We tend to think that in the U.S we have it the best. We possess the latest technology, the best food, field the best teams for sports, or perhaps boast the best education system in the world.
However, as we look at the Finnish school model and the emphasis placed on the social emotional learning development of each child we pause for a second gain perspective. How can our education model be amended to meet the individual needs of students and teachers on multiple levels? We look to Finland’s education system for inspiration. Finnish educators believe that 90 percent of students can succeed in regular classrooms if they get the emotional, academic, or health and medical help they need. Critical emphasis is placed on early intervention, the importance of recreational play, critical thinking, as well as social awareness, sharing many similarities with the model we put forth at The Meeting House. As one teacher describes, “School is about finding happiness and finding a way to learn what makes you happy.” Below are 5 important lessons the U.S can learn from Finland’s school system:
1) The diminishing returns on homework: We take it for granted that homework is a necessary part of education, and on the surface, we tend to assume that more must mean better. However, Finland has learned that too much is a waste and that high volumes of homework suffer from diminishing returns.
2) Teacher’s aren’t overworked: In Finland, teachers spend a much smaller amount of time in the classroom relative to their American counterparts. How, then, is Finland’s system stronger than the American one? One reason is a relative lack of stress experienced on the part of teachers – they are less flustered and more prepared for class when they are teaching. Furthermore, Finnish teachers are paid for two hours a week of professional development. That’s over 100 hours a year of continued training and honing of teaching skills.As such, Finnish teachers are less worn down and are better able to give each student their best. During work hours while not teaching, teachers are assessing students or preparing the curriculum. This allows them to really think about what strategies will work best, and this added level of mindfulness makes for high levels of educational achievement.
3) Students receive more attention & support: Smaller classes mean more attention per student, and Finland has learned this lesson thoroughly. Average class sizes are around 20 students in a room and combined with the level of training of teachers, students are sure to receive a high-powered education. And it’s not just classroom size that makes the difference. If a teacher has students with behavioral problems, the special education teacher is called in to consult. If schools have students arriving from other countries who can’t speak Finnish, additional teachers are available to support students until they catch up linguistically. And finally, if students need food, transportation, or health care, schools are equipped to provide it, ensuring all students are ready to learn
4) Students do not take standardized tests. Contrary to many other countries, the Finnish emphasize their dislike of standardized testing. The Finnish education system discourages any standardized testing before the age of 16.
5) Frequent breaks: The education system in Finland continues to highlight the importance of playtime throughout schooling. Children are required to spend 15 minutes outdoors every hour, no matter the weather conditions.
The Finnish Educational Point of View:
● Shorter school days, shorter school years, less homework replaced by other things such as play, sports, music, art, poetry.
● Should be baking, singing, nature walks, — very short time that they are allowed to be children
● Emphasis on learning languages
● No standardized tests — you actually have to know it.
● America should stop teaching to a standardized test — teaching them to do well on those tests
● “School is finding happiness and finding a way to learn what makes you happy”
● Half time spent in school
● Student centered — treated more like adults
● Teach to think for themselves and critical thinkers — respect others, respect self
● Math teacher teaches happiness
● To be happy and have a happy life, play and socialize with friends.L