Much has been written about Finland’s exemplary education system (See:https://literacyteaching.net/2014/10/14/an-infographic-of-finlands-education-system/) They are often at the top of PISA rankings in both literacy and numeracy skills. Further, they boast small teacher to student ratios which allow for more individualized instruction. The teaching profession is also highly regarded; teachers are highly esteemed professionals like their peers doctors and lawyers. Now, Finland is reforming the way their classrooms run and everyone is talking about it. Teaching by topic (or phenomenon teaching) will replace teaching by subject throughout the country’s classrooms. This approach intends to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of the “real world” and encourage collaboration among students. The Independent, a UK based blog, provides some examples of how this would be done.
“a teenager studying a vocational course might take “cafeteria services” lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages (to help serve foreign customers), writing skills and communication skills.”
“…pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union – which would merge elements of economics, history (of the countries involved), languages and geography.”
I like this approach because it allows students to experience subjects in a contextualized way. Phenomenon teaching makes school relevant again. I suspect much of the world, myself included, will be closely observing how this unique approach to teaching fares in Finland.
To read more from the Independent:
Much has been said about the education system in Finland. For the past decade or so Finland’s PISA scores have been at the top in both literacy and mathematics. Many studies have been conducted on their exemplary system. Some of the characteristics which set the education system apart:
- Student- Teacher Ratio is better than in North America
- Standardized testing and homework is kept to a minimum
- Teaching is a highly respected profession
Below is a beautiful infographic outlining Finland’s stance on teaching and learning (Lepi, 2014). Lepi concludes the infographic with, what she believes, is most critical to Finland’s success: “Finland knows good teachers are essential.”