It is not rare for the Finnish education system to be praised at the news. Whether it is the high scores in PISA results, excellent teachers or the equality of education. The question remains: why should other countries follow the lead and adapt to the Finnish system?
Well, the short answer is that they shouldn’t. On the other hand, adapting some of the pedagogy, approaches and methods, and fusing them into the local system – now that makes sense.
Yes, there is a curriculum to follow as a teacher – however the teachers in Finland have a lot of independency followed by a whole lot of responsibility.
In general, performance is not observed nor graded – instead there are annual feedback session between the teacher and the student as well as the parents. This allows each child to have a unique and personalised learning path, this also makes learning more effective and motivating.
The parents are greatly involved in the progress and development of the child. This is how the learning is seen as an entirety, a lifelong commitment to learn and develop. The teacher’s asses each student, evaluate their individual learning ability and see them as unique cases – instead of a blank canvas where the curriculum is forced upon to.
One of the major differences between the Finnish Early Childhood Education & Care ideology and the rest of the world, is the approach to learning methods. By no means this is the only difference within the education methods, but surely it is an interesting one.
Learning through play is basically based on the child’s natural cognitive development. When taking about the early years, we must have a child centred approach: children love to play, now that is a fact we cannot overlook.
By supporting this natural element and guiding them within it we are able to increase their motivation to learn and to make is desirable.
Learning through play has been proven to be effective and the fundaments of it, is that it is tailored to the age and development of a child.
Much of the early childhood education and care in Finland centres around play, free discovery, collaboration, interaction, own initiative, concentration, and learning to take responsibility for one’s own actions. ECEC in Finland emphasizes the so-called soft skills of balanced growth and taking others into account, over quantifiable metrics.
Primary level age children are demanded more of. Still, the focus is on interdisciplinary approach on subjects: allowing the children to form a holistic view of the matter being taught. No subject stand solely alone just like they do not do in real world outside the school premises.
Students in Finland can expect a 15-minute break for every 45 minutes of classroom instruction, and research shows that these kinds of breaks help students stay focused during class.
As changes are being made it is important to understand that localisation is a crucial issue. The aim is not to change or amend the national curriculum at any given location - but to enrich it and focus on the methods the curriculum is being utilised.
Finnish expertise is available overseas these days – however one must identify that changes in such profound matters do not happen overnight.
Huippu Education Ltd. has introduced an ideology of Curriculum Fusion – a way to bring elements of the renown Finnish pedagogy to a local context. For a school to seek this opportunity, they need to be open minded, ready to hand over some responsibility to the teachers from the management and to have the willingness to involve the parents as well as to really see the children as individuals and address that in daily practices.