Publish at February 20 2017 Updated September 08 2022

Learning in Finland: the qualities of the model

Pragmatic learning that is open to world issues

Prologue (preliminary concepts)

What if at the age of 18 you were offered the chance to travel around the world?

Yes, but I have no money you would say. Never mind, the coach would answer, create a company to finance the trip. I would love to, but I don't know anything about business and I have no idea! Well let's start with a creativity class, get organized as a team and design this ambition together.

This is, in a somewhat romanticized (but hardly) way, how young Finns get involved in the Tiimiakatemia, an entrepreneurship school in the heart of Finland. If they take up the challenge it's because the country's education system prepares them for it.

Finland is reportedly home to 5.3 million people and 3,000 lakes in northern Europe, but also has one of the most successful education systems. The idea to write this article starts from the Finnish approach to entrepreneurship and the desire to learn more about a Finnish educational system reputed to be one of the best (long time 1er and currently 12th in PISA tests) with a inspiration of Freinet pedagogy that contributes to democratic development, even if criticisms remain against it. Perhaps these criticisms of formatted teaching, somewhat outdated teachers or academicism are at the root of a current revival?

An open education based on the development of the person

Finnish education is said to be one of the least unequal in the world. Family income has little influence on the educational destiny of students, family policy, parental leave promote a presence with the child. What predominates is the encouragement and help for the development of personalities and not only the sorting towards a so-called school of excellence.

The "school form" is little present, and group work, formative experiences are privileged according to the observations of Philippe Meirieu. The rhythm and tastes of children are really taken into account as shown in the presentation of Finnish schools in the film "Tomorrow." Schools are organized as places to live and a personalization of teaching can be spotted. Students are also led to play roles and assume responsibilities in favor of the collective according to their age and maturity.

A unique education reform in the world

The 2015 theme-based rather than subject-based education reform provides a sense of education that is connected to reality, not abstract. Finland abandons subjects in favor of topics. tcross-curricular subjects such as the European Union would mix elements of economics, history of the countries involved, foreign languages and geography. But it's not just the subjects that will be shuffled, students will also be invited to choose the phenomena they want to study and will be guided by group discussions in learning about the causes and effects of these phenomena.

Success certainly lies in the shift from a school-based form to an educational setting in which professionalized, independent, and well-regarded teacher training has played a critical role.

Pragmatic professional development

Finally, why not take a cue from Finland's "ammatillisen koulutuksen" to evolve "vocational training" in Francophone countries?

In an aikuiskoulutuskeskus (adult education center), it will be possible to obtain a vocational diploma. The vocational training system is a competence-based qualification system. Diplomas are based on know-how acquired in a work situation. Holding a recognized vocational qualification gives access to higher education studies.

Applications for training are to be addressed directly to the employment agency or to an educational institution. Apprenticeship is also particularly developed. Specific training is offered to deal with the influx of migrants. Trainers must have a higher education or higher vocational education degree, have 3 years of experience in the sector they teach in, and have completed teacher training. Vocational training funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture is an integral part of the funding system for education and culture services.

Finland remains an inspirational source for OECD countries certainly that not only does it create a successful school system, it also develops democratic qualities and a rich and constructive social life.

Illustration: tpsdave- Pixabay

Other Resources:

Entrepreneurship Education

Description of the Finnish education system - Wikipedia

Sèvres International Review of Education - Marie-Hélène Margelidon The Finnish education system

The presentation of Finnish schools in the film "Tomorrow"

Finland abandons subjects in favor of subjects - Jean-Marie Pottier - Slate and

The end of the Finnish model? Edupronet

Vocational degrees in Finland

Philippe Meirieu Pedagogical Café: Lesson from Finland

Teacher Education in Finland - Ministry of Education and Culture

ICEM Education and training in Finland: particular context and influence of the Freinet movement Florence Saint-Luc - N'autre école

Education: taking inspiration from Finland - Médiapart

Vocational training goals in Finland -

Vocational training in Finlance - Finnish National Board of Education.

Finland: international experience recognized as a transversal competence? (Euroguidance) - European Union & training

Go further:

Paul Robert, Finland. An educational model for France? Les secrets de la réussite, ESF, coll. Pédagogies, 2008, 160 p.

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