Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What should we learn from the Finns about education?

The Finns are well known for their excellence in education - Finland is top of the scales that assess and compare national systems of education.

How do they do it?  Quite simple:
  • Children don't start formal education until the age of seven.
  • The formative years focus on having fun in learning, being physically active and being creative.
  • Any formal examinations are banned until the age of 18
  • “Teaching to the test” is an alien concept. 
  • Free school meals are universally provided.
  • Pay teachers the same as doctors.
  • Forsake streaming by ability.
  • Ensure that all schools have equal funding and staffing, so students simply go to their nearest school
  • Abolish selective grammar schools.
  • Privatization of schools and competition between schools based on league tables do not exist.
  • Outlawing school selection to demonstrate commitment to equality (on both moral and economic grounds)
How does your national education system measure up to these criteria?  Not very well, I suspect.  But the even bigger question is why don't we learn from the Finns???

Wonder why one-third of school children in the US are obese?

Think what an MRI would tell us about their brains!!


  1. That's very interesting. and this article lead me to another piece of information: The OECD PISA test and country comparisons. I am going to share Turkey (2012) here:

    I wonder why Turkish education cannot catch up with the rest and why many students suffer at university?!?

    1. From the PISA data it appears that Turkish students have not been able to develop their ability to solve problems in comparison to other countries. When I chat with students informally, almost all bemoan the fact that their education was primarily based on rote learning and memorization. Critical thinking or thinking "outside the box" (which involves taking risks) was not only lacking, but actively discouraged. It is little wonder that students struggle at university.

      The real question, as you point out, is that while everyone knows what the problems are and what we need to do to solve them, there appears to be no collective will on behalf of society to change the status quo. Indeed, we have known what needs to be done to improve education in Turkey as far back as 1925, when John Dewey presented his ideas for reform the Turkish education system (see But, almost a century after Dewey published his report, we are still waiting to see his recommendations put into action.