Finnish Lessons – What We Can Learn

Learning from US Sources – Ironic!

  • Finland knew that it could not rely on pedagogical innovation coming from home due to its small size. It drew on work done mostly in the US to launch large scale use of cooperative learning and diverse teaching methods. It also adopted school improvement through networking within and between schools and self-regulation. All students get free nutritious meals, health services, psychological counseling, and student guidance. The Finnish system has also resisted infection of market-based competition and high-stakes testing.
  • Since 1970, reforms in Finnish schools have greatly increased the number of students finishing secondary schools and higher education programs. It is important to note that University and Trade Schools are free. This allows Finland to lead the world in terms of affordability and explains why 60% go on to some form of higher education.
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2 Responses to “Finnish Lessons – What We Can Learn”

  1. DgBorn says:

    This is a nice summary.

    However, there’s a minor flaw in the description of the current structure of the Finnish education system. There is no standardized test at age 16; the national matriculation exam is the final test of the upper secondary school (called lukio, somewhat equivalent to the American high school, even though more advanced topics such as differential calculus are taught).

    Also, the test can be taken in three parts and students are free to choice which tests they will take, and will they take them in the spring or in the autumn.

    Those who choose the vocational education never take any standardized tests, and the choice between upper secondary school and vocational school is not entirely, or not even largely nowadays, determined by academic success: many successful students also opt for vocational education.

  2. Leah says:

    An amazing summary and thank you DgBorn for clearing that up. Actually, I also heard that the NME is also taken at 16.

    The overall picture I get is that things are much more customized in Finland- principals and administrators work with teachers to make them better at what they do best and teachers customize the student experience for each student helping them to achieve more in their strengths.

    I wonder if things are also different from an employer perspective. I feel like employers are one of the key driving factors to get all of our students in the US to college and some employers won’t value a vocational or trade school like they will a top University. I wonder if the culture is different in Finland.

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