The Bulletin

How do Finnish Schools Excel? A Comparison to Waldorf Education

Monday, March 2014


Chicago Waldorf School long-time veteran grade school teacher, Carol Triggiano, reflects on some of the similarities between the core principles of Waldorf Education and the Finnish educational system that makes them such vibrant, successful and widely respected educational models. In her article, she writes,

"I recently heard Pasi Sahlberg, director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation in Finland’s Ministry of Education, speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival about why Finland ranks first with the best school system in the world. His best-selling book, Finnish Lessons, has inspired educators and parents to reevaluate how we educate children and has prompted discussion on how we can institute change. While Sahlberg’s ideas seem radical in the light of American standards, they reaffirmed to me the value of a Waldorf education.

Sahlberg compared the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) to a cancerous virus that has spread worldwide. Over the last forty years schools have operated on a philosophy that promotes ideas such as, competition, standardization, test based accountability and education as an industry.

That approach has netted us an overall decrease in skills, a huge jump in the ADHD diagnoses, children on medication and an alarming increase in adolescent suicide. Something clearly is not working.

Sahlberg went on to describe how the “Finnish way” has transformed their educational system into the pinnacle of success. I would like to compare how Waldorf education has been following most of these key principles for almost one hundred years..."


Triggiano goes on to catalogue about 10 commonly held core values that have been essential to Waldorf education since its founding in 1917. To read her perspective in its entirety SEE THE PDF linked above.