Academic freedom is probably what a lot of students wish for. And duly noted with all the math problems to perfect, book reports to follow up, and whether your hypothesis for that lab experiment was accepted. Wait, maybe you just remembered that there was a midterm this Friday, gotta study for that too!
Long hours completing assignments due at the end of the week but now you’re looking for extra time to study for that midterm. Have you ever wondered if all this homework was worth all the effort?
Well, Finland has reinvented their education system and no homework, no standardised tests are some of the differences to the typical American education system. Sounds like every students dream, right? Let’s not jump to any conclusions now, Finnish students work just as hard if not harder to earn their grades. The Ministry of Education has declared that, “… all people must have equal access to high-quality education and training.” They’re making efforts for lifelong learning and the basis on this principle is equality. Furthermore, they have a Development and Research Plan which focuses on the, “…alleviation of poverty, inequality and exclusion, stabilising the public economy and fostering sustainable economic growth, employment and competitiveness.”
A few other notable principles:
1. Highly educated, highly respected teachers. Becoming a teacher requires a Master’s degree and is a highly competitive profession. Teacher education is densely research-based and focuses on pedagogical content knowledge. Finland leads in curriculum design to support creativity and innovation, the teaching profession involves research, development, and design. Prioritising both student and teacher development on various levels emphasises and encourages quality education.
2. Vocational classes. Students are exposed to vocational coursework of their choice such as handcrafts, cooking, creative arts, technology and sports. About 75% of the coursework is vocational and the remaining 25%, core curriculum subjects. These courses are incorporated into the system to improves skills in the work force as well to support lifelong learning.
3. Belief in equality rather than high achievement. The government offers equal opportunities in receiving quality education regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, residency, economic situation or linguistic background. There is a priority in raising the value of human capital in Finland and they seem to be on the right track. Finland holds its place as one of the top performing countries among the OECD countries. Although there was a downturn based on the 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results, Finland remains near the top.
4. Independence. Teachers are offered continuous professional development opportunities and support. Students are also highly trusted which is why they are offered exams and tests but no national testing. They believe in the quality of education that is being taught in schools. Surprisingly, students have no limits online either meaning, no Internet censorship.
Finland doesn’t believe in shopping around for schools and education, instead they place high priority on a universal curriculum and individual support. Although their system is targeted for facilitating learning rather than directed learning, it will take considerable efforts to maintain it’s success until now.
Let’s review with some statistics: