An interesting article on why Finland has the best schools…
Posted on: April 21, 2016. Comments ( 7 )

Author: Rajesh Selvaraj, parent of BVM Global @ Perungudi, Chennai

Hi parents and readers! I got to read an interesting bit of information and have adapted it into an article. Maybe we can take a cue from this…

This article is based the reflections of a father who had a position as a lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland for a semester. During his stay for the semester, he had enrolled his seven-year-old son in a primary school in Joensuu, Finland, which is about as far east as you can go in the European Union before you hit the guard towers of the Russian border.

He recollects how he experienced a pleasingly stress-free, and commendably good, school system, for five months, along with his wife and son. Apparently, Finland has a history of producing the highest global test scores in the Western world, as well as a trophy case full of other recent “No. 1 global rankings”, including “Most Literate Nation”.

This is why Finland has the best schools…

  • In Finland, children don’t receive formal academic training until the age of seven.
  • Until the age of seven, many are in day care and learn through play, songs, games and conversation.
  • Most children walk or bike to school, even the youngest.
  • School hours are short.
  • Homework is generally light.
  • Schoolchildren in Finland have a mandatory 15-minute outdoor free-play break every hour of every day.
  • Fresh air, nature and regular physical activity breaks are considered engines of learning.

One evening, when the father asked his son what he did for gym that day, his son replied thus: “They sent us into the woods with a map and compass and we had to find our way out.”

In Finland, no time or money is wasted on low-quality mass standardized testing. Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality “personalized learning device” ever created—flesh-and-blood teachers.

In class, children are allowed to have fun, giggle and daydream from time to time. Schools practice the cultural mantras I heard over and over—

“Let children be children.”…

“The work of a child is to play.”…

And, “Children learn best through play.”

The emotional climate of the typical classroom is warm, safe, respectful and highly supportive. There are no scripted lessons and no quasi-martial requirements to walk in straight lines or sit up While the students in Chinese schools feel like they are in the military, schools in Finland make students feel like they are part of a really nice family.

In Finland, teachers are the most trusted and admired professionals next to doctors, in part because they are required to have a master’s degree in education with specialization in research and classroom practice.

Finland delivers highly qualified, highly respected and highly professionalized teachers on a national public scale—

  • personalized one-on-one instruction
  • manageable class sizes
  • a rich, developmentally correct curriculum
  • regular physical activity
  • little or no low-quality standardized tests and the toxic stress and wasted time and energy that accompanies them
  • daily assessments by teachers
  • a classroom atmosphere of safety, collaboration, warmth and respect for children as cherished individuals

One day that November, when eastern Finland was witnessing the first snow, the father heard a commotion outside his university faculty office window, which was close to the teacher training school’s outdoor play area. He had walked over to investigate.

The field was filled with children savoring the first taste of winter amid the pine trees.

As the father walked over to the recess monitor who was overseeing the children in the field, she greeted him with a rhetorical, “Do you hear that?” The recess monitor was a special education teacher wearing a yellow safety smock.

“That,” she said proudly, “is the voice of happiness.”

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Comments (7)


    Sundarapandian says:

    Very nice article, Thank for sharing and looking forward to see implementing some of the above in our schools.

    A. Mohamed Rafique says:

    To try this in our country, we will be practically mocked by our peers. To do home work for hours together is a pride for parents at home though they know everything.To leave a kid at daycare without enrolling him/her into Pre KG or LKG is considered a shame here.
    The one who tries it will be an odd man out among his peers and that kid is criticized for years as a dull head!
    I left my kid at daycare till she was 4 and now enrolling her into LKG…
    Wish parents understand what they should be proud about and what not!

    Himanshu says:

    Thanks for sharing an interesting article

    Jaanaki says:

    Finland must be a wonderful place, because it is filled with happiness, especially because children are allowed to live as they are created.
    We are running behind success, thinking that success gives happiness; but the fact is that “Happiness is the key to success”.

    Lalithkumar.t says:

    Good to read all this but practically how far is we can implement in our country and how many are affordable for education first in our country.only cream of people can think about this?
    can education system will change in our country ?

      S.rajesh says:

      Hi Lalith…more often than not we have been the architect of our own destiny…the present set up of schools have come up from our demands in this structure…wrongly believing that competency is related to grades and scores…so time to get back to the basics. You are right that its difficult to unlearn these stuff in a jiffy…but again we need to start somewhere…

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