When it comes to education, Finland has always been on the radar, with its educational system regarded as one of the best in the world. About 20 years ago, the country caught the world’s attention when its students scored the highest marks in an international test PISA.
Though it is no longer number one due to several factors, including an economic recession in 2008, the educational system still remains successful and desirable. This article delves into the Finnish educational system and the successes.
The myth about Finland’s School
- It is widely spread and believed that children in the country don’t do homework.
- The notion that Finnish authorities have replaced the subjects in the school curriculum with interdisciplinary projects or topics.
- The belief is that all schools are forced to follow a national curriculum and adopt a teaching method known as “phenomenon-based learning.”
All the above points are false, and a wrong interpretation of the real system practiced by Finland.
What is Finland’s secret to improving the fallen standard of education?
After the recession badly hit the educational system, the Finnish government started implementing some reforms to bring it back on track. A lot of research was done, and the outcome has been phenomenal. The country currently runs a child-centered and research-and-evidence-based educational system backed by highly professional teachers.
The Finnish state authorities in 2014 revised the national core curriculum (NCC) for primary education. It is aimed to improve the sector and regain its enviable glory. Though many experts have criticized the new policy and see it as a recipe for disaster, they haven’t taken the time to understand the parts teachers and schools play in their communities. Hence, understanding the fundamentals of the Finnish school system is critical in making a judgment about it.
The real picture of Finland’s new framework
- Before starting an academic year, schools in the various districts develop a local curriculum and the year’s work plan considering what the NCC stipulates. They do with oversight from the municipal authorities.
- Schools are not restricted in what they can teach or not under the NCC. They are free to plan their work schedules and what they seek to achieve. This virtually gives the schools autonomy in what curriculum to use, which may differ from school to school. Also, the practice in one school wouldn’t be the same in another.
However, the objectives of NCC at the school level is for children to
- Understand the connection and correlation between different learning concepts;
- To combine knowledge and skills acquired in different fields and make meanings out of it
- Application of knowledge acquired in school
Therefore, schools are meant to review their curricula to reflect the objectives of the NCC. The new policy also required schools to design an interdisciplinary project based on student’s interests for a minimum of one week.
There have been some fundamental challenges in implementing these policies. Also, some schools have shown a level of improvement, but others are lagging. Successful schools have managed to create opportunities for students to acquire new life skills.