Look to Finland.
At the Hiidenkivi Comprehensive School near Helsinki, Finland, students don’t spend all their time learning what other people have discovered. They set out to discover new things on their own. The students do this through nine-week long, interdisciplinary projects that the Finnish call “phenomenon-based learning,” a term coined by the country’s National Agency for Education.
Phenomenon-based learning is a lot like project-based learning, a more familiar term in the United States. Both prioritize hands-on activities that give students control over the direction of the project and both emphasize assignments that relate to the real world. They also emphasize student mastery of transferrable skills rather than a narrow set of facts identified by teachers. This gives kids more freedom to explore topics they find most interesting within a broad project theme. But in Finland, phenomenon-based learning is nonnegotiably interdisciplinary, something that can get left out of projects in the U.S. And it must be driven by students’ own questions about the world, something central to another “PBL,” problem-based learning.
Finland’s ability to produce high academic results in children who do not start formal schooling until the age of seven, have short school days, long holidays, relatively little homework and no exams, has long fascinated education experts around the world.
Despite this, Finland is shaking up the way it is doing things – a move that it says is vital in a digital age where children are no longer reliant on books and the classroom to gain knowledge.
In August 2016 it became compulsory for every Finnish school to teach in a more collaborative way; to allow students to choose a topic relevant to them and base subjects around it. Making innovative use of technology and sources outside the school, such as experts and museums, is a key part of it. BBC news 29 May 2017.