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What Can Be Learned from Finland’s Education System

The best way to educate students is something that most countries strive to discover. While most are still searching for answers, Finland has seen dramatic progress in its education system within the recent years. The first realization came in 2000 when Finland’s school system was revealed to have the best readers in the world.

Then again in 2009, Finnish students ranked second in science, third in reading, and sixth in math, among a sample of about 500,000 students worldwide. Ever since these rankings were released, countries around the world have been trying to understand what it is that Finland does so well. Here are some of the unique traits of the Finnish education system:

  1. Delayed start: children in Finland do not start their schooling until age seven. Before the start of their formal education, children spend their time in daycare where they learn through more engaging forms such as play, singing, and games.
  2. Frequent breaks: the education system in Finland continues to highlight the importance of playtime throughout schooling. Children are required to spend 15 minutes outdoors every hour, no matter the weather conditions.
  3. Students do not take standardized tests: contrary to many other countries, the Finnish emphasize their dislike of standardized testing. The Finnish education system discourages any standardized testing before the age of 16.
  4. Teaching is a well-respected profession: becoming a teacher is a rigorous and competitive program in Finland. All teachers must go through a five-year master’s program that is highly selective, only accepting a few hundred of the thousands of students that apply.
  5. Uniformity across the country: Finland’s education systems all have the same goals for their students. Additionally, since their educators come from rigorous programs, all schools have equally qualified teachers. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development conducted a survey that ranked the differences between the strongest and weakest students as the smallest in the world.

Finland’s education system is very different from those around the world, and yet it is arguably the most successful. The country stresses the importance of play and teaching students to learn not only for the sake of a test but to be more knowledgeable people. Additionally, the teachers themselves know how important their jobs are and therefore dedicate many years of their lives to learning how to be the best educators they can be. For these reasons and more, Finland’s education system is one of the best in the world.

Olivia Hayes

Photo: Flickr