Tuesday

Education in Finland

Finland now leads the world in education. Countries all over the world are flocking to Finland to study their model of education. There is much to be learned and Finland is eager to share their success. The school follows the pedagogical principles of the Frenchman CĂ©lestin Freinet, who underlines learning by doing and community orientation.



The schools have age group integrated classes, i.e. each group has children from two different age groups. Differences may be substantial between children of the same age, but in an age-integrated group differences are taken for granted and there is less comparison. Those who are slower or faster than average are given tasks that suit their needs.



The school day is over between 12 noon and 2 p.m., depending on the day and group. Both parents of nearly all children are working full-time as is customary in Finland, and the little schoolchildren find the afternoon alone at home too long. Consequently, the city authorities have built a playground near the school, with access safe from motor traffic. The playground offers the schoolchildren a good, extensive recreational area with playground and games equipment and two buildings where they can do their homework or play indoor games. Five playground attendants take care of the children, who are also provided with a snack at cost in the afternoon. Otherwise the entire playground facility is free of charge. Here, too, Freinet’s pedagogical principals are observed: the children participate in creating a good and pleasant environment for themselves.



Comprehensive school subjects include native language and literature, other languages, environmental study, civics, religion or ethics, history, social studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, physical education, music, art, handicrafts and home economics. The goals of instruction and the core curriculum are the same nationwide, but the local authorities and schools draw up their own local curricula on that basis. Comprehensive school subjects include native language and literature, other languages, environmental study, civics, religion or ethics, history, social studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, physical education, music, art, handicrafts and home economics. The goals of instruction and the core curriculum are the same nationwide, but the local authorities and schools draw up their own local curricula on that basis.



Most Finns are members of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, and their children participate in instruction in their own religion. Members of other religious groups are also entitled to instruction in their own religion if a minimum of three pupils form a study group.



Those who are not members of a religious group are exempted from instruction in religion. Instead, they study ethics throughout their school career, comprising instruction in ethics, religions and interpersonal skills.



In 2000, PISA emphasised reading literacy, in 2003 the accent was on maths and problem solving, and in 2006 special attention will be given to the natural sciences. It will be interesting to see how Finland ranks this year.

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