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      Finnish Education Ambassador visits and educates at FinnFest

      Over the past ten years, Finland's education system has won numerous international awards.

      Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish Education Ambassador, travelled to FinnFest 2013 Wednesday to teach American teachers the unique tactics the Finnish use in the classroom.

      "There's another way to improve the quality and also equity of education systems. Finland represents a very different way of thinking about education," said Sahlberg.

      The Finnish Dream, as Sahlberg calls it, is what Finland hopes to accomplish through education. Their message is: 'All children, regardless of family background or personal conditions, should have a good school in their community.'

      In order to achieve this dream, Finland has free K-12 public education throughout the nation.

      Their style of education varies much from the United States, as well.

      "Our education policies contradict the U.S. Our kids start school late, there's not much homework, no standardized testing. School days are rather short, and arts, they are a natural part of the curriculum," said Jukka Pietikainen, Finland's Consul General.

      Yet Finnish children have a higher success rate in school; Finland is one of the highest-scoring Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development countries in the world.

      Sahlberg says recess, or learning about the world through one's own eyes and through play, is a key factor.

      "Look again at how important it is that children have recess in school between the lessons, so they have time to go out and play and do their own things. It's breaking my heart when I visit schools here and I see the children don't really have time anymore," Sahlberg said.

      But Sahlberg believes there is still much hope for the public school system here in the U.S., if tactics are changed.

      "I would like the people who leave this symposium to leave with a little more hope of things and rethink things like standardized testing or accountability or role of competition, or even the role of technology in education," Sahlberg.

      At the end of the day, the ultimate lesson everyone should remember is that Americans can take away from the Finnish and the Finnish can take away from the Americans in the realm of education.