01/12/2015 01:32 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2015

Finnish Schools Are On The Move -- And America's Need To Catch Up

Miodrag Gajic via Getty Images

Before I started teaching at a Finnish public school, I taught first graders in Arlington, Massachusetts. And I had a sharp-eyed mentor teacher named Joanna.

"Psst. Can I speak with you for a second?" Joanna pulled me aside during a lunch break. She wasn’t wearing her characteristic smile. "Tim, please don’t be offended by what I’m about to say, but whenever I peek into your classroom, you always seem to be sitting down with your first graders on the rug." The criticism stung—not because it was off-target, but because I knew it was true.

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