For years, studies of different education systems have seen Finland come out as one of the shining lights on the world stage. How is it that Finland is performing so well?
Less is More
This article suggests that a starkly distinctive minimalist approach of less is more might be the reason for this success. The problem with the writer’s argument is that while he highlights certain distinctive features of education in Finland, it is debatable whether these are causal factors for their phenomenal success. (Personally, I feel number 5 is indeed a swing factor) Read the full article
News coming out of Finland suggests that they are now introducing new educational reforms: replacing the teaching of traditional subjects with what is called “phenomenon” teaching, using multi-disciplinary topics as an alternative. For example, students may register for a course in “cafeteria services”… Read the full article
This piece in The Washington Post provides a somewhat more sober view on this topic. It clarifies what the reforms actually look like, and shows that Finland is not ready to depart entirely from the more traditional teaching used across the world. The comments at the bottom of the page were very pertinent, so don’t miss them. Read the full article
What the research says
In trying to identify key aspects of exceptional education systems, it is vital that we rely on systematic research that has been painstakingly and diligently compiled over many years and that has accumulated ample data to substantiate the conclusions it advances. The McKinsey Report conducted extensive research over ten years and in more than 50 countries (including Finland) and they concluded that only three things mattered most. This article summarises these three conclusions very succinctly, but the serious reader might want to look at the full 50-page McKinsey report.