1. We have some private schools too like the Waldorf/Steiner school and they receive support from the state, but they are not allowed to cheat on quality. What we want to avoid is the "education for profit" problem, think Trump university sham.

  2. its so funny to see how foreigners consider headlines like "joyfull classrooms" to be so unsual or esoteric, that it need
    to be stressed out and repeated.

    Brits will never get it, they whole society is entrenched in class differences… upper class lower class… cambridge or leeds

    if you dont have a hollistic look at the countries culture, you will never be able to emulate the education system.

    Finnland has no classes. Equality (man <-> woman or worker <-> academic) is nothing special here.

    The kids dont vandalize trains… they dont give teachers a hard time… the culture between youth and next generation is
    not generally disrespectful or even hostile – as i have seen and witnessed in germany, england or the us.

  3. I am an 85 year old retired clinical psychiatrist who never stops being enchanted with Finland’s processes of educating, and how I might use them to educate myself. I start my day with 15 minutes of socializing with the outside world, including the people and other creatures, especially their dogs, the birds, and the foliage, the seasonal changes, connecting as many of the dots as I can, and being one of the dots. Even though my memory is failing, I never lose my ability to learn, and the importance of drilling. Much of my learning is, of course, relearning. Mental losses are very common, and puzzles never cease to be a challenge. Learning in small groups is thrilling. Taught in Finland has been wonderful and arousing, and I am ever so ready to dive into your YouTube version. Oh yes, after each 45 minutes of learning inside, it it time to have another 15 minutes outside, as in Finland.

  4. Can we learn from Finland ?
    Finland performs much better than England and the USA in the PISA test. In this international test the students have to apply their knowledge in novel situations. It seems that their average pupils achieve comparatively higher scores than those in other countries. Does this reflect Goverment directives, the headteacher, the teachers, teaching methods, continual assessment, revision methods or parental involvement?

    At the Government level …
    The Government in Finland introduced a law so that all children have a 15 minute break after 45 minutes of teaching.
    The Government decided on mixed ability classes.
    The Government sets out a curriculum that is short with only a few pages of text per subject. The curriculum is not overwhelming, leaving time in the year for teachers to plan local activities and innovate.
    The Government approves science and mathematics textbooks that have been tried and tested in schools. Textbooks have teacher guides and these provide lesson plans for teachers for every term. They also contain extension material, printouts and projects. Textbooks are supplemented with free internet material.
    The Government directs examination boards to set questions that assess the understanding of concepts and their application in novel situations rather than just factual recall. The application of knowledge (problem solving) is a higher order of skill in Blooms Taxonomy of Learning. There is a minimum reliance on multiple choice questions as these are viewed as only useful for testing factual recall.
    The Government believes that SATs testing is unnecessary as continual assessment provides sufficient data about pupil attainment.
    The Government is now reviewing the curriculum to periodically introduce topics that require strategies which are needed in modern industry, such as working together and creativity.

    At the Headteacher level…
    The school day is organised with one hour periods and each period includes a lesson of 45 minutes and a 15 minute break. There are also morning and afternoon 15 minute coffee breaks and a lunch hour.
    The Head meets with teachers in an interview every term to discuss class progress, any problems with individual pupils, innovations, new topics etc.
    There are no heads of department and one teacher is given responsibility for ordering equipment, materials etc.
    The Head is responsible for standards and these are checked yearly by the government who give an examination to a few pupils in a year group. School inspectors can visit if results are unsatisfactory.
    Poorly performing pupils or gifted pupils are interviewed with their parents, the class teacher, a school psychologist and a social worker present.
    The Head provides an academic route or a vocational route for pupils aged 13+.
    The Head insists that good discipline is introduced quickly in the school and is effective at an early age. Head teachers believe that learning cannot occur if minor disruption occurs in lessons.

    At the teacher level…
    Teachers enjoy their jobs and few leave teaching.
    Teachers know the abilities of their mixed ability class and have the same pupils all day and every day. Poor behaviour can be remedied quickly in such a situation and discipline is good.
    Teachers on exchange visits comment that lessons are not drastically different to those in their countries and comment that Finnish teachers are not ‘super teachers’.
    A common lesson format is a period of teacher talk followed by the pupil reading the textbook and answering some factual recall and problem solving questions. A short test is then used to monitor learning in the lesson. In summary, passive learning is followed by active learning and a short test gives immediate feedback. Teacher talk probably accounts for 15 minutes in the lesson.
    Teachers are trained to monitor learning effectively with short tests in every lesson and termly tests. The results for the latter are used for grades (these are entered into a national database). This is continual assessment.
    Teachers keep the same class for many years and know pupil strengths and weaknesses (upper secondary pupils aged 13+ are taught by subject specialists).
    Teachers teach all subjects and introduce cross curricular projects which are also given a grade.
    Teachers keep a portfolio of children’s work and comment on this frequently. New targets are set after a discussion with the pupil.
    Teachers set a short homework every week and pupils mark their own homework in class as the teacher goes through the marking scheme. Pupils have to comment on their results and results are entered into the national database. If no homework is done this is also recorded.
    Teachers use textbooks and the teacher guide lesson plans daily. They feel there is no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’.
    Teachers are expected to design a new topic for lessons at the end of the year and show their creativity to the Headteacher.

    At the pupil level…
    Pupils enter the classroom and take off their shoes.
    Pupils listen, read their textbook and answer questions, write summaries and are tested in every lesson.
    Pupils keep a portfolio of work and are self critical about their own work using a proforma.
    Pupils say they appreciate the regular 15 minute breaks every hour.
    Pupils work well and quietly in class for 45 minutes.
    Pupils conduct peer to peer tests as a revision process before end of term tests. A bright pupil is paired with a less able pupil. Each pupil has to explain a concept to the other pupil and they persist until mastery is achieved.
    Older pupils do online guided projects using school computers and use a special program that has prompts. Some homework involves using the internet for research.

    Parents receive a form at the end of term which provides the grade for the end of term tests. They have to sign this and return it to the school.
    Parents attend parents’ evenings.
    Parents are satisfied that homework is brief (sometimes less than 30 minutes per week) and realise that children need time to have hobbies and interests.
    Some parents do not like the idea of peer to peer revision as it seems that the bright pupil is being used as a teacher. They want their bright pupils to do extra studies. Schools believe that this method benefits both abilities.
    Parents can see test results on a national database.
    Parents can be contacted by teachers using mobile phone messages if progress is slow or behaviour is poor.
    Parents buy school workbooks and textbooks. These are used daily in class and parents can see that their children are getting a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum.
    Parents do not make sandwiches for their children. Pupils receive a free meal at school and they are not allowed off site to buy junk food.

    It would seem that there are many similarities and differences between Finnish education and that of other countries. There is certainly no one silver bullet for success. Finnish success has been achieved by implementing a complex well organised system. The major factors are:-

    1. At the classroom level the most obvious difference is the typical lesson plan which is composed of a short teacher talk phase (15 mins), an active learning phase using textbook questions to enhance learning and a short test phase to provide feedback to the learner and the teacher.
    3. The use of continuous assessment is another important difference in that Finnish pupils are regularly made accountable for their own learning through lesson tests, termly tests, portfolios and self assessment proformas.
    5. Finnish examination questions are also different to questions in the UK in that copious text is initially provided and this must be analysed by pupils. Questions then require the pupil to apply concepts. Teachers incorporate this type of question into their lessons and problem solving becomes a regular learning activity for pupils.

    The three factors above could easily be implemented in any country that is considering curriculum change. I believe that they are fundamental to the success of Finland in PISA.

    Further reading…
    ‘Cleverlands’ by Lucy Crehan on Kindle.
    Lucy Crehan was a science teacher who taught in several countries to understand their success. She wrote a book called ‘Cleverlands’ and there is a long chapter on the Finnish educational system.

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