Finland has gotten a lot of good press in recent years because of the success of their schools. All their schools. That is, across the board Finnish school seem to be thriving. In fact, although Finnish students start later and spend less time at school than most developed nations, they’re children score at or near the top of all nations on tests of math, science, and reading.
How have they done this?
Several things things stand out in the following video:
There is a high value placed on teaching and on teachers. Teacher are important members of the community.
Students are taught collaboratively rather the competitively. That means students are not separated out by ability. Students who are more talented in one area or another are invited to teach and help those who are struggling. This way, not only do they learn the subject better – you never learn more about something than when you teach it – but they also develop important social skills.
They focus not only on math and science but also privilege languages – most Finnish kids learn three languages in school – and the arts. Music isn’t a detractor from getting better at math, that is, but an aid.
Education in general is valued highly in Finnish culture. That means, among other things, that 1) they are willing to make education a priority in their budgets and 2) parents take an active interest in their children’s education. Education, in fact, beings in the home and is continued in school.
Some point to the relatively homogeneity of Finnish culture – fewer immigrants and less issues of language – and less economic stratification (which is, of course, also a budget and taxation priority), but the remarkable thing about Finland is that all their schools do well, not just some. Which mean, I think, there’s a lot we can learn from them.
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If, after watching the following BBC video you want to learn more, you can read these articles: “What American’s Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success” in The Atlantic and “Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful” in the Smithsonian.