Before the fall of the wall, it was common to use the expression “Finlandization” to describe a process of defense dependent on a very powerful and potentially invasive neighbor. During the Cold War Finland entered into a series of amicable agreements and trade concessions that ensured that it no longer became a satellite republic of the Soviet Union. For a small population, in this country then geographically strategic and coveted by a potential enemy, this sacrifice allowed the development of a continuous plan of investments in education. In this way, a period of calculated suspension of external sovereignty was exchanged for a future based on internal sovereignty.
Five years ago, Finland took first place in PISA, an international exam that measures basic education results. A recent expedition of Brazilian educators observed that these results can teach us the opposite of what it seems. First of all, this is not the result of any revolutionary teaching method or the massive supply of technological resources. Instead of worrying about making the best, even better, the Finns bet on the idea of bringing those who were behind, to the front. Instead of controlling teachers with infinite planning and reports, they transferred great autonomy to the teacher, with a small, clear and well-defined minimum curriculum. Their autonomy involves, for example, the differential choice of literacy method, according to the child, the definition of the work group on each project, and even the curricular path to be followed. Instead of blaming teachers for the lack of training, they invested in long and coveted courses so that someone could become a professor of physics or chemistry, literature or the fine arts. There are no tests or selective exams, but a continuous interaction between the teacher and the student, which gives him the authority to discuss professional choices, medical matters and family decisions on an individual basis. From this coexistence, the school becomes a permanent support and resource for the student life project. In other words, all the problems, as well as the solutions, which include, but are not reduced to, their professional project or their learning relationship, pass through the teacher. Despite this, there are clear choices. In the first year of high school, they can choose between academic education and the immediate start of practical training. In this second case, he will study in real workshops, for example, car repair, which serve the population by providing general services. All party associations have a guaranteed seat on the councils and teaching bodies, and their reformulation is independent of the general elections and, consequently, of the alternation of interests of those in power.
The great Finnish lesson is not in its organization. Those fascinated by importing solutions will be dismayed by the fact that Finland has 5.5 million inhabitants, 3 million in the capital Helsinki. There are a total of 56 schools, the largest with 4 students. Comparing this problem with the Brazilian scale, with all its extension and diversity, is not only unfair, but it also leads us to the error of trying to reproduce similar conditions, such as 25 students per class, hyper-qualified training, practical teaching (which involves huge expenses with the construction of workshops) instead of looking at the reasons that produced this state of affairs. Once there, you immediately understand the reasons: free education for all, at all levels; little social inequality, so that the richest and the poorest do not overlap those who go to university and those who go to practical education. The magical result seems to emanate from the following decisive factor: social recognition given to teachers. Teachers' salaries are slightly below the national average, but the decisive fact is that the difference between the highest and lowest salaries is relatively small.
Now let's turn our eyes to the current process of upside-down Finlandization of Brazilian education. It is based on the creation of a great internal enemy: indolent professors, who do not fulfill what is expected of them, elitist left-wing university students and other socially unqualified people. Once this powerful internal enemy is created, a significant number of external concessions must be made to maintain our dependence on commercial interests. Let's remember the case of Kroton, owned by a politician with federal transit, a business that grew the most in Brazil in the last decade, reaching a value of 5 billion reais thanks to massive state funding via FIES.
We create a situation of distance and impersonality that contribute to the recurring violence between students and teachers
We heavily control the daily lives of our teachers without offering any strategic plan for excellence, progression or continuing education. We pay poorly and worse, we understand that this expense is an expense, a burden for the rest of society. We cut research funding by destroying hard-won investments over decades. We closed first-level faculties, rare and difficult to build, such as UERJ. We saturate our teachers with two or three jobs instead of letting them participate more in their students' lives. We create a situation of distance and impersonality that contribute to the recurring violence between students and teachers. We encourage the judicialization of school relationships, if not their militarization as we see in the state of Goiás, destroying any sense of community and discharging our teachers of any autonomy. While in Finland medicalization is a side problem, here the contractualist and controlling logic causes problems of learning, adaptation and inclusion to be sent to another department (the doctor), with which we have no relationship other than the transfer of problems. and the cleansing of conscience. Instead of making our teachers social agents to understand and face misery, material and cultural, participating in the lives of their students, we inflate their profession with curricular obligations, messianic hopes and hatred for “ill-structured” families. While we have to fight an excrescence called no party school, the Finns invented the principle of school for all parties.
Recognition is a substance that is produced while it is practiced and whose result depends on how it is practiced. The constitutive recognition of teachers stems from the fact that they represent the “rule of the game”. They are the faithful depositaries of the values that are ours, notably in the idea that they convey to students the promise that another world is possible and desirable. So the way we recognize our teachers is also the way they will recognize their students. But the regulatory recognition of teachers stems from how they are currently and definitely being recognized. This goes through a minister of education who is not recognized by his peers. This goes through a high school reform project that, regardless of mistakes or successes, came out of a bureaucrat's pocket in the final moments, after almost a decade being discussed by educators. Lack of money is not an excuse for mistreatment and scarcity of resources does not justify a lack of recognition, in fact the African case is exemplary in this regard. How about learning something from Finland? Today's sacrifice must be in the name of a better future tomorrow. How about following the Finnish principles of equality, gratuity, autonomy, commonality and practicality in education instead of slogans like austerity, spending and expenditure, control and competition?
In other words, a State that does not recognize its own regulatory processes, that wants to make itself “owner of the ball” and “lord of the rules of the game” is practicing a finlandization in reverse, even with the applause of ignorant elites or by the grace of the new Brazilian-style irrationalism.