You know you’re a bit of an educational nerd when reading about a documentary on the Finnish school system gets you all tingly.
I’ve actually read many articles about Finland’s educational system in the past few years, and I’ve just loved what I’ve read. I had no idea someone had made a movie about it! It’s called The Finnish Phenomenon: Inside the World’s Most Surprising School System. Spiffy. Unfortunately, it’s not on Netflix yet. But I’ll be keeping my eye out. It’s making me salivate just to think about it. (See? Totally geeking out.)
Since I’ve given myself a mandate to get to bed early tonight, I’m not going to get started about all the things I love about the Finnish education system. Hmmm . . . nope. Can’t help myself. I’ll give you a few things, just to show some of the contrast to our current model:
– Kids don’t officially start school until age 7. (I don’t really care that much about what age kids start school, but I appreciate that they’ve proven that earlier isn’t necessarily better when it comes to academics.)
– Teachers give very little homework (average 30 minutes/night at the high school level).
– Teachers follow a broad, basic national curriculum, but have lots of freedom to tailor curriculum to their students.
– Kids spend less time in school. (The school I read about a few years ago started around 8:30 and students were finished around 1:00 or 2:00.)
– Teachers have more free time to plan and reflect on their classes.
– At age 16, students go on to college or to high-quality, meaningful tech training programs.
– They do very (very!) little standardized testing.
– Teachers are trained well and then trusted to do their job.
– Recess is seen as integral to the educational experience. (The minister of education said that if kids don’t play, they can’t learn. Duh.)
– In one school I read about, kids help with all aspects of taking care of the school, from helping in the lunch room to helping the janitors. And there was great attention paid to making the physical environment welcoming and comfortable.
These elements (and more – that’s a rather short list, and doesn’t even include some of the best stuff) have proven to work in Finland, and work smashingly. Forty years ago, Finland’s education system was in the dumps. They turned it around, and now they score at the top of most international tests for high school students. It’s a fascinating model, and one that includes many elements that I personally consider best for students and teachers. There are so many great details in the links below. If you have any interest in education at all, I encourage you to read them. Some really good stuff.
So, I will leave you with a trailer for the film:
And the article someone posted on Facebook that got me started on all of this tonight:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/c-m-rubin/finland-education_b_868781.html?ref=fb&src=sp (Check out the picture of the classroom in the middle of the article. That is one hip and funky teacher!)
And a nice review of the film written by an American teacher (which also give a lot of information about the Finnish system): http://eduratireview.com/tag/the-finland-phenomenon/
This stuff just makes me giddy. 🙂