Education - we spend at least a decade of our lives and sometimes almost two decades in getting proper education. Recent education is one such area that relies on constant stress, as there are always targets and deadlines… a constant round of homework, essays, regular tests, and end-of-term plus end-of-year exams. Due to such a pressurized, competitive and market-driven education system, children start to experience more stress at younger ages. As if more ambitious a course, the more chances of negative outcomes like pass/fail mentality, feelings of persistent failure and low self-worth. Eventually, all these pessimistic factors dangerously affect the real potential of the brain.
But wait, Finland has done something which poles apart… as it created one of the world’s most successful education systems where children study in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. Finland has gone against the evaluation-driven, centralized model used by much of the Western world. By defining what actually the excellent teaching instead of reasonable teaching, it implemented huge education reforms in 1970. With very different philosophies, Finland mainly emphasizes on relaxed schools in its improved system. With unorthodoxy education model, it consistently tops the charts in the global rankings for education systems and becomes the international all-star of education. Such academic success of Finland has drawn a great amount of attention across the world, leaving many big countries wondering. If you are also curious to know what actually makes Finland ahead in terms of best education system, then read here about the Best things of Finland education system model.
Not for any… Historical episode, Impressive landmark, Foodstuff, or its share of Olympic athletes, brilliant architects, and technology tycoons; but this small Northern nation, Finland is one of the world’s leaders in the academic performance, a position which it has held for the past decade. PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) conducted a survey of 15-year-olds' academic skills from 57 nations. In 2000, the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was 1st in science out of 57 countries. In 2009, Finland positioned 1st in science by a whopping 5% margin, 2nd in math, and 3rd in reading among nearly half a million students worldwide. At that time, U.S. ranked number 17, down with Hungary and Slovakia.
Why is Finland education system best in the world?
Equal Opportunities for All
In Finnish education, equality is the most important word. Here, the gap between the highest and lowest performers within schools is small. All pupils are kept in the same classroom and provided with equal opportunities for education, regardless of their ability in that particular subject, family backgrounds, domicile, sex, economic situation or linguistic.
Don’t disturb childhood
Another important theme of Finnish education is that children in Finland start formal learning of reading and mathematics at age seven only. In Finland, high quality daycare and nursery-kindergarten are considered important for up-warding the cooperation and communication skills, which is necessary to prepare young children for lifelong education. They focus on Neurological research, which has shown that 90% of brain growth occurs during the first 5 years of life, and 85% of the nerve paths develop before starting school. According to them, children learn best through play before starting more formal learning at age seven. As Finland heavily subsidizes daycare for children, about 97% of Finnish children attend preschool, which starts at age 5, and emphasizes playing and socializing. By the time, they finally get to school when they are keen to start learning.
In Finland, schools do not select their students but all can go to the school of his or her own school district, without channel or stream to different schools.
Limited Class Size
The standard class size in Finland is only 20 students. Also, the classroom size of science courses is limited to 16 students, so students can do actual in-person experiments in the lab.
A picky feature of the Finnish system is the special teacher. This is actually based on the Finnish philosophy where they believe that everyone has something to contribute and those who struggle in certain subjects should not be left behind. A specially trained teacher is assigned to each school. Special teacher‘s role is to work with class teachers in identifying students who need extra help. Then, special teacher work independently or in small groups with such students to provide the extra support they need to keep up with their classmates. About 30% of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
Less Teaching Hours
Finnish children spend the fewest number of hours in the classroom. Even, teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for "professional development". With less teaching hours, students are not besieged with class, also teachers are not stressed to prepare.
Elementary school students get little playtime, on average 27 minutes of recess a day while students in Finland get about 75 minutes of recess a day, receiving a 15-minute break after every lesson. Addition to this, they encourage outdoor physical activity at most and some lessons are taught outside even in the winter!
National testing, inspection systems and school ranking lists do not exist in Finland education system, and the children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education. Compared with other systems, there are few mandatory tests in Finland until a single exam at the end of high school. There’s also little homework until they are well into their teens.
On all school levels, teachers are highly valued and teaching standards are high in Finland. Teaching is a prestigious career in Finland and hence, universities can select the most motivated and talented applicants. Here in Finland, you need more than a Bachelor’s degree and a teacher certification - you must have a Master’s degree. Competition for these spots is fierce: teachers are selected only from the top 10% of graduates. Teachers work independently and enjoy full autonomy in the classroom. Moreover, Finland has the similar amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students. There is no merit pay for teachers. Teachers are given the same status as doctors and lawyers; however high school teachers with their 15 years of experience just make 102% of what other college graduates make.
Instruction Guidelines, Not Prescriptions
Unlike others, here teachers in Finland are given guidelines about what they have to teach, and they are not given prescriptions on how to teach it. With this freedom, the highly trained teachers are allowed to develop a curriculum geared towards teaching their unique group of students as like Timo Heikkinen, a principal of the Kallahti school, implemented a new environmental science program that revolve around the forest next to the school.
Teachers Stick with Students
Usually, students get a new teacher every year. But in Finland, primary and secondary schooling is combined, so teachers likely to stick with the same group of students for five years that makes teacher’s job a lot easier. Keeping the same pupils in her classroom for several years, teachers get a better chance to form relationships with their students as well as students can avoid a potentially disturbing transition from one school to another. At the best, teachers grab golden opportunity to get to know students as learners more properly.
After the nine-year basic education in a comprehensive school, students at the age of 16 can decide if they want to continue their secondary education in either an academic track or a vocational track. Both of these usually take three years. Tertiary education is divided into university and polytechnic systems and there are 17 universities and 27 polytechnics in the country. About 43% of Finnish second-level students go to vocational schools.
Facilitate & Spread the school network
The school system in Finland is 100% state funded also note that compared to the U.S., Finland spends about 30% less per student. Finland provides basic education completely free of charge including instructions, school materials, school meals, health care, dental care, commuting, special needs education and remedial teaching. Even, the school network is regionally wide-ranging, so that pupils have a school near their homes whenever possible or, if this is not possible, e.g. in rural areas, they also provide free transportation to more widely dispersed schools.
Finland also has low levels of immigration, it means as and when students start school the majority of them learned Finnish as their native language, abolishing an obstacle that other societies often face. However, Finnish language education starts on the very first day of school. By age 9, students start Finland’s second official language - Swedish, and at 11, they start learning a third language, generally English. Even around age 13, many students take on a fourth language. For university placement, pupils are tested in their first two languages in a matriculation exam.
In Finland, about 66% (two-thirds) of students attend college that is the highest rate in all of Europe. Also, 93% of Finns graduate from high school.
Guidance counselors support upper grade students in their studies and choice of further education.
During their secondary schooling, at least 2 out of 5 Finnish school students benefit from some type of special intervention.
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