Should we raise our kids in Finland?
Prya Oliveira, Staff Writer
There is a country that has a successful educational system, holding fourth place for the quality of higher education in the entire world, all while having no standardized testing or private institutions. Finland has stolen the spot for the overall best education system in the world, along with being one of the top countries to raise children in as of 2018. Their safe and stress-free learning environment has contributed to the success of their students when they eventually join the workforce. Though comparatively different to the United States in size and culture, there may be a few lessons that the U.S. could take from the thriving country.
Finland’s education system prides itself on promoting a relaxed learning environment. They do not encourage cramming information into children’s minds just to succeed on a standardized test. They have noticed that when there is a standard that children have to reach, teachers will often teach strictly to these tests, and rather than helping children to really learn and absorb information, they have children memorize information that they will most likely forget. Their education system uses “common sense practices” where it is believed that learning is more important than passing a test, which is what American students are accustomed to.
Finland created a “back to basics” program that made the following top priority: using education to balance out social inequality, students given free school meals, and individual guidance provided for each student.
Rather than having different teachers every year, Finland’s teachers remain constant from when the children first enter school to when they graduate, which allows them to have a more individualized teaching style. Teachers are able to analyze the needs of each student and accommodate to their own learning. Unlike traditional American schools, schools in Finland begin at 9:45 a.m., and end no later than 2:45 p.m. Although they have longer class periods, their breaks are also longer. It has been studied that having classes begin from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. can be detrimental to children’s overall health and maturation.
Finnish children start school at the age of seven which is much later than the typical American four-year old who attends preschool. Finnish school officials have stated that by having children start school at a later age, they are able to develop a real childhood that takes away the pressure of education. Even past the ninth grade, or the age of 16, school is still just an option.
For higher education, there is an Upper Secondary School, which is a three-year program that prepares you for the Matriculation test—an exam that determines your acceptance to university. After that, there is another three-year program that trains students to prepare them for a wide-variety of careers. Teachers are highly paid and qualified, even though they only need a three-year degree to apply, along with a completion of a program that is similar to the residency program that are required for U.S. medical students. This may seem easy but only 10 of those applicants are chosen to be teachers.
This education system is quite different from what we are used to in America. They not only allow time for “kids to be kids,” but they also aren’t afraid to experiment with their educational system to try new strategies that will help the children succeed. They aren’t stuck with old traditions that don’t work with today’s generation, but instead they pay close attention to research to understand what is working and what isn’t. This country has been so successful in educating their children because school is much more than cramming and stressing over tests, it is actually making sure that these children learn something in Finland. They have created a safe and relaxing environment that has resulted in their education system being at the highest in the world.