CSUSB’s College of Education Speaker Series Features Leader of Finland’s Education Reform Movement, Pasi Sahlberg


By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Pasi Sahlberg, a leader in the educational reform movement that made Finland’s school system one of the best in the world, will be the featured speaker when Cal State San Bernardino’s College of Education hosts its 50th Anniversary Speaker Series on Friday, Jan. 22. Sahlberg, who is currently a Visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, will speak at 3:30 p.m. at the Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center, with livestreaming available at the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus’ Oliphant Auditorium.

Admission is free to the event, which is open to the public. The college will be accepting donations of new or gently used children’s books on behalf of its community partner, the Inland Empire Children’s Book Project. Book boxes will be located in the lobbies of both venues. Parking at CSUSB is free in Lot D and Parking Structure East.

Register in advance at the Speaker Series Online Registration website at http://50.csusb.edu/forms/speakerseries_jan_22.html.

The theme of the College of Education’s 50th Anniversary Speaker Series is “Reclaiming Excellence in Educator Preparation for Public Schools.” Sahlberg will speak on “Teacher Education Around the World: Facts and Myths About Great Teachers and How They Are Made.”

“What Dr. Sahlberg has to say is relevant to everyone in education, or those who have children in the school system,” said Mick Verdi, interim associate dean at CSUSB’s College of Education. “Dr. Sahlberg and all of our VIP guest speakers are internationally renowned and highly respected.  It is a privilege to have them visit CSUSB and participate in our 50th Anniversary celebration.”

Sahlberg has worked as a teacher, teacher educator, and policy adviser in Finland and was actively engaged in planning and implementing education reforms in Finland in the 1990s, which The Atlantic once dubbed “the Finnish miracle.” The country’s education system is highly regarded and has the results to support that.

Using the Program for International Student Assessment (a global standardized test for 15-year-olds) results, Finnish students were the best young readers in 2000, the best in math in 2003 and the best in science in 2006.

Such success has captured worldwide attention, with researchers and the media “trying to discover what they often refer to as the ‘secret’ or ‘miracle’ of Finnish education,” Sahlberg said in an April 2015 interview with The Huffington Post.

“One of the aspects that most of these external investigations have failed to reveal is that Finland’s success is often built on research, innovation and models from other countries, most often from the United States,” Sahlberg said in the interview. “Finnish people know very well that higher education and also academic research in the United States is world class. Therefore, American scholars and their writings … have been influential in building the much-admired school system in Finland.”

Sahlberg wrote about the reform effort in his book, “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland “(Teachers College Press, 2011), a bestseller that has been translated into 20 languages and honored with the 2013 Grawemeyer Award.

While at Harvard since January 2014, he has worked with graduate and doctoral students teaching courses about international educational change and how education policies and reforms can improve, and also harm, school systems, teachers and students in schools.

Among his many educational posts, since December 2009, Sahlberg has served as director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. He also worked for the European Training Foundation in Torino, Italy, as lead education specialist, offering policy advice to governments, schools and leaders to improve educational policies and practices.

Sahlberg received a bachelor of science in mathematics and physics in 1982 and master of science in mathematics in 1984, both from University of Turku, and Ph.D. in educational sciences from the University of Jyvaskylä in 1996. He also has a Teacher’s Diploma from the University of Helsinki in 1986.

Also scheduled in the speaker series, sponsored by Schools First Federal Credit Union:

March 18: “Fixing the Past or Inventing the Future: Education at a Crossroad,” by Young Zhao, a professor and presidential chair and director of the Institute for Global and Online Education, College of Education at the University of Oregon.

May 20:  “Retooling for the Future,” by Mary Vixie Sandy, executive director, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

For more information on the CSUSB College of Education 50th Anniversary Speaker Series, contact Mick Verdi, associate dean, at (909) 537-7530 or email mverdi@csusb.edu.

Set in the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, CSUSB is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in inland Southern California. Celebrating its 50thanniversary in 2015, CSUSB serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually.

For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.

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