What Finland Can Teach Us About Education

February 13, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2016

Finland’s education system is one that many countries aspire to match on the results boards. With a more relaxed approach and teachers who are thoroughly committed to getting kids the highest results, it’s no wonder they are doing so well.

Children really are considered to be ‘the future’ in Finland. However, they don’t start school until the age of seven, they enjoy shorter school hours, longer playtimes and less homework but are still coming up top in the grade charts.

There are also no standardised tests, no gifted programmes and no private schools, an issue we are currently debating here in the UK when it comes to the notion of introducing more grammar schools, by certain political parties.

In this country selective education is a breeding ground for class separation and self hate in children, so it is easy to see why Finland has scrapped such institutions in place of a fairer system – something we perhaps need to take note of.

Finnish education breaks the rules of what is considered the norm but it works. It is based on equality, schools are publically funded and run by education experts rather than politicians looking only at results and figures. Finnish schools also do not hold children back or kick them out if they do not achieve. Pupils are not just grade statistics.

This method obviously works, because Finnish children rank highly when tested in literacy, numeracy and problem solving. In 2013, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development carried out one of the largest ever studies on the basic skills of the adult population – and Finland scored at or near the top on everything with only Japan beating them in numeracy and literacy. This suggests that their education has carried on through effectively to later life.

Finland is also teaching children important life skills; the school system’s Don’t Feed the Garbage Goblin campaign has encouraged children to only take as much food as they can eat at lunch, with the aim to significantly reduce bio waste. One school managed to reduce its waste by 45.5%. It’s something our schools should take on as well as children who eat school dinners regularly leave what they don’t like or can’t manage to eat.

Teachers in Finnish schools are selected from only the top 10% of graduates and must also complete a Masters degree to qualify. This is something the UK could take on board and goes against the age old idiom of ‘those who can, do, those who can’t, teach’. Too many people still falsely see the profession as a soft job that lets you enjoy too much holiday and shorter working hours.

 

The Finnish system only allows the best to make it to a permanent teaching role and these individuals will more than likely have the most positive impact on a class. Teachers are pooled from one resource, meaning that every school – no matter where in the country it is based – can have the best teachers and break down social barriers, meaning working class pupils can still enjoy high a quality education.

 

So if you’ve been inspired by how the Finnish treat education and schooling then why not join them? Sites such as EduStaff regularly feature international teaching posts for people looking to work in a more positive environment, teaching children who have been encouraged to learn from a young age.

 

Alternatively, instead of upping and leaving, effect the change you want to see and simply take notes on how it’s done over in Finland.