The wonder of Finland’s education system

Noon, on a winter day in Kuopio, central Finland. First-grade pupils at one of the city’s public schools are going outside to play. Temperature is -10 C and it is snowing. So what? It is their turn to take some time off from learning and play. It doesn’t matter that the weather is freezing. Teachers encourage the pupils to enjoy their time out. Besides, there is no more teaching in the classroom, for the day.

This is not an ideal school day in a utopian country. It is how the education system in Finland works. Kids are not workers. They need to combine learning with fun. But with all this, when do they learn? Do they learn at all? Results show that Finnish students frequently top international school contests and get the highest scores.

How come? Why do they say that the Finnish educational system is probably the best in the world? Do Nordic culture elements come into play again?

Finnish dreamland!

No, we are not talking about stunning Lapland. We are talking about how schools in Finland work. Take notes: no hurry to start school (kids stay at the daycare and then preschool until around 7 years old). Fewer hours per day and fewer days per year, at school. Really? Here comes the best part.

No homework. Literally, close to zero, null, nada study needed to be done after school at home. There is no need for that. There are hardly any standardized exams and the goal is not to compete with grades. The real thing is knowledgeexperiences, socializing, playing, exploring arts and science.

Leave the kids alone!

Finland’s education system is not centred around the pupils. We mean in terms of tests, grades, studying, homework. It is centred around the teachers. They are the masters whose success guarantees the success of the system. Teachers in Finland are highly appreciated for their work. They get very high salaries and it is a career many people seek. They are highly regarded, just like doctors and lawyers.

One of the reasons why there is not that extensive time in the classroom is that teachers should be able to continue their training, learn new things and develop their personal skills. After all, they are the ones who will then infuse all these to the kids.

But what makes the system so unique is the sense of equality that spans all of its levels. All pupils are equal, whether they do great or not and whether they come from rich or poor families. All the kids go to the same public schools. And there is no actual competition among them.

No need for high grades. Some exams are in the schedule but no one actually lays much importance on their results. And kids are often encouraged to help their classmates who face problems or have weaknesses. In addition, teachers are equal too. Best practices are quickly shared with other teachers, even other schools in the area or nationwide.

What a great place to go to school, some kids would say. We would say removing competition and promoting equality at schools can be the recipe for nurturing great next generations.