So Finland, probably the worlds most progressive and successful education system for primary and secondary education, is looking at getting rid of subjects (e.g. Math, History, Geography etc.) and structuring the whole system around holistically learning about phenomena:
Pretty awesome stuff from the perspective of an education nerd. This goes along with other radical/awesome policies that have accumulated over the years:
- Free universal daycare for children aged eight months, to five years old. Alternatively, the government will pay a stipend for a parent to stay at home for the first 3 years.
- 1:4 teacher to student ratio for children under 3, 1:7 ratio for children under 7, ~1:10 for the rest of high school.
- Kindergarten delayed till children are 6 years old, compulsory primary school starts at 7.
- Minimal assessment until students are 15 years old, comprehension exercises only used as feedback for students, teachers and parents.
- Students learn in 3 languages, Finnish, English, and typically another Scandinavian or European language.
- Teachers require Masters degree, and are highly respected members of society. Entry is extremely competitive, with only 10% of applicants making it through.
- Teaching is always performed in teams, significant amount of time devoted to professional development.
- Universities divided between schools of applied science, and theory/research (traditional). A bachelor of applied science is not considered inferior to a bachelor from a traditional university professionally, or when applying for further education (e.g. Masters, PHD).
- Most schools are 100% free (gratis), and there is very little class division between different schools.
- Adults can enroll in individual courses without needing to be a full-time student, in order to promote life long learning.
This excerpt from a study comparing different Scandinavian education systems provides some insight into the ethos behind these policies:
Finnish early childhood education emphasizes respect for each child’s individuality and the chance for each child to develop as a unique person. Finnish early educators also guide children in the development of social and interactive skills, encourage them to pay attention to other people’s needs and interests, to care about others, and to have a positive attitude toward other people, other cultures, and different environments. The purpose of gradually providing opportunities for increased independence is to enable all children to take care of themselves as “becoming adults, to be capable of making responsible decisions, to participate productively in society as an active citizen, and to take care of other people who will need his [or her] help.
- Anneli Niikko, "Finnish Daycare: Caring, Education and Instruction"
I'm pretty critical of the way things are heading with education in Australia. How great would it be, if instead of just talking about money, we starting looking at the ways our entire system could be reformed, based on the successful examples set by other countries? Why were the recommendations in the Gonski report so easily ignored and/or dismissed?
For certain, a system such as Finland's would not be cheap, and it would be incredibility disruptive to implement. But can we afford not to invest in education, given that at some point we're going to be forced to switch from a resource based economy to a service based one, with all indications suggesting that this will need to occur at some point in the 21st century?
Edited by tastywheat, 23 March 2015 - 12:09 PM.