The Finnish education system is famous for its one-of-a-kind approach to learning and student well-being, getting students ready to grow, respecting individual development, and valuing teachers' expertise more than stressing over standardized tests and competition.
Plus, they really love letting students play and enjoy the outdoors. And you know what? It works! Students in Finland are super happy!
Photo via this is Finland / Riku Isohella /Velhot Photography Oy
Here's what sets them apart.
Early Development and Play
Finnish children don't start formal education until they are seven years old. Before this, the emphasis is on creative play, especially outdoors, fostering physical, social, and creative skills. The parents balance this gentle start with an innovative combination of learning and play in later years, blending 45 minutes of instruction with 15 minutes of recess! This approach keeps students engaged, active, and more attuned to learning.
Teacher Quality and Status
Finnish teachers are among the best-qualified in the world, all holding master's degrees and undergoing a rigorous selection process. Their elevated status in society is similar to that of doctors and lawyers in other countries and reflects the immense value placed on education. Teachers are given autonomy and trust, with no grading system for their performance and a professional environment that encourages continuous development and innovation.
Equality and Individual Attention
Philosophy, equality, and individual attention for students is a widespread sentiment in Finland. There are no private or selective schools, ensuring equal opportunities for all students. Individual support is paramount, recognizing that each child has unique needs and learning styles. Even so, mixed-ability classes are emphasized as the teachers support the balance of student workload with discovery time and self-care. Minimal homework and a personalized approach to learning for each child ensure that all Finnish students can progress at their own pace while receiving the support they need.
Unique Curriculum and Assessment Methods
Contributing to their educational philosophy and personalized approach, the Finnish system's curriculum and assessment methods also contribute to its success. Instead of multiple standardized tests, students take one significant exam at the end of their schooling.
They believe this reduces stress and competition, allowing students to focus on learning and understanding. The flexible national curriculum allows teachers to adapt their teaching methods and content to suit their students' needs, encouraging a more engaging and relevant learning experience.
With 93% of students completing high school, the Finnish education system shines in its commitment to early development, teacher quality, equality, innovative curriculum, and successful outcomes. The Finnish believe their students emerge prepared to face real-world challenges with a strong foundation in language, critical thinking, and problem-solving, a result of their personalized approach with an emphasis on self-care.