While reading an Atlantic article on the Finnish education system, I came across this fascinating bit of information: there is no word in Finnish for “accountability.” According to Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education’s Center for International Mobility:
Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.
There is a profound cultural statement contained in that missing word. With its massive tort system and litigious society, the U.S. is all about accountability. Responsibility, not so much.
The article is worth a read, as it dissects one of the most startling aspects of Finland’s successful educational system: it was never designed for excellence. It was designed for equality. Yet somehow, that equality led to consistent academic achievement. Imagine that.