier to be dogmatic and reject a different explaination by propensity...

Do you remember the differences in IQ scores among great famous Physicists, Philosophers, Politicians? People who are considered to be more intelligent than the average get scores with differences greater among themselves than those among southern and northern Italians.

Now Mark if your IQ score is higher than that of regular mortals, I will find 100 ways in which you will score way, way lower given different situations and environments you are in at the moment you are taking it, like geographic context, emotional distress, room temperature, lack of sleep, excess caffeine, room ventilation, diet, sexual arousement, room humidity, excess of sweets, fasting, heartache, ball itching, etc, etc, etc,..,...,...,...,...

So relax Mark

JL said at March 26, 2010 4:01 PM:

"no i don't", like Mark said, you know nothing about IQ tests. To avoid further embarrassing yourself, read these two articles at least:

http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/taboos/wsj_main.html

http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/research/Correlation/Intelligence.pdf

Mark said at March 27, 2010 6:05 AM:

What does my IQ matter?? Really!

Anyway, how can IQ tests be both the best method we have for measuring intelligence and outdated/archaic?

To answer your question, no I don't think one person would have a higher IQ simply by being a member of a certain ethnicity. I'm not even sure what means.

no i don't said at March 27, 2010 5:34 PM:

"To avoid further embarrassing yourself, read these two articles at least"
ha, ha, ha Excuse me I meant HA, HA, HA. What makes you think I feel embarrassed by you or anybody here?
JL, You either have a huge narcissism or you are just another middle school kid who's grown up on video games, mcdonald's and coke, who's quick to pick up a fight anywhere you can.
C'mon kid, stop playing with daddy's lap top; time to do your homework!
It's so funny how much people talk about what they don't know.

--------------------------

Mark I now see we agree: "no I don't think one person would have a higher IQ simply by being a member of a certain ethnicity. I'm not even sure what means." That's exactly my point. Scores at an IQ tests could vary from human to human, mainly because of factors other than ethnic, national or racial "superiorities" in intelligence. That would be just to nazi.

It's just that some messages above in this section seem to reveal -willingly or not- a racist mentality, and what's worse a strange tendency to associate and believe that intelligence means ability to make money... (!?!)

NotProgressive said at March 27, 2010 9:26 PM:

It is interesting how people from low IQ groups take great umbrage when it is pointed out. My own group, the Scotch-Irish, don't do so well on IQ tests. My family members are a bunch of Hillbillies not known for becoming rocket scientists. Yet, I don't lie to myself and pretend the truth doesn't matter. You can go through life making belive and pretending things are a certain way, when demonstrably they are not. It is a form of insanity to live a life of make believe. Ashkenanzi Jews on average have the highest IQ's of any grouping. They also far outstrip any other racial grouping in many measures of success, both academic and economic.

Since I'm not Ashkenazi, and down quite a few IQ points from them, maybe I should go hang myself now? If you are Sicilian, or Portugese, or Mexican, or Turkish, or Arab, or Negro, or Filipino, or Malyasian, any number of people groups with an average two digit IQ, then so what. There are people walking the planet that are probably on average smarter than you. It is a good thing, because they are creating new inventions and mathematics and pushing mankind forward. The rest of us not in the intellectual elite, should try to play the cards we were dealt.

Race deniers are not using critical reasoning. The evidence that there is differences in the races is overwhelming. Evolutionary theory predicts it, and the objective evidence everywhere in life is proof.

In Mongrel countries, like the U.S. is becoming, IQ is beginning to stratify more along a College/No College boundary, rather than racial boundary. For example, Nerdy White Men are marrying Asian Women in high numbers, but their high IQ kids don't fit a common racial category. The future is sure to learn more about gene clusters and their impact, and those gene clusters are race specific. We better find a way to start talking about race because the future is almost here.

Moon said at July 22, 2013 1:02 AM:

I just love animals! And another news… I just found out that Manila Zoo has a cute elephant named Mali, and she is the only elephant in the Philippines! She has lived there for almost all of her lives, for more than 30 years. The zoo should feel like her sweet and cozy home now. But then, I read some articles in PETAAsiaPacific.com, and I noticed that Mali is in fact sad and lonely! Look at her here: https://www.facebook.com/FreeMali. She is like a prisoner, who cannot spend her days with her friends, roam in vast territories, and have delicious adequate food! She even suffers from foot problems. Why does she deserve this? :( Please Help Her!

vasu said at December 9, 2014 3:52 AM:

According to this international measure all we understand is that the standardization of the education is to be done in every countries. The proper classes and the teachers Birchmeier backpack sprayer will only help the students to learn to an extent.


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