BY MYRON PENWELL
Finland has once again decided to revamp their school system, incorporating subjects that have a broad range of topics that they believe are more relevant to the world today. The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) will introduce broader topics such as: The European Union, Climate Change and Community.
Throughout the years Finland has been a country who has had a different approach to teaching by: not admitting children into schools until they are 7-years-old, an approach to the schools system which offers equal education for all, cutting school hours in half, longer recess time, little homework to their students and having no standardized testing of students until the age of 16.
Despite spending less money on average in comparison to other developed countries, Finland has consistently ranked high on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). In 2009 Finland ranked No.6 in math, No.3 in reading, and No.2 in science. Although dropping in recent years, Finland has still maintained a high ranking in the most recent PISA results, ranking No.13 in math, No.4 in reading, and No.5 in science. This unique approach that Finland has taken in regard to their education system, has had a positive effect on the students ability to learn.
Prior to the change, the Finnish education system has not always done so well, “Finland had been traditionally thought of as the lowest achieving country in Scandinavia, and one of the lower achieving ones in Europe for a very long time. It was not a highly developed education system,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, the co-director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy.
In an attempt to improve their students performance, Finland decided to emphasize certain aspects of their education system in order to improve the learning experience of their students. One of the first things that Finland has done was give an equal opportunity for all students to receive an education despite their economic background, it does not matter if your from a low class or high class background the education you will receive will be the same.
Being a teacher is a highly respectable career in Finland, and the process of becoming one is very difficult with only 1 in 10 applicants getting accepted into their teaching programs. Finnish schools tend to focus on patience, problem solving and hands on learning rather then lectures, test preparation and memorization. Rather than cramming many subjects into their students brains, they take things slow and focus on fewer topics into more depth.
Finland continues to strive to find more innovations for their school system, and tries to base it on the modern world that we live in today. This belief is stated by Irmeli Halinen, Head of curriculum development with Finnish National Board of Education: “We are often asked why improve the system that has been ranked as top quality in the world. But the answer is: because the world is changing. We have to think and rethink everything connected to school. We also have to understand that competencies needed in society and in working life have changed.”