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Education in Finland

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Kayla Kassees

on 13 July 2017

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Transcript of Education in Finland

Country History
Finland declared its independence in 1917. In 1919, Finland became a republic and established Kaarlo Stahlberg as their first president. A peace treaty was signed in 1947 between Finland and the Soviet Union. Finland is a small homogenous country that originally did not have the best public schooling. Now, there is a huge push for equal education for all children. Equality is strongly supported in the Finnish culture. They are also committed to inclusion in their school system. The teachers are teaching to the needs of each student and providing assistance for the students requiring this. Teachers are highly respected in their community. They have built positive relationships with parents and other members of the community.
Human Rights
Equal education. Proven through PISA scores concluding to be fairly even with mostly achieving high results for Finland students.
Free medical and dental care.
High respect for teachers.
Gender equality.
Equality immigrant education developing their multiculturalism and bilingualism.
Welfare system helps to provide free transportation, education, school lunch, healthcare, and other counseling services free of charge for families in need.
Finland students are ranked number one in literacy. Equal opportunities in reading and education aid with this result. There is also the support of parents being role models for their students as active readers that helps to support a culture full of literacy. Students are encouraged to read a variety of texts and these resources are made available to them in school by the community libraries or classroom library in order to have diverse reading material. Digital sources is another way to encourage reading. This is more prevalent in the upper grades however it is something that is being encouraged more and more at the lower levels to ensure students have these skills. It also promotes reading and that is the ultimate goal for the Finnish educators.
Government Involvement
The government is closely involved with the teaching union in Finland in order to collaboratively make decisions for their school system. Due to the extensive training required by all teachers, the government trusts them to be able to have some freedom with their teaching methods. They can experiment and be innovative in their teaching of the content in order to do what is best for their students. Students receive learning through play-based teachings in order to thrive educationally with interactive learning. Four breaks throughout the day provide a chance for each student to be active before they begin more learning in the classroom. This, in turn, creates students that are more focused and can concentrate during instruction from receiving these frequent breaks. The government decides the hours for instruction in basic education and lessons required for core subjects. Homework depends on the teacher, but the amount of homework assigned is low compared to other countries. This slowly increases as the child progresses to the higher levels of education.
Educational Reforms
The economic and political development since World War 2 was the start of Finland's educational reform. Cultural factors played into Finland's successful story for their educational reform. November 1968 was when the education system newly focused on a common comprehensive school for grades 1-9. In 1972, implementation slowly began as it was a challenge switching from parallel forms of schooling to the comprehensive system. This change grew gradually from northern Finland in 1972 all the way to the southern area by 1977. This slow change shows the patience needed to instill efficient, necessary unified change. Due to these improvements, "Finland has achieved a remarkable amount of equality in its education system."
Standardized testing is not used in the Finland educational system each year starting in third grade like the United States. The performance of their students is not used in evaluating their teachers. Finland trusts their teachers and their judgement on how to evaluate their students and develop their own teaching practices through experience and professional development. The students are assessed for teaching purposes to better develop a child's learning of material. The only standardized test required by their educational system is in the secondary portion of their education. A test completed upon finishing high school is done to allow students the opportunity to move on to a higher education.
Education in Finland
Finland is located between Sweden and Russia in the northern part of Europe. Norway touches the northern tip of Finland as the southwestern part is surrounded by the Gulf of Bothnia. Helsinki is the capital of Finland located at the southern tip of the country. In 1917, Finland became known as its own nation from the Soviet Union after World War 2.
Educational Aspects
Finland is culturally homogenous.
5.4 million people.
City of Helsinki -- half of the students are immigrants.
Languages taught and spoken are Swedish and Finnish.
A third language is required by the school system.
Usually English is chosen as the third language.
Small country that uses this to thrive on its education.
Education is available to all.
Develop education through its culture to keep up with the competitive nations surrounding Finland.
Slowly becoming more diverse culturally in population.
Motivated and driven through education to be successful.
School SElection
Inclusion is largely supported at schools in Finland. 8% of Finland's students have been identified as needing special education however there are only half that are placed in a different school. The rest receive support in the regular educational classroom. Their support is acquired from a teacher known as the "special teacher." This teacher is specially trained to determine the needs of the child through the help of the classroom teacher. These accommodations are put in place to help the student stay on track with the rest of their class. They are given extra help and support as needed in small group or individually.
Higher Education
Access to Medical Care
Finland similarities to the united states educational system
Finland Differences to the united states educational system
What can we learn?
Not only is education highly respected in Finland, but the school system provides the necessary means to help the well-being of its children. All have access to dental and medical care. Finland is very much supportive of all students having these types of services as a preventative strategy. Also, a hot meal is served at school to each student. This fuels the child with the necessary nutrients to put forth their best effort in the classroom. For families and students that need additional support, there is mental health, guidance, and psychological counseling available.
"Pupils' multi-professional care group" is a group of school staff that come together at least twice a month for two hours. The group consists of the principal, special education teacher, school nurse, school psychologist, a social worker, and the classroom teacher for those students of concern. There is sometimes a parent present if their child is being discussed at the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to identify any needs or concerns with individual students. This allows for any supports they may need to be established ahead of time to prevent any achievement gaps. There is also an opportunity for the child and family to receive professional help if it is more than what the school can do for the child. Having this type of support system through free health care is largely supported as part of the educational system. Actively taking care of the "whole" child.
School Selection
A core curriculum is used to guide teachers of content that should be taught for specific grade levels.
The use of the latest technology in the classroom is seen in both countries however the United States uses this aspect more commonly in their school system. Finland is working to integrate technology more in their classrooms.
The use of whole group, small group, and individual learning experiences is similar for the U.S. and Finland.
Inclusion is exercised in both countries.
A period of time for recess is established for both countries however there is a longer period of this for Finland students.
Providing an equal education to all students is evident for both countries.
Medical and dental care is provided for free to all students regardless of their economical background in Finland.
Free hot lunch is also given to all students in Finland despite their home life.
Higher educational training is required for all teachers. A masters degree is necessary to teach in Finland.
Teachers are encouraged to experiment with their teaching in order to further encourage learning and discover new, effective teaching strategies for Finland schools.
School's in the United States are competing against each other in order to achieve funds provided from the government based on scoring high on standardized tests. This is not something Finland follows. They look at experimenting with their teaching strategies as a way to collaborate and share with the schools in their country to better thrive in the educational world.
Allowing the students the opportunity to grow and develop socially as a child before starting their schooling careers is done in the Finland school system.
Use of a standardized test is administered at the end of high school for Finland, versus every year like in the U.S.
There is only a public school system in Finland with some independent. Private schools are not used as it is in the United States.
Recess is more frequently allowed in Finland (75 minutes) and less and less of this is seen in the U.S.
Low amounts of homework is given in the Finland school systems.
Having a unified school system, which can then incorporate the use of collaboration, can make a school system stronger and more efficient.
Looking out for the well-being of our students can in turn allow them to perform better because they are not sick or struggling to concentrate from another form of pain.
Providing a well-balanced meal allows for the student to think and develop efficiently in the school setting.
Strengthening the public school system so that there will be more collaboration and teamwork among school districts versus competing to have the best standardized scores in order to receive financial benefit to the education for your school.
Giving more opportunities for the students to self-assess themselves allows the students to take more control of their learning. They can evaluate what they do and do not understand from the curriculum.
Give our students the opportunity to be a kid and grow socially before entering the education world.
Provide play/hands-on educational opportunities for our students to efficiently learn material in all subject matters.
National Core Curriculum
The Finnish National Board of Education creates the national core curriculum. "It includes the objectives and core contents of different subjects, as well as the principles of pupil assessment, special-needs education, pupil welfare and educational guidance." There is much independence with the national core curriculum that allows teachers to develop their own teaching methods through resources they request. This type of guideline is designed as a framework for educators to decide what they will teach and how, from the stipulations it provides. There are assessment guidelines that follow the national core curriculum for teachers to adequately assess their students, but it is also encouraged that each student take control of their own learning. Schools in Finland teach their students how to assess themselves and their learning. Taking action in one's learning is highly valued and supported through the Finland school system. Once the student reaches secondary schooling, they are able to select their own learning module that follows its own structure. These individual study plans allow each student to progress at their own pace with courses of their choice.
"The learning environment must support the pupil's growth and learning. It must be physically, psychologically, and socially safe, and must support pupil's health. The objective is to increase pupils' curiosity and motivation to learn, and to promote their activeness, self-direction, and creativity by offering interesting challenges and problems. The learning environment must guide pupils in setting their own objectives and evaluating their own actions. The pupils must be given the chance to participate in the creation and development of their own learning environment."
(Preamble, National Core Curriculum for Basic Education, 2004)
School Buildings
The school located closest to each student is the one they attend. Many school buildings were rebuilt after being destroyed in the Second World War. The design of each building is a functional, small setup that warrants about 300 students per school. Teachers are able to have strong, positive rapport with their students because the class sizes are small enough for each child to build connections with their teacher. This helps to increase the impact on their education. This also allows for more individual attention and a personalized learning experience. The teachers can truly get to know their students and determine different teaching practices to better educate each individual to their specific learning styles.
Kristiina Volmari, counselor of education and head of statistics and international affairs at the Finnish National Board of Education states, "Education isn't a competition. This is a quality of assurance mechanism, and it's quality assurance for ourselves."
Standardized Testing
Standardized testing is not something that is regularly completed by Finnish educators. The only standardized test that Finland takes part in is the PISA, which is known as the Programme for International Student Assessment. This test evaluates student performance in mathematics, science, and reading. "Results from the PISA test show that, not only do Finnish pupils score very high, but also that the number of weak performers is very low." This is a result of the educational reform establishing the Comprehensive School Act of 1968. This act is proactive in determining learning impairments and enforcing inclusion in regular education classrooms. Unified schooling was also a newly acquired system that later stimulated the creation of special education classrooms.
Interesting Facts:
Finland and New York City have the same number of teachers, but about half the amount of kids. Think about the education that can be taught with smaller class sizes.
A master's degree is required for all teachers in Finland.
School for kids that live in Finland begins when they are seven years old. This is because they give the children a chance to be kids. They can develop socially and mentally.
There are no gifted programs or separate classrooms for special education. Inclusion is enforced and therefore all students are in the same classroom learning together with supports as needed.
Roughly 2/3 of students attend college in Finland.
Science classes are smaller (16 students or less) in order to allow for hands-on experimentation to take place during the learning process.
Finland students receive 75 minutes of recess a day.
Basic education. (n.d.). http://www.oph.fi/english/curri
Emma, C. (2014, May 27). Finland's low-tech take on
education. http://www.politico.com/story/2014/
For Consistently High, R. (2011). 5 Finland: Slow and
Steady Reform.
Garbe, C., Lafontaine, D., Shiel, G., Sukunen, S., Valtin,
R., Baye, A., & Geron, S. (2016). Literacy in Finland. Country Report. Children and adolescents.
Higher Education in Finland. (n.d.) http://
Olson, L. (n.d.) Education in Finland - Koulutus
Suomessa. http://sites.miis.edu/finlandeducation/
OPINION: How Finland broke every rule - and created
a top school system. (2017, June 21). http://hechingerreport.org/how-finland-broke-every-rule-and-created-a-top-school-system/
Timeline: Finland. (2012, February 06). http://
Where is Finland? (2015, October 02). http://www.

Literacy starts at the beginning stages as the child is beginning to develop phonics and the learning of the alphabet in
pre-primary education. "Children are motivated to participate in emergent literacy activities implemented in meaningful and communicative contexts in order to understand the functions of spoken and written language." This establishes the start of literacy progression as they shift into the primary level. Before this point, they are able to experiment with the language and explore their speech as they learn to blend syllables into words.
Goals at Primary Literacy Level:
"Learning basic techniques of reading and writing including practicing letter-sound correspondences, breaking own speech into words, syllables and sounds; word recognition; and spelling at the sound and sentence levels.
Learning to observe oneself as a reader and writer
Gradually learning the conventions of reading writing.
Engaging in diversified daily reading and writing
Learning text-comprehension strategies to develop reading skills."
Develop reading texts fluently
Reading on-level material
Find information from multiple texts
Read a variety of texts
Summarize reading experiences
Regular tests are completed throughout
the primary grades in order to identify any
literacy issues a student may be having
early on to help support their needs.
Screening tests are administered as well
as diagnostic testing when needed;
to evaluate and monitor performance in
reading. "The new curriculum includes
assessment criteria in the form of
description of good performance at the
end of grade 6 and at the end of the
comprehensive school." This is used as a
tool to see that students are on track.
There are 14 universities and 26 universities of applied sciences. Applied sciences means that it follows "working life," which provides similar work experiences. Instruction for the higher level education after the completion of high school is free for degree students. There is a small membership fee for Bachelor's and Master's degree students that covers their health care and other social perks like transportation at a lower cost. They also get lower priced meals. There is a test similar to the SAT's that is required in order to be accepted into higher education. The applied sciences form of higher education is very similar to an internship. The school works closely with businesses, services, and other organizations to train students. Research is also completed to help lead instruction. The universities in Finland are independent in that each student has their own study plan that they follow to complete their degree. There is flexibility with courses in order to achieve the degree of your choice. "Each student has a personal study plan, which facilitates student guidance and the monitoring progress in studies."
By Kayla Kassees
Full transcript