34 thoughts on “Why Education in Finland Works”

  1. Where are the Immigrant children and the children whose parents struggle to put bread on the table? How do these Teachers cope with pupils who line up at lunchtime for their dose of Ritalin? Does the Finnish curriculum enforce the teachings of gender equality such as children can have two mommies or two daddies? Maybe Finland has not been corrupted yet.

  2. The value and self worth are the most important things in this profession and indeed Finland is doing great in this sector.
    I wish, it becomes universal.

  3. International studies once showed that Finnish student performance was below average. The Government wanted improvement and sent educators around the world to see what worked in other countries. The government decided to abolish their selective system and grammar schools were replaced with comprehensive schools. The Government decided to have mixed ability classes with no streaming or setting.

    The Government introduced a law so that all children have a 15 minute break after 45 minutes of teaching. This prevents cognitive overload for pupils and teachers. It also provides time for the teacher to speak to misbehaving pupils and achieve good discipline.

    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 set out the number of hours of study per subject per year after a consultation process with teachers every ten years.

    The Government works with Universities to implement teacher training. Teacher training stresses the implementation of active learning strategies, monitoring, feedback and the idea of the teacher as a researcher.
    ‘Class teachers’ are trained to teach pupils between the ages of 7 to 13. They teach all subjects (Finnish, Swedish, Maths, Music, PE, Art, RE, Science and English) in a mixed ability class with less than 20 pupils. They keep the same class from year to year and soon know the pupils that need extra support. Science is taught to very young pupils as environmental science. This allows the opportunity for outdoor education, more relevance and integration with geography. The national curriculum for older primary pupils directs them to study ‘biology with geography’ and ‘physics with chemistry’.
    ‘Subject teachers’ teach pupils aged 13+ and science now becomes chemistry, physics and biology. 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’ but are very involved with individual pupil learning and pupil progress. Lessons have mixed activities with a focus on checking that learning has been successful. Teacher talk (passive learning) is balanced by pupil activities (active learning such as reading new text, careful annotation of text for key words and definitions, memorisation of these, making flashcards, making simple mind maps to plan essays and writing clearly and concisely). The Finnish lesson often ends with a short written test. Peer to peer discussions are sometimes used and a bright pupil is paired with a less able pupil and each has to explain what they have learned in the lesson. Continuous assessment for an older secondary school pupil using a textbook involves a range of assessments:-
    1. Attendance and behaviour …10%
    2. Homework …20%
    3. Short tests at the end of each textbook chapter (one page of questions) …30%
    4. An end of term test includes one question from each chapter (or an essay) and an extra ‘problem solving’ question. The latter is very difficult for pupils and it tests the ability to apply a concept in a novel situation …40%
    Teachers enjoy their jobs and few leave teaching. Girls and boys state they are very satisfied with their wellbeing in PISA studies. Finland is consistently towards the top in PISA tests for educational attainment.

    The Government approves science and mathematics textbooks for older pupils 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. Parents pay for these textbooks. Parents also pay for laptop computers for older pupils. These pupils do projects and research on the internet. Other pupils and the teacher comment critically on their progress at weekly presentations and a project may last for three weeks. It is assessed on a scale of 10 (excellent) to 4 (fail) by the teacher.

    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 possibility of guessing also reduces the reliability of this type of test.
    The Government believes that SATs testing is unnecessary as continual assessment provides sufficient data about pupil attainment.

    The Government introduced several layers of accountability. Pupils are made accountable to teachers through continuous assessment. Continuous assessment involves short tests periodically and end of term tests for all subjects. Copies of marked papers are sent home and parents have to sign a document to say they have read the report. Teachers input grades into a national database called WILMA. Teachers discuss pupil progress, behavioural problems and innovations with the headteacher every term. Parents can be invited to the school to discuss issues and the school psychologist and school social worker may be involved. The headteacher is made aware of their own school progress through external government tests. These do not occur every year for every school. Tests only examine a 10% sample of Finnish schools when pupils are 12 (end of primary school) and 15 (end of middle school). Pupils are informed of the test on the day and not before. For example English may be tested at 12 and Mathematics may be tested at 15. The school results are not published. The tests are designed to test whether pupils have reached a minimum standard rather than being designed to rank pupils. They give feedback as to how well the national curriculum is being implemented. Inspectors can visit and support a school if results are poor.

    The Government is now reviewing the curriculum to periodically introduce topics that require strategies which are needed in modern industry, such as working together, confidence with IT and creativity. It is compulsory to have one cross curricular project in each class in each year. Environmental studies are popular.

    The Government spends much less on education than many other countries despite having small class sizes and insisting that schools often provide extra support for the less able in the classroom. Schools also employ a psychologist and a social worker and these may be shared in rural areas. Finland does not have the enormous expense involved in SAT testing and the cost of hundreds of Government school inspectors. Finland does not have the huge costs involved for a national test in all subjects at 16. Parents pay for examination entries at 18.

    There are a few private schools in cities in Finland. They follow the national curriculum and they are directly accountable to the Government.

    The results of continuous assessment are used at 15 (end of middle school) to decide whether a pupil will follow an academic route or a vocational route. Counsellors meet with pupils to discuss their options. Some pupils opt to take some nationwide examinations in a few subjects to try to improve their grade. This could allow them access to the academic route or to a very popular school in a city.

    The first mandatory national examinations are for ‘academic’ and ‘vocational’ pupils at the age of 18 (end of upper secondary) and these allow entry to a university or a polytechnic (university of Applied Sciences). Continuous assessment grades for the six subjects studied are also considered in applications. Some universities also set their own examinations.

    The Government in Finland has abandoned the idea that the curriculum should be written by a University academic and a Government team and then sent out for approval. Instead the Government relies on many hundreds of teachers to input ideas. They comment on what actually works to promote learning in the classroom, what content is superfluous and what innovations might promote a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum for the modern world. A Government department called the National Agency for Education also inputs ideas and then organises numerous focus groups to assimilate all the suggestions. The curriculum is rewritten every ten years. It takes 2.5 years to propose changes and have pilot studies. It takes another 2.5 years for focus groups to submit final proposals. All schools then test the proposals for another 2.5 years. The last 2.5 years are used to consider feedback from pupils, parents and teachers before final publication.

    All Governments around the world are now considering changes to their educational models. Finland has decided to introduce time in the school year for activities that involve collaboration and creativity to build on their success with project work. They are also introducing activities that will give pupils confidence with IT. Singapore has been an advocate of SAT testing to drive up results but has recently decided to abandon two statutory tests for young primary children and will stop two more tests at primary and two at secondary within the next three years. Singapore has been a world class leader with regard to PISA results but in 2015 there were 27 suicides among secondary pupils. Pupils there are sent by parents to private evening coaching schools in an effort to raise their attainment and allow them to attend the best schools. The abolition of SAT testing should reduce the pressure on students and also abolish an early selection process that placed pupils in three separate streams. The Government is to adopt project work and lessons that promote creativity, as these skills are now essential in modern industry.

  4. It is not their schooling system that is better, it is their Society that is better, based on courtesy civility and discourse, those values are thought at home and reinforced at school, this is why the kids behave and learn

  5. What is this propaganda challenging the US school system. Graduate stupid so you have to take bigger student loans when you get to college.

  6. We love Finnish education. I want sent my childrens to Finnish university. I have no idea how it possible if any can help me pls
    Sundar
    India

  7. Not about winning argument but about problem-solving. How on the earth I thought these two were the same?! LOL

  8. 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 Government 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. This prevents cognitive overload for pupils and teachers. It also provides time for the teacher to speak to misbehaving pupils and achieve good discipline.
    The Government decided on mixed ability classes. (Mixed ability has recently been shown in UCL randomised trials to be more effective than streaming or setting). In Finland bright pupils are paired with less able pupils and each has to describe what has been learned in the lesson. This is peer to peer assessment and pupils soon realise what they have and have not learned.
    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 each teacher 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 16.
    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.
    Some teachers are only qualified to teach pupils between the ages of 7 to 13. They teach all subjects in a mixed ability class with less than 20 pupils. They keep the same class from year to year and soon know the pupils that need extra support.
    Other teachers are subject specialists and teach pupils aged 13+
    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 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 lesson plans in the teacher guides. 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.
    Teachers have 2 hours of professional development per week to discuss lessons, learning and new ideas.

    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. 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 projects over a three week period using school computers. Some homework involves using the internet for research. As the project progresses other pupils can comment on it. Pupils are required to give presentations to describe their completed projects to other class members who ask questions and offer constructive criticism.

    Parents…
    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 only 30 minutes per week) and are pleased that their children have 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 for upper secondary pupils. These are used daily in class and parents can see that their children are getting a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum.
    Parents pay for examination entries.
    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.
    Parents pay for extra curricular activities after school. Music is very popular.

    Comment…
    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 factor 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.
    2. The use of continuous assessment is another important factor in that Finnish pupils are regularly made accountable for their own learning through lesson tests, termly tests, portfolios and self assessment proformas.
    3. Finnish examination questions have a standard format. Copious text is initially provided before questions and this must be carefully read and analysed by pupils. Questions then require the pupil to apply the concepts they know to the novel context. Teachers incorporate this type of question into their lessons as examination preparation and problem solving becomes a regular learning activity for pupils. Such questions are similar to PISA questions.

    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.

  9. Wow! I've been an admirer of education in Finland. It is awesome how the learning values and empowers creativity, innovation, curiosity and collaboration. Really the education that is essential for enrichment of learning and progress of the society.

  10. We have also way to many liberal teachers in finland who just cant keep their personal believes outside classroom and thats a fact, also those modern feminists and finnish red cross (both pure children brainwashers) have acces to our school system.

  11. The most important factor that was not mentioned in making the Finnish system work would be the PARENTS !!!! In the USA there are too many parents who do not teach their children how to respect others, respect education, & respect Educators……(mainly in the Public school system). The USA Public schools have all of the bells and whistles, however if a parent sends a wild child to school that creates problems. Teachers are paid to "teach"; not to raise and discipline your child.

  12. Brazilians need to invest in their teachers, but it seems to me that this is not the intention of the ruling class in that country.

  13. Finland school is great some Montagnards indigenous I know they live there , their children very talented they can speak 3 languages.

  14. They have a great liberal minded ideas about education, unfortunately it isn’t making their country any more successful or wealthy. I agree with their approach, but the north east asian kid tiger mommed into passing with flawless marks is more likely to become a highly successful doctor, scientist or engineer.

  15. The main thing is they are teaching their students to love learning and the teachers love what they do but if you look at other countries like America , Singapore , China they are just trying to strive for perfection and all that is important is grades

  16. Haha the Usa is sooooooooo worse and sad and the cream berry on top of the shit hill is Trump, Haha!!!
    Sorry now real i love that system in finnland we some schools in grmany how use it and it is awesome!!!

  17. culi อีกแล้วจ้า อันนี้ดีรู้สึกอยากเรียนแบบ Finland

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *