Europe’s top-performing school system rethinks its approach

FinlandI recently read this article, Why I love Finland, by Will Richardson that led me to this article in the Economist. Here is one of the statements that caught my attention:

“Finland is hardly alone in facing shifts in youth culture, notes Tim Oates of Cambridge Assessment, a testing company. Some countries, like England, have responded by tightening discipline. But Finland is taking a sensitive and “pupil-led” approach. In August its 313 municipalities will roll out their versions of a new national curriculum meant to restore the “joy and meaningfulness of learning”.

Norway is also rethinking the versions of a new national curriculum and at the same time introducing a requirement of 10 % attendance to graduate. I have yet to see any mention of joy and meaningfulness of learning! In Finland, they are introducing more art, music and “phenomenon-based learning”: team projects that combine subjects.

Our county Akershus is determined to achieve the best results among the nordic countries. I’m thinking we probably need some help from the Department of Education here. But with a conservative government where tests results, exams, and attendance are key factors, I’m not optimistic. In Finland, teachers have exceptionally high social status: only doctors are more sought-after as partners. In Norway, we are trying to model Finland by introducing a Master education for all new teachers.  Every problem in society seems to be related to teachers’ poor education and abilities to teach. Shouldn’t we consider changing our way of teaching and learning like they are planning in Finland? I know a Norwegian delegation is in Helsinki this week with Microsoft. Hopefully, they will come back with new ideas!

A land of people who love to learn

“Education is a source of pride in Finnish society. However, the transformation of working life, digitisation, growing inequality multiculturalism, and globalisation pose challenges for the future of the education sector. How might education and training respond to changing skill needs in the working life of the future? How can we foster educational equality and equal opportunities for all in education and training, in an increasingly polarised society? How can education be reformed in a student-oriented manner, while taking advantage of technology and setting our sights on the future? Instead of the traditional division into subjects, should the education system be based on a phenomenon-oriented approach? Will the education business be a future competitive advantage for Finland?”  Source.  Sitra 

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