Discussions about Finnish education anywhere!! Now it has reached our government level. Is it possible to apply some good practices of Finnish education culture in our society? Is it possible to create changes in our age-old ‘education rights’ if only one government thinks about it?
Our traditional education methods have been based on the idea of memorizing textbooks and getting high jobs. Maybe the ‘degrees’ we have acquired will not help us to follow traffic rules on public roads, think for a moment before littering in public places and become socially conscious citizens!
He also shared his teaching experiences in a discussion with Tomi Cherian, who has been a teacher in Finnish schools for many years.
Finnish educational culture…. From a parent’s, teacher’s, and student’s point of view…
Finnish educational structure.
Basically, all educational institutions here follow certain rules in general, but the Finnish education system is fully implemented in all areas in the Finnish language schools here.
Compulsory basic education is from Class 1 to Lukio (equivalent to Plus Two in our country). Entry to first grade is at age seven. Preschool education with twenty hours a week begins at age six. Preschool education plays a major role in preparing children mentally for the first grade.
Primary school includes classes one to six and secondary school includes classes seven to nine. Lunch, textbooks, other school materials etc. are free.
Unlike in our country, the ninth class exams are conducted by the respective schools themselves. Upper secondary schools or Lukios are the next 3 years and after that graduation and post-graduation degrees come. It is possible from University or University of Applied Science. There is no regular fee payment system for career related courses.
If you come here with this question in the Indian mindset, you may have to struggle a bit to get the answer. Usually in our country, we see many schools in private sector. But opting for quality education in the public sector does not need to sweat a bit. There is free education of the same standard for any class without any inequality in the society.
What sets this country apart is its excellent public-sector education. Some schools may emphasize music and sports. Other schools may offer a variety of foreign language options. Choosing schools within two kilometers of home is quite simple.
Effortless admission to Finnish schools.
In addition to Finnish language schools, there are also English, German, French and Russian language schools, as well as ‘bilingual’ schools combining English and Finnish in cities such as Helsinki.
Access to English schools is fraught with difficulties, with very few children admitted. Only a small percentage of applicants get admission in first class. After the ninth class, there will be similar competitions again to get admission in English Lucios.
Our decision to enroll our children in Finnish language schools where there is less competition and pressure was quite simple. Children attending Finnish, ‘bilingual’ schools have more opportunities to choose higher education in this country.
Higher education through self-employment and earning money.
For many graduate courses, they can take up ‘part-time’ jobs on their own without depending on their parents to cover their own expenses. Also, the government also provides small financial assistance every month. Many Indian children studying in English schools often rely on neighboring countries for higher education at higher fees.
‘Piva kodi’ with a bit of fun and business
The ‘day cares’ here are known as ‘day houses’ (Paiva kodi). Childhood in the world of games until the age of six. With more time spent playing, these day homes nurture creativity in them. Paintings, handicrafts and nature conservation lessons are emphasized here.
At an early age, self-reliance is encouraged to do small things on one’s own. For example, they are able to dress, put their toys in their proper place and eat their own food by the age of three.
Mother tongue learning.
Along with learning other languages, the social system here encourages children to communicate through their mother tongue for proper growth and intellectual development. Mother tongue study is one hour and a half per week. The love of language of the people here is a recognition of the civilized culture that does not give much importance to the mother tongue. There is an opportunity to learn the mother tongue from pre-school to twelfth standard. In addition to Finnish and Swedish, there is an opportunity to learn English and two other foreign languages.
How much is the classmate’s mark?
The teachers share the grade and marks of each child only with them. Other children or their parents do not seek or want to know the marks and grades of their friends.
The educational culture here, where parents and teachers do not make unnecessary comparisons and do not destroy the confidence of children, makes our society think more.
A variety of topics.
Science, math, writing and reading are not the only core subjects here. Social science, sports, music, painting and other artistic subjects, and crafts like woodworking should be studied with equal importance. At the end of school, children proudly present their own handicrafts and sewn cloths. Children participate in different sports depending on the weather. For example, skiing in winter and cycling in summer are organized in schools.
Preference is given to those who apply for the Primary School Teaching Program if they have demonstrated proficiency in music, dance, painting, sports like football or other extra-curricular fields, not only in studies.
Let’s play more and then learn.
Children’s study time is less here. Classes are limited to a maximum of 30 hours per week. In small classes, the study time will be reduced again. For example, a child studying in class 5 usually has school hours from 9 am to 1 pm. There will be short breaks after each topic. There is a special time daily for sports and games.
By going out and playing independently during breaks, children can focus more on learning. The idea behind this is that you can learn better when there is no pressure.
‘Reading’ is important
Common libraries are found attached to schools. Finnish libraries are generally repositories of books. From the first class onwards, teachers take care to take books and read them and develop the habit of reading in them. Special awards are given at the end of school to those who read the most books.
Homework and exams.
At the end of the year, the teachers give a report to the parents by conducting tests to measure the quality of the children. There is no such thing as giving a load of homework on any of the holidays. There is almost no homework on the weekends, especially in small classes. Daily homework is mostly self-discovery through tests and research. There is generally no grading system in small classes. In high school, grading is done by class teachers.
Teachers called by name.
‘Sir and madam missumomi’ does not exist in the dictionary of these natives. Children call teachers by their names. This is not a trend found only in schools. These are all words that are not used anywhere in this country. It’s just that its reflection is also seen naturally in schools.
A class has a maximum of twenty-five children in ordinary primary schools. In classes one to six, the class teacher will be the same person. In this way, we get to understand each child better and know their strengths and weaknesses. There are also ‘support teachers’ for children who need special attention. For example, children whose mother tongue is not Finnish will have special language support.
Although the basic structure of the education system is the same, each classroom is designed differently by the teachers according to their imagination based on the abilities of the children.
Children are not taught just for exams. Marich gives priority to the age-appropriate mental development of children in small classes. These teachers have a high degree of independence and equal responsibility.
The quality and expertise of teachers is the foundation of any educational system. The system follows the training programs that validate it. Becoming a teacher is not an easy path here. Preference is given to those who apply for the Primary School Teaching Program if they have demonstrated proficiency in music, dance, painting, sports like football or other extra-curricular fields, not only in studies. The reason for this is the common perception that education is not only for learning mathematics and science, but also places for children to have fun, to develop their sense of art and to awaken their creativity.
Five to seven and a half years of training from universities are used to mold excellent teachers in front of the society.
Phenomenon Based Learning.
Along with subject-based education, ‘phenomenon-based learning’ or a method of learning focused on specific concepts needs to be introduced. This means that learning is focused on a concept rather than just focusing on specific topics. The aim is to prepare children to deal with the conditions and changes in the outside world. For example, when projecting on the concept of climate change, it goes into different areas of scientific study. The schools here have chosen the method of teaching subjects by asking questions.
Survival lessons and job training.
Learning to swim in the land of a thousand lakes is a way of survival! Schools also find time for that. Children are given basic training at the nearest swimming training centers.
Schools also discuss practical lessons on how to deal with emergencies, whether at home or outside. Vocational training is also encouraged in secondary schools.
A country that has banned compulsory school uniforms
This is a country where it is legally prohibited to wear uniforms in schools. So you don’t have to worry about running after uniforms before the school opens. No one will criticize the role.
There is no school bus system that runs errands full of children. Five km If you are admitted in a school outside the school, you will get a free taxi service or travel fare. But the government provides free travel facilities for differently-abled children.
Poverty is one of the biggest challenges facing the countries of the world. A childhood spent in poverty can be a stumbling block to education. Their main aim is to mold healthy children. The school nurse in each school holds discussions with the children and parents every year and pays attention to their mental and physical development. Quality food and mental and physical health contribute to a happy childhood. Such happy children can easily be lifted into the endless world of learning.
We need a change in our attitude.
Foreigners, especially Indians, are not infrequent here who, while raving about Finnish education, are not interested in taking full advantage of it in practice. Many Indian parents who are fully settled in the country prefer English schools, which generally rely on the IB syllabus, over Finnish schools, which also teach English from the first grade onwards.
Here, I have seen parents who often complain about their children ‘just playing’ without learning letters until the age of seven, and who have no interest in learning their mother tongue.
Contrary to our usual habits, there are foreigners who are not too interested in schools where there is no competition or competition. Parents in our country, who play a decisive role in deciding their children’s career prospects more than their own preferences, may not be able to quickly adapt to the educational concepts here.
A bright child who gets ‘A plus’ in all subjects and drowns in a small pond is an example of our country’s aversion to survival lessons. Our education should enable us to become socially responsible citizens, not just for prowess to get a job but to develop character and sportsmanship, to have the skills to survive emergency situations.
This article intends to confirm that ‘ours is not all bad and everyone else’s is good. Our little Kerala is a state with six times the population of Finland. We may be able to implement some of the good habits of their educational culture.
It is possible to bring some good lessons in our society that are applicable in other countries and suitable for our society only through a change in the perspective of the parents, teachers, and students as well as the entire society!