Finland already has a relatively unorthodox schooling system in that it is free, highly decentralised, kids don’t start school until they are seven, and their grading system works differently so that they rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
The country’s avant-garde system has been looked upon by other countries with a sort of distant admiration – many nations appreciate its phenomenal success but wouldn’t quickly adopt if for themselves. Regardless, of whether it could be implemented elsewhere, the Finnish education system has helped them achieve record high rates of literacy and numeracy.
But the country has just announced another education reform to set them apart, stipulating that they will no longer teach subjects.
Now don’t lose your head, this isn’t quite as crazy as it might initially sound. Finland has now opted for a system which focuses on interdisciplinary, cross-cutting topics rather that your traditional subjects of History, English or Maths.
So rather than attending subject specific lessons, Finnish pupils will be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union, which would combine aspect of Economics, Geography and Languages. Another example would be Cafeteria Services, which would integrate mathematics, technology and communication skills.
The format of the classes will also become more collaborative rather than passive. So instead of sitting around listening to a teacher babble out information, students will be encouraged to work together to discuss and solve problems.
The goal is to have all Finnish schools embrace the new system by 2020. To teach older teachers the new method, Finnish schools are facilitating co-teaching opportunities in which teachers from different subjects come together to create thematic units that merge learning from each of their specialties. Many schools have already been experimenting with this cross-disciplinary approach for a few months of each school year.
The new National Curriculum Framework was revealed by Helsinki’s head of youth and adult education, Liisa Pohjolainen. She said: “This is going to be a big change in education in Finland that we’re just beginning.”
Helsinki’s development manager Pasi Silander also supports the changes: “What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life.
“We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society”.
The change is all about teaching Finnish youth integrated knowledge and skills about real world issues. They hope to ultimately make learning more meaningful for students.
While some have remarked that it could be unnecessary to change what is already one of the top education systems in the world, this constant adaptation is likely the reason for their quality schooling. Finland constantly remains a pioneer in education and always reflects contemporary trends and caters to the real world needs of their youth.
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