No, Teachers In Finland Are Not Paid Like Doctors, But That’s Not Even The Problem Here.

It seems that no matter how many times you say “hey, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet,” the message still fails to be received. The internet as we know it (sorta) is a quarter of a century old, and yet, we still don’t know how to use it.

Given that it has been in circulation for years, most of you have probably seen this meme on facebook, or twitter, or reddit, or wherever.


Let’s clear this up once and for all:

Teachers in Finland are not paid like doctors. The average teacher in Finland makes between $30,000 and $45,000 a year (depending on type and experience) while the average general practitioner makes about $70,000 (about half of what doctors in America make).

In fact, teachers in Finland are not even paid as well as teachers in America.

Here. I made a chart for you.


As you can see, the average American public school teacher makes more—significantly more—than a similar teacher in Finland, whether he is teaching grade school, middle school, high school, is new to the classroom, experienced, or retiring. So if we’re going to mimic the Finnish school system, I guess we should be paying our teachers less, right?

But ya know what? This is not a post about preferential forms of public education. This is not a post about the supremacy or inadequacy of American education.

No. There is a bigger problem here.

I am not dismayed that the meme is wrong. I expected that. I am dismayed that it has gained such widespread support and traction on social media sites. I have seen it posted dozens of times on my Facebook newsfeed alone, and have yet to see one person post an article debunking it (they exist).

So this article is about the dire need for people to learn to employ the informative tools at their disposal.

How was I able to figure out within minutes of seeing the meme that its claims are blatantly false? Well, aside from the fact that the Cato Institute debunked the silly meme years ago, I figured it out because I looked up data on teacher salaries!

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) keeps digital records of that sort of thing, along with many other sorts of things. In this table, from which I drew the data, they list the average starting, 15-year, and maximum salaries for teachers in public institutions in a lot of countries as of 2011. Clear as day. How do I know this is credible data? Well, I don’t know 100%. But I can get a pretty good idea based on their citations, and methodology.

And ya know what? There are hundreds of other credible websites with raw data on a variety of topics. All you need to do is learn to navigate them.

So this is a plea of sorts, a plea to my peers: Don’t fall victim to the trolls and crooks of the internet. Learn to use the wealth of information that exists on the webisphere.  

If you’re a little dubious of claims made in an article, meme, etc… there is likely some credible data out there that will confirm or negate your suspicions. Not comfortable with raw data? At the very least do a Google search. If it’s false, there is a good chance someone has debunked it. Of course, you can’t trust all opposing articles, which is why learning to find the info and weigh the facts yourself is so important.

The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of bad information out there. Remember that anyone with internet access is capable of creating a meme, or writing an article—without credibility, or accountability. The result is that…well, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. But you can determine what is true and what is false with a degree of certainty. Shoot for a degree of certainty before you post.



  1. Great post! And so true: You can’t believe everything you see/read on the Internet. There are always opposing opinions, and sometimes the facts are completely overlooked.


  2. It’s amazing how people seem to ignore how quick and easy it is to debunk these things. Most of the time you can enter the meme into Google verbatim and the top few hits will be articles disproving that information, and usually you can gather the information you need in the summary without ever clicking into the article. I think people just need something to be outraged about and want something to say. Those little memes passed around on social media gives them a ready made platform to stand on and instant attention with the least amount of work for it.

    Anyway, just stumbled on your blog and enjoy what I’ve seen, keep it up!


    1. Thanks for stopping by! And I couldn’t agree more. There is some insatiable desire for outrage that seems to blind people. There is little interest in truth, but a lot of interest of in saying stuff.


  3. Considering the amount of education required in becoming a teacher, Finland pays spectacularly little. Yet it is still surprisingly popular career choice and many young teachers find it hard to find employment. It is probably the popularity of the profession that allows the state to pay as much as they please. Finnish education system has been glorified to excess but this meme has been the worst I’ve seen so far. Thank you, it was a good read.


  4. Brilliant and very informative. I think sometimes people decide to ask someone else as they can be lazy of trying to find out themselves. Ive done it before I know that. Strange thing is that with the speed and wealth of information on the net its probably quicker to search the answer yourself anyway! 🙂


  5. While I love Facebook, I often groan when friends I respect repeat memes or articles which went viral and were debunked over a year ago. These pithy statements of supposed fact are so often wrong.


  6. Most of the internet, books, what is on television can be questioned. We are in a a sea of miscommunication. Agendas abound and miscues are out there. Who do we believe and why is a great question.


  7. Reblogged this on LIFE ON A CHANGING PLANET and commented:
    Information collected from one thought and an individual brain shall always be debated in some manner by the opposing or changing values of the next generations interests.The web was apparently developed by the military for another purpose and turned millions of minds into one single annonymous brain.


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